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A few thoughts on the Tottenham match.

February 8, 2015

Before Saturday’s match I worked out that since I was born back in August 1957 Arsenal had played Tottenham 124 times. I obviously did not see everyone one of those as for the first few years I wouldn’t have known much about the fixture. I also never attended them all of them live, but for many years I did go to almost every match home and away. Since I first started going to Arsenal taken by my Dad with my elder brothers, Arsenal have beat Spurs and Spurs have beat Arsenal many times. So over those years you sort of get used to (maybe even numb) to a defeat by your neighbours as it’s going to happen you can be sure of that. You can also be sure we’ll beat that lot again.

Maybe because I’m older and wiser to the fixture a defeat by our neighbours is not going to send me driving down to Beachy Head to throw myself off the cliff. It doesn’t make me a better fan to show my disgust at Arsenal losing to that lot. I don’t feel the need for it to ruin my weekend either. Arsenal lost. Tottenham were the better team on the day, shit happens.

So yes, while I’m fed up Arsenal lost, I was more fed up due to how Arsenal played than being beat by Tottenham. Arsenal brought back Welbeck and Rosicky who seems likes playing against Spurs was on the bench.  Right from the off, Arsenal looked set up to defend, happy for Tottenham to have the ball. After a few half chances for Tottenham, a good save from Ospina from Kane Arsenal broke and a good move saw Welbeck show his heels to Rose, cross to Giroud, whose shot was going wide but fell nicely for Ozil to finish superbly to put Arsenal 1-0 up.

That was it after the goal as far as shots were concerned from Arsenal. Tottenham totally dominated the first half yet Arsenal defended quite well keeping Spurs out. Arsenal scored early At the Lane last season and held out to win, but could Arsenal do it two seasons running?  I have to say I did not have a clue what the officials were doing and how certain Tottenham players were allowed to foul on numerous occasions and yet not received a yellow card, but Nacho, Welbeck and Giroud all did for there first fouls and very soft fouls. In fact what I saw, two of the cards were for not even touching the Tottenham players.

I though Arsenal were fortunate to be going in at half-time winning 1-0 but happy that we were. Surely Arsenal would improve in the second half? I was thinking along the lines of Tottenham were going hell for leather in the first half, they wanted the ball more, first to every tackle, every header, but surely they would tire and Arsenal would start playing by making a few chances of their own in the second half.

Out came the teams for the second half and once again right from the off Tottenham were all over Arsenal like a rash and fully deserved (ouch) their equaliser and I can admit it was coming. Arsenal simply could not get into a game where Tottenham were simply overwhelming Arsenal in all areas of the pitch. They had belief they could win. A belief I thought that was coming from Arsenal simply didn’t want to play.

Finally after eighty-five minutes Tottenham’s pressure told when Kane out jumped Koscielny to head the winner for Tottenham. You could not say it was not deserved.

Throughout the match Arsenal kept losing the ball cheaply. Tottenham kept coming forward, Arsenal’s defence repelled Tottenham attacks, cleared the ball to Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil to Giroud only for those players to simply gave up possession cheaply and back came Tottenham again and again. The easiest thing in the world when you give up goals is blame the defence.

This is a defence that had somehow through good defending, last ditch tackling/blocking or simply bad choices from the Tottenham players kept Tottenham down to one goal and long shots for most of the game. However, when your midfield and forwards cannot keep the ball and in turn this keeps the pressure full on for your defence as Tottenham pressed forward in wave after wave the defensive concentration levels must dip after about seventy minutes. Recently Arsenal have defended more as a team, yesterday we defended with six players, while four spent most of the match passing to players in white shirts. All round it was a poor team performance after a decent run of matches.  There’s not really much you can say about Arsenal in attacking sense for the ninety-five odd minutes the match went on.

After 1000 matches Arsene lost away to Chelsea 6-0 and after 700 Premiership matches Arsene lost away to Tottenham 2-1. Can we stop highlighting these milestones and stop playing at 12.45pm on BTSports as the players obviously need a few extra hours in bed. Please!

