It’s not easy, but Tottenham fans have to take the positives from their 2-1 north London derby defeat to Arsenal.
Expectations are back on the floor, Jose Mourinho is back to being public enemy number one and the squad got a much-needed rest in such a chaotic season, considering they didn’t turn up for the majority of the game.
It was a miserable day at the office for Spurs fans, which started disappointingly and went from bad to worse when Son Heung-min was forced off with injury after 19 minutes, just as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was parking his car at the front of the Emirates.
On came Erik Lamela, the man bought to replace Gareth Bale, who has since been replaced by Bale.
Lamela is a bit of a strange one, isn’t he? Was absolutely unworldly in FIFA Ultimate Team and was everyone’s favourite Premier League player when he arrived at Spurs in 2013 as a result. He’s never quite managed to find full stride during his time in London, but remains a devilishly handsome, entirely unpredictable wildcard who can either steal the show like Shawn Michaels, or flop massively.
Gennaro Gattuso’s iconic ‘sometimes maybe good…’ outburst probably best describes the Argentine.
After Emile Smith Rowe had rattled the bar for the Gunners already, it looked like Tottenham were in for a long one. That was until they found themselves with a chance from a cross after 33 minutes.
Sergio Reguilon crossed the ball into Lucas Moura who, in fairness, was swarmed by red shirts as soon as he touched the ball down and could only lay the ball aside in hope that there was a runner behind him.
Lamela was that runner, but seemed to have gone beyond the ball which hadn’t bounced into his feet and allowed him to charge on behind the Arsenal’s squeezed defence. A frustrating one and likely a good chance gone to waste, except it wasn’t – it was the perfect chance.
Instead of desperately trying to claw the ball under his feet and forward like most people, Lamela had an epiphany on instinct. Having watched Bale roll back the years in recent weeks and bring football back to prime ‘the Barclays’ levels, Lamela wanted in on the action.
Halting his run and shifting his balance, Lamela wrapped his left leg around his right and poked the ball along the floor, trickling it between the legs of Thomas Partey and beyond David Luiz, who could only stand with his hands on his manhood and watch as the ball whipped into the bottom right corner.
Out of absolutely nothing, Tottenham had the lead. And while we all love a scrappy, perhaps even illegal goal to ramp up the heat in a derby, Lamela’s audacious and instinctive rabona was box office scenes; it even prompted an unlikely, momentary gasp of excitement from Martin Tyler, which is seemingly impossible these days.
Would Ray Hudson have done a better job? Undeniably. Does someone still need to dub some Alan Partridge commentary over the goal? Of course they do. But in a time of no live crowds, it’s about the small wins, and seeing a goal as cheeky as that is always enough to put a wry smile on your face. Unless you’re an Arsenal fan.
Ice in his veins and wet-look gel in his hair, Lamela is at his best on instinct and his ability to pull out a rabona like that is yet more proof of it. Best part is, it’s not a fluke either. He’s actually done it before.
The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding, in this case, is Lamela’s love for a rabona goal.
Unfortunately, it only took Arsenal 11 minutes to find an equaliser before they went on to win the game in the second half. To add insult to injury, Lamela was sent off for picking up a second yellow card.
It’s all about perspective, though, Spurs fans. Yeah the game was lost and sure it’s frustrating after weeks of improved performances, but for Lamela, a rabona goal and a red card to follow is the ultimate football brace. Efficiency and sh*thousery at it’s finest.
Ignore the haters, Erik. The streets won’t forget a goal like that.