Sorry for the slightly crass headline. It feels right though. Robbie Keane spouted off about how they didn’t fear us, how man for man they are equal to us and how their bench is stronger.
What a joker…
I met my brother outside Kings Cross McDonald’s after he’d drank 13 bottles of beer, I had a lot of catching up to do but there is no doubt his dutch courage rubbed off on me. By the time we’d arrived at the stadium, I was feeling pretty confident.
The game kicked off to a wave of sound, Arsenal fans were pumped which was unusual because we’re not normally loud and even more unusual because early kick offs are notoriously quiet.
The wall of sound didn’t seem to rub off on the Arsenal players. Arsenal in the first half were pretty woeful. Our passing was shambolic, the decision making was appalling and we struggled to hold our shape and play the football we’ve come to expect as standard.
Diaby was awful, truly terrible… I don’t think I have a good word to say about him from the first half. He was holding onto the ball too long, making unbelievably bad passes and his strength on the ball was like watching a 4 year old shoulder barge a WWF wrestler. When Nasri returns to the team, Diaby can have no complaints. His stint in the first team, has in the main, been a failure.
Song was very shaky. Again, his passing was off key and he was making sloppy errors on and off the ball. I think Geoff is right, he does have a Senderos moment in him almost every game. He did grow with the half, that was encouraging.
Even Cesc was having trouble. His game was all over the place!
It wasn’t all bad… despite not being on our game, we were still carving out chances. The first 40 minutes were a great example of playing badly and still threatening. Something that didn’t happen last season.
Our defending was also very good. Almunia had a few iffy crosses to deal with, but overall, he did pretty well. Vermaelen and Gallas were doing a very good job of disrupting the Crouch affect, deciding if they couldn’t beat him in the air, they’d put him off with physical hustle and make sure they always won the second header.
Cesc nearly broke the dead lock, but his passed shot was kept out with a tidy Gomes save. Robin also went very close but was again rebuffed by the hands of Gomes. Nik B picked up an injury and we were nearly exposed by his inability to run when Spurs flew past him unchallenged. Wenger was losing the plot on the sidelines! Eduardo entered the field of play and if I’m fair, it was the type of decision that was needed regardless off Niks injury.
It didn’t take long for Arsenal to chalk a number on the score board. Sagna, who was distributing the ball like he was trying to ruin his opta stats, whipped a dangerous ball into the box… Robin bundled into the box and slotted it tamely under Gomes. 1-0 up… what a sweet moment.
Just as we were all hugging out, we looked up, Robin dispossessed Keane (I think) from the centre kick, laid it off to Cesc who waltzed past 4 players and banged it past Gomes with Thierry like composure!
‘Did that just happen? Yeaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!’
2-0 up, we were in dream land. The talk at half time was about whether it was too early to start sending reprisal texts to our friends of ‘yid army’ descent?
The second half started and a different Arsenal emerged. Crisp passing football replaced the first half’s lack lustre laboured performance. Things just clicked, Spurs looked buried and we began to pick away at them…
It didn’t take long for us to grab our third. Eduardo laid the ball out wide to Sagna, got crunched in the process… Sagna stopped, looked round, the ref waved play on… Sagna fizzed a ball into the box, Gomes spilled, Robin slotted home. 2 goals for Robin, 2 assists for Sagna and certain victory for the Gooners.
If I’m honest, we could have had 6. Spurs were truly garbage, they had nothing in the locker bar the long ball. Top 4? They’ll be lucky to break into the top 8 this season. It was pretty funny to see Bassong go off towards the end, another injury to a defender.
Arsenal missed a whole host of chances in the second half. Eduardo, through on goal, with only Gomes to beat, managed to slot wide. Who’d have thunk it? Diaby went close with a shot back across goal, Gallas and Arshavin also spurned opportunities. As the game wore on, what was important for me was the clean sheet. Almunia was tested on a number of occasions, notably from a stinging David Bentley freekick, to which he pulled off a spectacular tipped save.
The ref blew up for full time, Arsenal recorded a very important win and continued the title push.
So a few things that need to be mentioned. Arsene Wenger needs to be commended for putting out a half decent team in midweek. Sequences are very important in football, an unneccessary loss against Liverpool cold have seen a different outcome today. Look what happened to Liverpool, 3-1 losers to Bolton. I also thought Arsenal paid more respect to the way Spurs played than usual. We dealt with the aerial threat much better than normal… understanding the way the opposition play is key to nullifying their strengths, we did that today. I was also impressed with the way we came out in the second half and that we managed to come out of the first half with a lead.
Oh, and a final mention to the fans, who were magnificent!
Almunia: I wasn’t sure whether reintroducing a keeper low on confidence, to a North London Derby, was a good idea. If he’d dropped a clanger today, Wenger could have found himself with a real dilemma. My worries didn’t come to fruition, he was top draw after a shaky start, making some very tidy saves, especially in the second half. 7.5
Sagna: His passing in the first half was abysmal. Like I said earlier, it was like his was in a competition with Diaby to make the most incomplete passes in a game! That didn’t stop him setting up two Robin Van Persie goals and it didn’t affect his defending which got better with the game. 7
Gallas: Took it in turns with Vermaellen to rough up Crouch and dealt particularly well with Keane. 8
Vermaellen: Took most of the aerial ball challenges and did superbly considering Crouch is officially the new face of Big Green Giant sweet corn. A top effort, a yellow card and a growing affection developing among the gooner faithful. I think I love him… 8.5
Clichy: I tidy game from our tenacious left back. He got forward to great effect today, at one point finding himself alone heading toward goal, but not having the confidence to unleash a Nigel Winterburn rasper! 7
Song: Started the first half like a right lemon. His passing was terrible and he was making alsorts of silly mistakes. The whole midfield was guilty of this, but as the game grew, so did he… by the time the second half began, he had found his game and started to play with a lot more confidence. In the end, he turned in a good performance. 7
Diaby: A very poor showing from our Frenchman of said potential. His passing was erratic, his ball retention was poor and he was messing up all over the pitch. Someone get this man a space on the bench, because he is playing terribly. 4
Cesc: Started in very un-Cesc like fashion, spraying passes around Gilberto on a bad day and failing to get a grip on the game. He did manage to get on the score sheet with a superb powered run through the heard of the Spurs defence, driving home the second. That gave him the confidence to kick on in the second half when he started playing his game. 7
Arshavin: Spent most of the first 40 on his arse, but he was our only real threat. He played much better in the second half, sitting incredibly deep for the type of player he is. He knows how to pick out a pass and his deft flicks leave the opposition baffled at times. 7
Robin: I hope those who stated our Dutchman wasn’t good enough for a central role have put that humble pie in the oven and upped the gas mark. The boy wonder is on fire lately, finishing well and adapting to that central role like most of us knew he would. I think that’s 7 goals so far this year! I can’t fail to be happy about that… what a top player! 8
Nik B: Was having a bit of a shocker if I’m fair… hopefully he’s not out for too long. 5
Eduardo: Had a tidy game out wide, guilty of a couple of very easy missed chances. 6
Eboue: The coach loves sticking this guy on. He came on to little effect, but at least he got a run out. 6
Rambo: 3 minutes isn’t really enough to get a hold of the game. Lost his head a little when Bassong fell down injured next to him during a run… he should have powered on, concentrated and laid off the right pass. He froze a little and we missed out on our 4th. 6
So, is it time to talk about challenging this year? Lets wait until the cold weather lands, then I’ll start talking! This time last year, I think it was snowing… are we finally feeling the benefits of global warming? I hope so! Bring on the November tan!
See you in the comments!