Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes, Barcelona’s Supercopa win
It’s back! The first Marcotti Musings of 2023 is here, and the European soccer weekend offered up plenty to talk about, from Arsenal, Barcelona and Man United getting memorable, morale-boosting wins over their rivals Tottenham, Real Madrid and Man City respectively to more pain at Liverpool.
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Also, Newcastle are for real, Chelsea picked up precious points (while also signing Mykhailo Mudryk, an Arsenal target) and Atletico Madrid’s top four hopes in LaLiga are fading fast.
It’s Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the biggest moments in the world of football.
Arsenal take another big step towards the title, while Spurs have plenty to reflect on
Arsenal have been top of the Premier League table since day one, yet many of us expected them to falter at some point. Not least because, well, their pace doesn’t look sustainable: At this rate, they’ll collect 99 points, which would be the second-highest total in league history. And so you find yourself looking at the fixture list and trying to pick out games where they could drop points.
Tottenham away on Sunday was one of those games. It’s the North London derby, Spurs had beaten them the previous season, Arsenal had been held at home by Newcastle in their last league outing, Eddie Nketiah was still starting up front … except it didn’t happen. On the contrary, Arsenal turned in a masterful, comprehensive performance at both ends of the pitch, winning 2-0.
It’s true that the first goal was thanks to a howler by Hugo Lloris and the second was a long-range, low-xG shot by Martin Odegaard (and one that Lloris might have done better with, too). But the attacking display in the first half left Spurs fighting shadows and frankly, they could have scored more.
Mikel Arteta’s set-up — whether you call it a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 — becomes a tricky, asymmetrical unit when Oleksandr Zinchenko steps into midfield, combining with Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli…