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Arsenal Vs Tottenham Match Report

by on February 27, 2012

After the spineless performances against Milan and then Sunderland, a win against Spurs would have been the perfect way for the team to appease the fans. And boy, did they deliver.
We started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with our first choice back four playing together! Arteta and Song were the ‘2’ and the ‘3’ consisted of Rosicky, Walcott and Benayoun, with Van Persie leading the line. However, our bench looked much inferior to Spurs’, who had the likes of Van de Vaart, Lennon and Defoe waiting to come on.
Arsenal began nervously, and Tottenham looked dangerous whenever they broke on the counter attack, penetrating our defence at will. Their goal came about after a failed Arsenal attack, which resulted in England’s future right back- Kyle Walker – bombing forward, taking Vermaelen with him. His run opened up a massive space in the centre. Adebayor received the ball on the flank, and with Saha in plenty of room in the middle, the Togolese striker had a simple task of rolling him in. Vermaelen tried to get across but the Frenchman’s effort on goal took a heavy deflection off the Belgian, and the ball looped over the helpless Szczesny in goal. 1-0 to Spurs, albeit somewhat fortuitously.
The home faithful sought an instant reaction, and were nearly gratified. Sagna whipped the ball into the box, finding Van Persie, whose snap shot was a whisker away. Soon after, the Dutchman came close again after he let the ball roll across his body, drilling it with his left. It took a slight deflection, taking it into the side netting only. From the resulting corner, target man Tomas Rosicky made a run to the near post and his glancing header was magnificently saved by Friedal in the Tottenham goal. Once again, we just couldn’t quite find that elusive equaliser.
But yet again we were undone on the counter attack. A sublime through ball by Modric found Bale, who beat Gibbs for pace and rounded the keeper. Bale went down, and a penalty was awarded. The Welshman conned the referee, who, after a brief consultation with his linesman, went through with the decision. The fact Mike Dean failed to even book Szczesny for what surely must have been a red card, shows how uncertain he was as to whether or not he’d made the correct decision. From that, I think it’s fair to say he guessed. Anyway, just to rub salt in the wound, Adebayor stepped up, and his penalty was too accurate and powerful for the keeper, who dived the right way. 2-0 to Spurs and we certainly had a mountain to climb now. But hey, when have we ever done it the easy way?
Shortly after their second, another incisive counter attack by Tottenham was wasted. Bale opted to shoot instead of squaring it to Saha, who yet again was in a ridiculous amount of space. Had it been 3-0 before the break, it definitely would have been hard to get anything from the game.
However, Arsenal received a lifeline before the interval. A delightful Walcott flick found Van Persie, whose shot hit the post. The ball was recycled to Arteta who chipped the ball back into the box for Sagna to supremely head home. After breaking his leg at the Lane last year, his goal must have felt even sweeter. 2-1, and game on.
Then, who else but Robin Van Persie provided us with yet another piece of magic. A rather hopeful lob over the top to Walcott by Song was only partially cleared, and fell to the worst man possible for Spurs. RVP neatly worked the ball onto his left, and from outside the area, struck an absolute beauty.  He wrapped his foot round the ball and curled it into the corner of the net – it was a combination of placement and power. Friedel had no chance. 2-2, and all of a sudden Spurs were rattled.
The players came out after half time and picked up where they left off after the two quick fire goals. We were playing with a very high tempo and Spurs – who had Sandro and Van de Vaart on for Saha and Kranjcar – were struggling to contain us. Five minutes into the second half, Rosicky found Sagna in the wide position, and the Frenchman rolled it across the box for Rosicky to delicately flick the ball home. Outstanding move and an outstanding finish by the diminutive Czech playmaker – we had completed the comeback.
Step up Theo Walcott. After a poor opening 45 minutes, he bagged two clinical goals within the space of 3 minutes. The first – a delicate dink over Friedal after being rolled in by RVP – certainly showed he has a footballing brain. Only a few minutes later – the exposed Tottenham defence were dealt another blow when Theo showed his strikers touch with a low and hard shot across the keeper. The ball nestled in the corner of the net, forcing his critics to eat some very humble pie. Alex Song’s defence splitting through ball to assist Theo’s second must not go unnoticed either. 5-2 after 68 minutes, and scenes of delirium ensued amongst the home faithful.
With three minutes remaining, Tottenham’s miserable day was compounded when Scott Parker received his second yellow for a late tackle on Vermaelen. Spurs will be without their influential midfielder for their vital game against Man Utd on Sunday.
Our recent woes made this result even more sweeter, and considering what many say is Arsenal’s worst team for 15 years, beating the strongest Spurs side for 50 years, 5-2, really does make you wonder. The fact that we started with 10 out of the 11 who played in the 4-0 defeat in Milan, shows just how capable this team are – it’s just consistency we lack. I haven’t seen the team hassle and harry like they did today for a long time. They showed real fight which without a doubt has been questionable in recent performances. My final mention goes to Tomas Rosicky, who I’ve backed all along. Having been in Udinese to witness him completely run the show, I knew he had something to offer this year. With all cylinders firing, he is every bit as talented as Luka Modric, and certainly showed that today. Let’s hope he can continue his form and really prove his worth to his critics.
What a day and what a result. If we can knock five past Spurs without reply, who’s to say we can’t do the same versus Milan?
With that, I shall depart.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @rlewisafc

