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What Ben Davies did for Tottenham that Rob Holding failed to do for Arsenal

By Emma de Duve

The North London Derby didn't disappoint, from Tottenham's perspective, as Harry Kane's brace and Son Heung-min's goal helped Spurs win 3-0. Arsenal's evening went from bad to worse and after a decent start, as they gave a penalty away before going down to 10 men.

Antonio Conte's side had been ready to play the fixture when it was originally scheduled in January, but a request from the Gunners camp saw the match postponed. Spurs suffered a late blow to Cristian Romero and it was Davinson Sanchez who was given the nod to step in, but that didn't stop the Lilywhites from securing all three points against their north London rivals.

The Lilywhites now sit just a point behind Mikel Arteta's side, going into the final couple of games of the season. On paper, Tottenham arguably have the more favourable fixtures, but they need Arsenal to drop points to get themselves back inside the top four.

READ MORE: Gary Neville praises Antonio Conte's Jose Mourinho like 'masterclass' as Tottenham beat Arsenal

The derby was always going to involve passion and anger and with that comes fouls and booking. During the game, there were 23 fouls in total and six yellow cards given by referee Paul Tierney.

Ben Davies played in his usual role, on the left of Tottenham's middle three on Thursday night, meaning he had the likes of Cedric Soares, Mohamed Elneny and Bukayo Saka on his side of the pitch. The defender produced two clearances, two interceptions, four long balls and a key pass.

The Welsh international is one of the many players who has improved under Conte and has become a key member of the back line, helping at both ends of the field. Davies picked up the first booking of the game, at the same time as his boss was shown a yellow card, after the defender brought Saka down in the 17th minute.

After this point and up until the 82nd minute, when he was replaced by Joe Rodon, Davies showed composure and experience. The Welsh international didn't stop his strong defending, making numerous blocks and also helped his side at the other end of the field.

However, the 29-year-old kept his cool so that he could remain on the pitch, until he was taken off. After the game, Conte admitted that he had a word with his defender, about his composure.

"We spoke with Ben after the first half to pay attention. I am delighted with the way they managed and the attitude they showed," the Italian said. However, this composure wasn't something Holding was able to control for Arsenal.

Almost as soon as the game began, the defender was up against Son and was winding him up within the first ten minutes. It wasn't long after Spurs had gone 1-0 up that the 26-year-old pulled the South Korean back and received his first yellow card of the evening.

As Tierney booked Holding, he put up three fingers, indicating the fouls the defender had already committed. At that point, a player that has been in the Premier League for a number of years and in a game where there is always going to be tension, he should've known that you have to keep your cool.

Whether the 26-year-old thought that or not, he had clearly lost his head and not long after, he was shown his second yellow card of the evening, spending just over half an hour on the pitch. Holding had blocked Son after a ball over the top and the referee had no choice but to send the Arsenal man off.

After the clash, Glenn Hoddle and Ian Wright both agreed on the "lack of discipline" and "professionalism" from the Arsenal defender.

"Lack of discipline in the end. As a defender sometimes you've just got to hold your ground," Hoddle explained.

"He's been booked, then you go and do what he did. The ball wasn't even getting to Son, the ball was overhit from [Eric] Dier and that's a lack of professionalism.

"When you're on a yellow and you're a defender and you want to get tight, you can't do that anymore. This is ridiculous. It's a lack of discipline and doing the right thing at the right time and the referee saw it," he added.

Wright agreed with the former Spurs man and couldn't defend Holding's actions. "He looked like he was afraid of Son and why wouldn't you be? He's an amazing player," Wright admitted.

"The sending off, he couldn't complain about the sending off." Arteta was of course asked about the red card in his post-match press conference, but the Arsenal boss didn't say much on the matter.

"I want to be on the touchline on Monday night. No, because I will be suspended," the 40-year-old said.

"You can ask the referee if he wants to give an assessment of the match. I have two options. I can lie to you which I don't do or I can be suspended, and I really want to be on the touchline against Newcastle."

There will always be someone complaining about refereeing decisions in games and everyone knows that there have been numerous issues with decisions and VAR. However, no matter what is said about the choices made by the referee on the night, Holding should've known better and acted smarter.

Arsenal going down to ten men only helped Tottenham secure the three points. Both sides will now want to finish strong, in their final two games of the season, as the battle to play in the Champions League next season is still alive.

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Dive Deeper:
Arsenal line ups vs Tottenham, Ben White decision, Rob Holding dropped, formation change
football.london's Gunners writers take a look at who they would start in the North London Derby
Tottenham vs Arsenal player ratings as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min boost top four hopes
Tottenham 3-0 Arsenal: Rob Holding’s red card left the Gunners with little hope as Spurs closed to within a point…
Former Premier League referee delivers honest verdict on officiating during Tottenham vs Arsenal
Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has claimed that he wouldn't have given Tottenham Hotspur a penalty during yesterday's 3-0…
Conte tells Arteta to stop complaining after Holding red in Arsenal defeat
Antonio Conte urged Mikel Arteta to stop complaining after the Arsenal manager blamed the referee, Paul Tierney, for jeopardising his…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Antonio Conte hits out at Mikel Arteta and makes Liverpool claim after Tottenham win vs Arsenal
Tottenham have moved to within one point of Arsenal following their 3-0 win over the Gunners in the North London…
Arteta drops scary White selection hint as Xhaka shouts at ref: Arsenal moments missed vs Spurs
football.london takes a look back at the moments missed from the Gunners' defeat to Tottenham in the North London Derby
Get all your news in one place