Sunday, 1 November 2009

If Carlsberg made eleven second periods....Match Report.

Count the years off one by one. Every single year in this decade we have played Spurs home and away in the League. And out of twenty matches we haven't lost a single one. Not a single one.

Even if we had lost one, we could still reflect on the annual difference between the teams shown by the League table. But there was never the necessity to feel the pain of a defeat.

Often, football is about opinion. But this is cut and dry. Clearly, the noughties belong to Arsenal - not just in terms of derby matches, but also if you want to look at trophies. And they belong to us absolutely.

Yesterday, Spurs came to The Grove. They were apparently a much improved team. Their bench - including Bale, Hutton and Pavlyuchenko as its most illustrious stars - was, according to Robbie Keane, much better than ours.

So, one might have expected this Spurs side to give Arsenal a good match. Yet, in open play, the only chance they created was when Robbie Keane managed to get into the Arsenal box, only for Alex Song to rob him of the ball.

Considering the money Harry has spent, I expected to see an improvement amongst the Spurs ranks. Yet, Wilson Palacios - the man who Spurs fans insist is the best defensive midfielder in the Premiership (he's better than Essien, Carrick and Song y'know) - managed to give Arsenal the ball straight back from the kick-off.

The reports of Spurs being marginally dominant for the first forty minutes are nonsense. It was scrappy but the chances fell to Arsenal. Bendtner was the best player on the pitch so it was disheartening to lose him to an injury but it was more a case of us slightly over-hitting our passes and not spotting players than Spurs dominating.

And the crowd was not 'getting restless' Harry. It wanted Arsenal to score but it was noisy and supporting the team. A couple of people may have shouted at Diaby but the crowd was very much behind the team. And it was enjoying the opportunity to bait David Bentley.

But crucially, to be a 'big' side you need to play well for ninety minutes. So, to use an excuse, that 'we just switched off for a couple of minutes' is laughable.

The first goal was well worked, although noticed that Ledley King should get to the ball before RVP. That is the same Ledley King who Fabregas skipped past on the way to scoring the second goal, and the same Ledley King who failed to clear Sagna's cross for the third goal. The deification of Ledley King by Spurs fans must surely end here.

Spurs fans have always been deluded but they have managed to dupe the media into believing in the Ledley King conspiracy. I have read countless times how he would play for England if he wasn't permanently crocked and that he is naturally the best defender in the world. What a load of codswallop.

Because whilst we dominated, we weren't brilliant yesterday. Yet, we could have had four of five against a really very poor Spurs defence. Eduardo missed a couple of chances which he would normally stick in the back of the net. The point here, is not that he made a couple of errors, but that he was part of a Spurs defence which was repeatedly cut open.

Perhaps the goals we scored were gifted to us but we could have scored many others. What's more, Wenger seemed really switched on in terms of management. Last week, I criticised him for his ineptitude at substitutions and how he never changed things tactically. Yet, his frustration this week at Diaby and Song playing too high up the pitch, even at 3-0, tells a different story.

It shows that there is a man there who realises there are greater battles to come than Spurs. And we need to be defensively astute for when they do come. Four weeks today, we play Chelsea at home. Win then, and I will really start to believe in this title chase. Till then, we need more of the same.

Because after all, beating Spurs doesn't prove anything: they're not really rivals. It just gives up pleasure.

Keep the faith,

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