After Reuben’s concise match report, a few more thoughts…

So another bad start, with schoolboy defending, misplaced passes and the wrong ball being played.  Walcott was again the most maligned player, and there were more than a few people calling for his substitution as the first half wore on.  Within 34 minutes Spurs were two goals to the good – the first on 4 minutes with a really soft deflected goal off Vermaelen which looped over Szczesny.  The second Spurs goal was even softer – from where I was sitting I don’t think Szczesny or Gibbs touched Bale, who went over extremely easily.  Reading reports after the game it didn’t seem like any commentators thought it was a penalty either.  We did our best to put the Man City striker off, but the penalty went into the bottom left hand corner of the North Bank goal.  Despite falling behind, we did have a good chunk of possession and as the first half wore on, we started to make inroads, a good header by Rosicky was tipped over the bar by Friedel, and Van Persie hit the post.  Then we scored two quick goals to level the game at half time – a thumping header from Sagna and an exquisite turn and curling shot from Van Persie, beating Friedel at his right hand post.

‘I was there when Rosicky scored’ sang the crowd – not quite a drought as John Jenson had, but our number 7 hasn’t scored in the league for two years now.  I thought Rosicky was great yesterday; probably one of his best games for Arsenal, and well deserved his goal.  I was also surprised to see Benayoun on the team sheet as I got to the ground – but he also had a good game, especially in the second half.  They both hassled and harried the Spurs players, something we haven’t seen a lot of this season.  I know this was the North London derby but we need to show this commitment all the time.  The Invincibles showed this desire every week – they seemed to want to play for the cannon, the history and honour of being in an Arsenal shirt.  It ran through the team – now I only see it in occasionally and not in every player.  Has Arsene lost the respect of the players?  It’s possible he is losing patience with players having sent Arshavin on loan.  Was the Russian captain an unsettling presence in the dressing room?

This brings me to Walcott, the scorer of our last two goals.  What a difference a half made.  Theo is so much better running onto balls in the inside right position…as proved today with his two strikes 3 minutes apart.  As soon as a team sit back and strangle the space, Walcott is ineffective on the wing.  I heard a great analogy today. Teams use the boxing ‘Rope-a-Dope’ technique against us.  Soak all the pressure up on the ropes, provide enough defence and watch Arsenal tire themselves out – then hit them on the counter-attack.  A lot of the time we don’t have a plan B, so lose the game.  However yesterday Spurs sat back but couldn’t soak up the pressure effectively enough, and once we pegged it back to 2-2 their game collapsed and we hit them on the break ourselves.

We showed great resilience and character yesterday though, especially after the last two games, which were, let’s face it, pretty awful, devoid of ideas and passion.  We need to build on this win, consolidate what we achieved.  Mentally this was a huge win – I think we could have possibly imploded like last season after the Carling Cup Final if we had lost.  Let’s go forward and be proud of what we did yesterday.  I don’t think the tide has turned in North London yet.  5 against Milan?

Follow me on @shoegirl1968

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