José Mourinho accused some of his players of “hiding” during Tottenham’s north London derby defeat to Arsenal, pointing to a lack of intensity that led both Gareth Bale and Tanguy Nbombele to be substituted early in the second half.
Spurs were deservedly beaten at the Emirates despite a late rally with 10 men after Érik Lamela, who had opened the scoring, was sent off. An Arsenal side missing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was dropped to the bench for disciplinary reasons understood to involve matchday timekeeping, dominated for long periods and won through an Alexandre Lacazette spot-kick that Mourinho called “an offence to penalties”.
The main target of Mourinho’s frustration was a sluggish first-half performance in which he admitted Tottenham were fortunate to go in level despite scoring through an ingenious Lamela strike. “We were poor,” he said of the opening 45 minutes. “Defending bad, no intensity, no pressing. In terms of attacking football, some important players hiding. Really bad.”
Mourinho maintained he was “not pointing the finger at player A, B or C” but criticised “people hiding, not showing themselves, no intensity, no passing and moving”. Bale and Ndombele were replaced in the 57th and 62nd minutes respectively, Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli coming on.
Asked specifically about Bale, he said: “Gareth and Tanguy, we need more intensity in our game. We need to press more, be more intense in the game.” Lacazette scored from the spot shortly after those changes were made. Michael Oliver and the VAR official Paul Tierney both adjudged Davinson Sánchez’s foul on the Arsenal forward, committed a split-second after Lacazette had miscued a shot, merited a penalty but Mourinho regarded those decisions with scorn.
“I don’t want to call it a penalty because it’s an offence to penalties,” he said. “If somebody has a different opinion it has to be one of the big Arsenal fans with a season ticket; it is the only one I accept as it is the passion speaking. Other than that I don’t accept a different view as it is obvious.”
A far happier Mikel Arteta could relish Arsenal’s first derby win since December 2018, along with a display that justified his decision to stick to his principles and omit Aubameyang, who had been in a rich vein of form. “I made what I thought was the right decision and we draw a line there,” he said. “We know how important Auba is for the club and that’s it. It’s been dealt with, now let’s move on.”
Arsenal are 10 points off the Champions League spots but have won three and drawn one of their last five games against the current top seven, with West Ham and Liverpool their next two league opponents. “Until mathematically it’s impossible we’re going to believe and give it a go for sure,” he said.
Source: The Guardian