Tottenham Hotspur fell to an extremely disappointing 2-0 defeat in the north London derby on Sunday evening, a result that leaves Antonio Conte‘s side five points adrift of fourth place – having played a game more – while it also sees Arsenal move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
As is now something of an unwanted trademark for the Lilywhites, Spurs started the game slowly, with a calamitous Hugo Lloris own goal gifting the Gunners the lead on the 14-minute mark, before a long-range strike from Martin Odegaard nine minutes before the break doubled the visitors’ advantage.
After the interval, Tottenham briefly looked as if they could haul themselves back into the fixture, with Aaron Ramsdale producing three fine saves to keep out Harry Kane and Ryan Sessegnon, although, as the game wore on, Arsenal once again took control, seeing out the 2-0 win with relative ease.
However, while the result will most certainly be a bitter pill for Conte to swallow, the performance of Pape Matar Sarr on his first Premier League start will have undoubtedly been a bright spark for the 53-year-old – as the midfielder well and truly repaid the Italian manager’s “big show of faith” on Sunday.
Indeed, over his 76 minutes on the pitch, the 20-year-old impressed in possession of the ball, enjoying 61 touches – the fifth-most of any Spurs player to feature in the match – completing 41 of his 46 attempted passes – at a success rate of 89% – and finding his man with one key pass – with Matt Kim claiming that Sarr’s forward passes and progression were “amazing” on the day.
The £14.5m signing also caught the eye in more workmanlike metrics, making three tackles, three interceptions and one clearance, as well as being successful in six duels and breaking up Arsenal’s play by committing two fouls.
While the Senegal international’s Sofascore statistical rating of 6.5 saw him fall some way short of the 8.0 received by Kane – the highest received by any Tottenham player – Sarr was awarded a much more favourable six in Alasdair Gold’s own player ratings for football.london.
The journalist wrote: “Making his full Premier League debut in a north London derby and he showed he doesn’t look out of place. It was a tough assignment with Hojbjerg against Arsenal’s midfield three but he worked hard and earned a standing ovation from a number of the fans when he went off.”
While such a lacklustre defeat against their most bitter of rivals is a result that no Spurs supporter will be enjoying today, there should be some confidence taken from the impressive showing by Sarr, as the youngster was very much Tottenham’s brightest spark on an otherwise bleak day.