Ospina – made a few good saves though with added “for the cameras” to them, yet I could not see how he was at fault for the two goals. 6

Bellerin – never really got any help/protection on the right from Welbeck for the first thirty minutes and was left open to attacks down that side from Rose. Didn’t have the best of games. 5

Monreal – again did all asked of him. Never deserved to get booked from an awful decision by the referee which put him under pressure from another yellow for the rest of the game. Arsenal’s best player. 8

Mertesacker 5 and Koscielny 5 – both kept Spurs at bay for long periods, but overwhelming attacking from Spurs took its toll. Two headers won, the first by Dembele whose header was saved by Ospina only for Kane to pick up the loose ball and fire home. The second one Kane out jumping Koscielny to head home where maybe both players should have done better.

Coquelin – played well in the first half and just behind Monreal as Arsenal’s best player, but pressure told in the second half and though his performance dropped to blame him would be unfair as the whole team’s performance as a team was poor. It was not a day for picking out individuals for criticism, more the team as a whole 6

Ramsey – was out of sorts and could never get into the game. Tries to many flicks and tricks and though when they come off they look good, I wish he would do the simple things and save those trick and flicks for when we’re 3-0 up. 5

Ozil – Scored a very well taken goal to put Arsenal ahead, should have done better a few minutes later yet held onto the ball too long when the pass to Cazorla was on. Not the best game for the Ozil. 5

Cazorla – picked up the FA fans Player of the month award for the second month running and played as if he was carrying both around with him. Simply could not get into the game. Too many wayward passes to team mates, even one where he passed it 45 yards across the pitch straight out for a throw-in to Tottenham. 5

Welbeck – I could see his inclusion. The lad works hard  and maybe a better choice for the game to start than Theo. Was superb for setting up Arsenal’s goal. Kept the ball well at times yet often found himself in possession with no one to give the ball too, as if his team mates did not want the ball. Felt a bit sorry for him to be honest. Did not help himself getting in a situation with Rose, which I think affected his play and gave Rose the upper hand. Rose was very good in the second half. 5

Giroud – One of those Giroud days. Yet when the team doesn’t even try to attack, what’s he meant to do? I saw him come all the way to defend on a few occasions to try to get into the match, yet overall he was a peripheral player in the match. 5

Rosicky – treid to get the team going pushing forward when he came on. Had a good shot near the end but was right down Lloris’s throat.

Walcott – was also not going to change the game much, by the time Theo and Rosicky were brought into the match Tottenham were in such complete control the pattern of the match was set. Theo was almost through once yet typically instead of taking the pass in his stride, it hit his heel and chance went.

Akpom – was brought on far to late to make a difference. I doubt bringing on Sanchez would have made a difference that late.

After another setback Arsenal now have to re-group again. One change from the Aston Villa match and playing well, I though Arsenal would do better, much better than they did yesterday. I’m not going to lay all the blame at the manager’s doorstep as it was a North London Derby and for me it was the players who let the supporters down in this match. Many of them knew what was involved, the intensity of such matches. They simply did not turn up. In turn I don’t want to hear any more excuse on Arsenal.com from the players, simply put it right on Tuesday with your feet, not on Sunday/Monday with your words. I keep saying it, walk the walk, not talk the talk.

Having said that Leicester at Home on Tuesday and then Middlesbro in the FACup at home on Sunday should help the team start another run and if we are going to get top three/four then we cannot afford many more slip ups. With City playing as they are, second is even a possibility if we push on. Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal, Southampton all in the mix and many still have to play each other, so lots to play for.

I reckon by 10pm on Tuesday evening we’ll be back above Spurs. Crystal Palace away the following week will not be easy if Arsenal approach the match in the same way as against Tottenham. Crystal Palace will smell blood and they too can keep going and putting pressure for ninety minutes. Arsenal will need to be at their best and attacking and defending as a team to get anything at Selhurst Park.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

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