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Arsenal: Lessons from the North London Derby

1. Granit Xhaka is not good enough

This should have been a lesson from every other game over the past few seasons, but somehow, we’re still here, doing this stupid dance. Xhaka – for all of his lovely cultured left footed pings – is too slow, both physically and mentally, for the Premier League. Never was it better demonstrated than by his idiotic sliding tackle on Son that gave Spurs a penalty. The Swiss was incredibly lucky to stay on the pitch.

2. Torreira isn’t sharp yet, but Guendouzi rules the roost

Guendouzi has been impressive in every match this season, but here he was sensational. His tender age belies the maturity of his game, and his dynamic performance was in sharp contrast to Xhaka.

Torreira, meanwhile, is still to find form. He hasn’t quite been his best self since last December, and if it goes on too much longer some may justifiably start to worry.

3. Play Ceballos

Dani Ceballos oozed class when he came on, and he’s a fiery character too. Between him, Guendouzi and Torreira, Arsenal certainly lack no passion or urgency in the middle. Ceballos might have looked out of place against Liverpool, but that is entirely understandable. So have some of the world’s best midfielders. What is becoming clear is that on the ball, he’s probably Arsenal’s best midfielder, and he needs to start.

4. Lacazette, Lacazette, Lacazette

Usually central midfielders are labelled a team’s “engine room”, but given the work that Alexandre Lacazette gets through, his tackling back, his defensive bursts, his selfless link-up play, it wouldn’t be out of place to ascribe the label to the striker. On Sunday he combined this work rate with a sumptuous goal, and Arsenal will hope that the injury that ended his game isn’t a bad one. The guy needs to play.

5. Pepe is loading

For the opposition, Nicolas Pepe is like watching through binoculars as an army slowly sails towards your port town, brandishing their weapons. They can’t hurt you right now, but in a few days you know that they are going to f*** you up.

The Ivorian forward is a real menace with his pace and trickery, but so far he’s not calibrated his shot, which he’s dragging wide with regularity. Once that clicks into place – and it threatens to be soon – Arsenal will have a huge new goal threat.

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