Good morning Positive Arsenal fans or annyeong-hasimnikka this May Day (as they say in Pyongyang),
I admit I woke with a sharp taste in the mouth this morning. My mood was subdued. Things to be done but unsure exactly where to start on jobs that stretch out in front of me this Bank holiday. The sky light grey, the dregs of yesterday’s defeat in the glasses strewn around the place.
Of yesterday’s game not an unexpected result against a good Tottenham side who, certainly in the Premier League if not in Europe or the FA Cup, are a level above Arsenal this season. Just as Chelsea and Citeh were beaten 2-0 we joined the disappointed band. On the day they were better than us. I see that there was no shortage of BLAME to be apportioned for the result on social media, and on here!. Cut into who you want boys, they scored two and we scored zero.
It was a genuinely ‘open’ game. NLD derbies are very rarely sterile, tactical affairs. It would never be 0-0. History demands commitment and energy and I saw no shortage from anyone on either side yesterday. To add to the tension by 4.30 earlier results had provided both sides additional incentives. For us an unexpected springboard provided by Boro and Swansea past the Manchester clubs for a top 4 finish, for Tottenham the final chance to chase Chelsea. Both sides really needed three points.
We concentrated during the first half and other than two deflected half chances I thought our five-man back line defended well. The home side was faced with 8-9 red shirts as they moved towards our box and a boot or a head invariably stabbed the ball away. Our resistance was well organised and effective. Spurs had understandably came out with a plan to blow us away with an early assault but their efforts failed. In the final fifteen/twenty minutes of the half we got into the game, began to pass accurately and quickly and began to probe the Spurs’ defence. Larry was involved in a constant physical battle with the Spurs centre backs. Sanchez was weaving and bouncing. We also created two difficult goal scoring chances. Our finishing was off target.
I had cautious expectations at half time, a point achievable certainly, and if we could add quality to our offensive efforts perhaps all three.
Within twelve minutes of Michael Oliver restarting the second period we were two down. Both goals a failure of the collective concentration that had impressed me in the first disintegrated. The first goal saw two players in white shorts outwit five players in red, plus the keeper, to put away a scruffy finish. Within a minute Gabriel faced a charging Kane in the penalty box. Not another red shirt close by. The inevitable contact with the Tottenham striker took place. Kane put away a perfect spot kick.
Savage those these setbacks were we had the best part of 35-40 minutes to react and recover. Our first half efforts gave me grounds for optimism. As I said in opening there North London Derbies have goals. We had time, we had the players ……..
During that final period of the game, during which I anticipated we would fling ourselves upon the home side, we created very little. Up to the final third our football was tidy, within the final third we showed nothing to suggest we could penetrate the defence or test Lloris. There did not seem much variation in our approach. For a team full of intelligent players it was a predictable pass – pass – pass. Our shooting was always off target or weak. We had plenty of corners but each one was comfortable dealt with. Changes were made with Danny and Hector on, and later Theo, to no obvious effect. The game petered out. We had failed. My expectations were ash.
Of our players I make no criticism of Cech, the Ox nor of Kosc. Of the others I imagine left the pitch feeling dissatisfied with their afternoon’s work.
We shall not wallowing in misery for more than one day however.
We have an absolutely vital game next Sunday, against the Prince of Darkness.
Enjoy your Monday.