Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pape Sarr was brutally ripped into by Jamie O’Hara following Spurs’ 2-0 north London derby defeat.
Antonio Conte’s side found themselves outplayed for virtually the whole of the first half, with an own goal from Hugo Lloris and a superb strike from Martin Odegaard putting Arsenal 2-0 up at half-time.
For all Spurs’ efforts in the second half, they were unable to find a way past Aaron Ramsdale in the Gunners net and have now won just two of their previous six Premier League games, falling five points behind Manchester United and Newcastle in the top four race in the process.
Conte opted to deploy a wildcard option in midfield as he left out Oliver Skipp and Yves Bissouma to give 20-year-old Sarr his full league debut – a decision that ultimately backfired with Spurs overrun in midfield, leaving O’Hara furious as he ranted on TalkSport.
He said: “Sarr?! Sarr’s playing in midfield!
“I mean, jeez, we signed Bissouma for £30m… I know [Rodrigo] Bentancur isn’t fit, and Sarr is the best that Spurs have got to offer in a north London derby? I mean, come on.
“What chance have you got? You can’t get near anyone, you’re playing against a midfield who are probably the best midfield in the country right now in Arsenal. Odegaard, he looked like Zidane in there. It’s ridiculous.”
TIF Thoughts on O’Hara’s comments…
Sarr’s performance was far from scapegoat-worthy, with him and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg unable to deal with Arsenal’s midfield that featured an extra body in there.
The 3-4-3 setup, or slight variation of it, is the main formation that Conte has used throughout the season, but it didn’t hold much use against Mikel Arteta’s midfield three, who had an easy time finding space and playing it around the Spurs pair, with Odegaard’s goal being the prime example of Spurs affording their rivals plenty of time in the engine room.
There are question marks over whether the Italian was too naïve in selecting the Senegalese, but with Bissouma and Skipp averaging the fifth and second-lowest match ratings respectively for the Lilywhites this term (via WhoScored), it’s not difficult to see why he took the gamble.