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Post Match Review

History repeats itself – Arsenal 5 – 2 Spurs

It’s a win. And a win is a win no matter how you come by it. You have to play the game. And a win against derby rivals makes that win even more sumptuous.

It was Vu Je De – the feeling that Arsenal and Spurs have always been here before.

It’s a win. And a win is a win no matter how you come by it. You have to play the game. And a win against derby rivals makes that win even more sumptuous.

In the immediate aftermath of the Arsenal win over Tottenham, pundits were quick to point out that it was Emmanuel Adebayor’s sending off that dictated the outcome of the game.  For sure, before his sending off it looked like it was going to be a game.

Andre Villas-Boas set Tottenham up in a 4-4-2 with Defoe and Adebayor up front and overall the pace looked to be giving Arsenal issues. Additionally, at 11v11 Spurs had the players to close down Arteta and take him away. It was to say the least, a troubling start for Arsenal especially when the aforementioned Adebayor tapped in a rebound.

And then, Adebayor as the selfish self-centered player he is, decided to try and take out Arsenal’s best player. Sorry, I don’t buy or see anything that says this was “careless” His top foot was up immediately when he went in for the tackle. Like the stamp on Robin’s face, he knew what he was up to. And Howard Webb knew what he had to do.

If we’re honest, someone was always getting sent off in this match. And it looked like Spurs had plenty of volunteers. I personally thought Sandro would be the first to go.

To focus on the sending off as the sole reason for the Arsenal win is lazy. Absolutely, having 10v11 for 73 minutes turns the tide in your favor but you still have to play and frankly we all know that Arsenal lack a certain effectiveness of late and especially with 10 men behind the ball. Something I think that was expected of Spurs once they were sent off.

Before the match, Spurs issues were talked about as much as Arsenal’s and frankly those issues were in full display as Spurs completely self-destructed for the last 27 minutes of the first half. Frankly, as bad as they were in the first half they were lucky they only got away with conceding 3 goals.

There was no discipline or effectiveness to their shape and Arsenal sensing this, just ran them ragged.  They used their wing play effectively and now with space in the middle Arteta, Cazorla, and Wilshere had time and space to exploit.

But the real advantage opened up on the right. Theo Walcott, who in my opinion put on a man of the match performance – if it weren’t for the stylistic passing of Santi Cazorla, made Naughton so uncomfortable for the first half that it was no surprise to see him gone in the second. It wasn’t solely his fault though as the “world’s greatest” never provided his teammate enough cover.  And it was because of this that Theo had his way down the right and 6 minutes after the sending off lofted a lovely cross that was put into the upper right corner by a rising German.

Mertesacker’s goal in much the same way Sagan’s header did last season, turned the game. From then on in it was wave after wave of attack. We’ve obviously taken note of Giroud’s ability to head the ball in because we were crossing non-stop from the right. Be it Walcott or Sagna, good crossing was displayed and the French forward latched on two emphatic chances, one that was luckily saved by Lloris and another that pushed the Spurs keeper back a yard to as it shot into his gut.

But Arsenal and Giroud wouldn’t be denied.  The second goal came off of a Podolski shot that was deflected off of Gallas’ ankle and dribbled into the net. The third was Giroud at his strong-man best. Two men on him absolutely shrouded, he took a Cazorla pass and as he was falling backwards, beat the two defenders, and shot a low hard ball into the left corner out of the reach of his compatriot.

The second half was worrisome. Now, I don’t know if Wenger anticipated that AVB would press more in the second and decided to sit back to catch them on the counter, but for the first 7 or so minutes Spurs had far more of the ball then I was personally comfortable with.  But Arsenal held on and did get the advantage on the counter as Walcott cut in from the right, found Podolski charging forward who found Cazorla wide open on the left who easily beat the keeper.

However, as a reminder that all is still not well in Arsenal-land, Bale got a shot through Koscielny;’s legs that beat Szczesny to draw the visitors back to 4-2, and had Bale opted to pass to Defoe a few minutes later rather than shoot, it’s quite probably we would’ve been looking at a 4-3 scoreline.

Lucky for Arsenal thought that Walcott, is continuing to make his case for staying at Arsenal. He had a few chances  before his eventual goal that may have left some Gooners frustrated, especially the two breakaway chances where his first touch failed him but that is expected at times even from the best players. His second shot came from a Oxlade-Chamberlain assist, cutting  in from the right and Theo beating the keeper with a shot across his body and into the far corner  – his favorite location to hit – coming in from the right like he does.

So it’s a win. A win puts Arsenal back up 2 more spots. It also will leave the focus for now on our rivals from North London. But even in the euphoria we still have questions that need to be answered. But there were also plenty of positives beside the win.

  1. Podolski was back to working hard in both aspects of his game. He not only got forward on the left but was providing defensive cover,
  2. Cazorla seemed spry again. For the last few weeks we had been a lethargic at best.  That was even after flying all the way back from Panama the day before.  If he can maintain it, then Arsenal’s chances improve, and
  3. Olivier Giroud continues to come good. His goal yesterday was his 5th in five games. He has 8 in all competitions (only 3 behind that former striker of ours). At the rate he is going, he will crack double figures before the end of the year and could very well hit the 20+ mark. That wouldn’t be bad for someone people were calling the next Chamakh.

The needs are still there. A solid back for Gibbs, another CB to offer competition and a striker to backup Giroud. But it was a 5-2 win versus Spurs last season that saved Arsenal’s season last year. This year is shaping up like the year we brought Arshavin in. Just outside the Champion’s League spot we covet. If it stays like this through the boxing day festivities then we will likely be in the market in January.

For now, we’ve won. All it took was a header to change the season last year. Let’s hope a similar result ensues after this one.

All the key stats and moments from Arsenal v Tottenham


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