MAURICIO POCHETTINO’S decision to leave out Tottenham’s best defender came back to bite him.
I just could not understand why Toby Alderweireld did not play in what was Spurs’ biggest game of the season so far.
Getty – Contributor10 Mauricio Pochettino got the big calls wrong against Arsenal, says SunSport columnist Alan Shearer
Getty – Contributor10 Toby Alderwiereld was left out at Arsenal after playing in Champions League win over Inter
It was bizarre and a huge surprise.
Whether he was trying to make a statement because Alderweireld’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has not signed a new one, I do not know.
But it was a huge call to drop him and it massively backfired as the two players he decided to play at centre-half, Jan Vertonghen and Juan Foyth, were very poor.
This was the first time they have started a game together – and it showed.
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Reuters10 Juan Foyth had an afternoon to forget at the Emirates
Getty Images – Getty10 If Pochettino got the big calls wrong, Unai Emery got them spot on
I really don’t have a clue what Vertonghen was thinking with the handball which led to Arsenal’s penalty, and Foyth also made an error which led to a goal.
After demolishing Chelsea last weekend, Spurs are now out of the top four and must go back to the drawing board.
But where Pochettino got the big calls wrong, his opposite number Unai Emery got them all right and deserves huge credit.
What I really like about the new Arsenal boss is that he is not afraid to make those tough decisions.
We do not know how bad Mesut Ozil’s back was, but he was nowhere near the Emirates yesterday.
And that comes a week after he was left on the bench because the manager felt he could not trust him going away to Bournemouth.
Then when Arsenal were trailing 2-1 at half-time in the North London derby, Emery made two substitutions which changed the game.
He basically said to Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 'You’re off, you’re not doing what I am asking you to do'.
Getty – Contributor10 Aaron Ramsey made a massive difference when he came on in the second half
AP:Associated Press10 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged a double against Spurs
And brought on Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey, who gave Tottenham so many problems with their running forward and in behind.
Arsenal bossed that second half. They overran Spurs, who were weak and offered nothing.
The Gunners have not led in the first half of any Premier League match this season but their record after the break is astonishing.
It shows Emery has obviously got his side fit and believing in what they are doing.
He is getting every single ounce of sweat, ability and effort out of his players.
And if they are not doing what Emery wants from them, they are out – as with Ozil, and with Mkhitaryan at half-time.