Football: Calm needed on the Spur of the moment

Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko clashing with Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner following Eric Dier's overexuberant celebrations after scoring Spurs' first goal. Harry Kane netted the other in the 4-2 loss, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (two), Alexandre La
Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko clashing with Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner following Eric Dier's overexuberant celebrations after scoring Spurs' first goal. Harry Kane netted the other in the 4-2 loss, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (two), Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira were on the scoresheet for the Gunners.PHOTO: REUTERS

Pochettino explains he wanted his men to keep cool when he joined shoving incident

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino insisted he was trying to keep the peace after the Tottenham manager raced to join an altercation that could have descended into a brawl during his side's explosive 4-2 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday.

A fiery north London Premier League derby boiled over in the first half at the Emirates Stadium after Spurs' Eric Dier celebrated his equaliser with a shushing gesture in front of the home fans.

He also reportedly told Arsenal substitute Aaron Ramsey, who had been warming up on the touchline, to "sit back down".

The midfielder and fellow Gunners substitute Stephan Lichtsteiner took exception to Dier's antics, prompting a bout of pushing and shoving involving numerous players at the side of the pitch.

Pochettino sprinted down the touchline as the bust-up continued, but the Argentinian was at pains to point out he was trying only to keep his players from losing their focus.

"In that moment, I was trying to put calm in our players. There was a fight but I didn't know what was going on," he said.

"Sometimes, there are these situations. I don't know if it was the celebration of Dier that upset some people. The team had scored and the energy was on our side, so I wanted us to be clever."

KEEPING THE LID ON

In that moment, I was trying to put calm in our players. There was a fight but I didn't know what was going on... I don't know if it was the celebration of (Eric) Dier that upset some people. The team had scored and the energy was on our side.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, on what happened when he raced down the touchline to join an altercation between the Spurs and Arsenal players.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery, a good friend of Pochettino, agreed with his counterpart that it would have been better had both teams kept their composure.

"In that moment, the players have very big emotions," the Spaniard said. "They were fighting a lot, but we need also to be calm."

Emery, however, praised his side for the fightback, which not only extended their unbeaten run to 19 games in all competitions but was also Arsenal's first win over a top-six side under his tenure.

And the fact that it came against their bitter London rivals made it all the more "special", which he acknowledged.

"It is a very big victory we showed our supporters and we gave them the victory because it is a very special match against Tottenham. For us, it is special also. We need to continue our process, creating our way. I want to do more," he added.

If seeing their six-game winning streak end after their second-half capitulation was not enough, Spurs also face a Football Association investigation after one of their supporters was arrested for throwing a banana skin at Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

 
 

The striker had scored the first of his two goals from the penalty spot when he ran to celebrate in front of the travelling supporters.

A host of projectiles were thrown at him, with still photography showing that a banana skin was among them.

Closed-circuit television footage was used to confirm the identify of the fan who threw it and he was arrested.

London police said afterwards that a total of seven arrests were made. Six were for public order offences, of which at least two were Arsenal fans, who lit smoke canisters during the match.

The FA will investigate and Spurs released a statement that condemned the fan's actions.

"Behaviour such as this is completely unacceptable and the supporter in question will be issued with a ban," a spokesman said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'Calm needed on the Spur of the moment'. Print Edition | Subscribe