Apr 202011

Spurs 3 (Van der Vaart 7, pen 70, Huddlestone 44) Arsenal 3 (Walcott 5, Nasri 12, Van Persie 40)

So that is that – mathematically it is not over, but realistically we all know the title challenge is now dead in the water after a crazy match at White Hart Lane which swung from us being in complete control to being relieved to escape with a point. I actually thought both sides raised their game to produce an enthralling match that in reality did neither side any favours, and in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

Although this is the match that probably finally extinguished our hope, when you look at the last couple of months as a whole, it isn’t this one that hurt us – the costly matches are those that have come before. In isolation, drawing away at Spurs is not a bad result, especially when you consider how well they played in the second half, but the draws at home to Blackburn, Sunderland and Liverpool have hit hard. Win two of those games and we’re a home win against United from topping the table.

I have a feeling that by the morning there will be quite the backlash against this Arsenal team for losing yet another two goal lead, but ironically this is perhaps the one occasion where such vilification would be unjustified. Spurs scored one wonder goal to get back to 3-2 and controlled much of the second half. Despite that, we actually defended very well, Szczesny making some excellent saves but blotting his copybook by conceding the decisive penalty, losing a footrace with Lennon and bringing him down. In fairness to the Pole, he didn’t retreat into his shell, and were it not for the saves that followed we could have come away with nothing.

In the past, we’ve failed to close out matches because of complacency, lack of effort, or panic. None of those traits were on display tonight, Spurs were just excellent coming forward and tested us repeatedly, eventually breaking us down. Similarly, it was our most flowing attacking display in a while, particularly in the first half, and it was perhaps our inability to keep that pace going in the second half that ultimately cost us.

The first half was breathless stuff. Walcott scored the opener after five minutes, slotting home from a Cesc pass, but Spurs were level within minutes, Van der Vaart finishing coolly. Remarkably, it was 2-1 after 12 minutes, Nasri firing through Dawson’s legs to catch Gomes before he was set, but we all knew the scoring was far from complete. Both sides had further chances before the half ended with the two best goals of the game.

First Theo did brilliantly after Gallas had miscontrolled Sagna’s cross, digging out a cheeky chipped ball that Van Persie buried at the second attempt, but any hopes of taking a two goal lead into half time ended when Spurs scored the wonder goal they always reserve for this fixture – this year it was Huddlestone driving a half-volley into the corner to make it 3-2 at half time.

Either side could make a case that they deserved to go on and win – Van Persie had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside at 3-2, and Cesc forced a top save from Gomes at 3-3. But equally, Szczesny denied Van der Vaart his hattrick and also saved well from Sandro late on. In the end, neither set of fans can realistically complain about a lack of effort or quality, and neither team can decisively say they were the better team overall. 3-3 is probably fair.

As I said earlier, under normal circumstances the draw would be readily accepted by both sets of fans. But in context, it is painful – we had to win to stay on United’s coattails, and Spurs needed three points to stay in touch with City. It isn’t mathematically over, and we have to keep fighting until the end (not least to finish above Chelsea), but in all likelihood that is it.

I’m glad that we went out fighting, I’m glad that Cesc confounded his illogical critics by putting in a superb fighting display, and I’m glad that despite his error tonight, we’ve found ourselves a keeper for the next decade. I’m gutted that we’re going to end a promising season without a trophy, but I’m willing to argue with anyone who thinks that we need a change of manager or captain. Some things need to change, but some things do not.

Football, eh?

  28 Responses to “Spurs 3-3 Arsenal – not enough, but ultimately not the game that cost us”

  1. Still doesn’t change the fact that they threw away the game from a winning position. How much was can it get? The team’s defending is pathetic. Great going forward but utterly and absolutely shit at defending. 3-1 up just before half time. It was all so predictable that they would not be able to hold on.
    I really don’t see why you’re proud of such schoolboy defending. Van der Vart has been poor for the last couple of months, yet the Arsenal team gave him room to pull the strings
    Some things definitely need to change. Heartbreakers, this team are!

    • I’m not proud that we lost a two goal lead, but you have to admit that Spurs raised their game considerably tonight. And yes, we got hit with another wonder goal sucker punch, which is getting annoyingly habitual at White Hart Lane.

      But I think the vilification the team will inevitably get will have a lot more to do with prior results, not this one.

      • agree with the writer and this guy 100%. great game and fitting result and everything was left on the pitch, which hasn’t always been the case. It wasn’t van der vaart that pulled the strings; Modric was amazing for them as good as cesc was for us! Cracking derby very disappointing not to win, but as the writer said you can’t be disappointed with the game or the effort!

    • Thanks Yoda.

  2. Still doesn’t change the fact that they threw away the game from a winning position. How much worse can it get? The team’s defending is pathetic. Great going forward but utterly and absolutely shit at defending. 3-1 up just before half time. It was all so predictable that they would not be able to hold on.
    I really don’t see why you’re proud of such schoolboy defending. Van der Vart has been poor for the last couple of months, yet the Arsenal team gave him room to pull the strings
    Some things definitely need to change. Heartbreakers, this team are!

    • Theoretically the defending hasn’t been top notch ever since the invincible season, but I’d say out of all the seasons after that, this has been our best defensively – without vermaelen as well take not people!. Our recent run of form consists of 4 – 5 consecutive draws which would have been at least two or three losses in previous seasons. And we are unbeaten in 15 so it’s not that bad. Just need to win every game to win it as Theoretically Manu are the only team in the remaining fixture list that have a chance of beating us – with all the big guns available.

      So don’t write us off yet I personally don’t see Manu winning all three of thier next fixtures – Everton a team in good form, Arsenal – wont keep us out this time, all the big guns are back! no injuries. Draw against them would not be bad result if they botch it up at Everton. Then of course Chelsea who can’t get beaten a third time as their also in this title race.

      And Arsenal do have the formula on the pitch – its just when the rvp’s, nasris, fabregas’s and walcotts are out there doesnt seem to be a player that could comfortably fill in their boots and usually slow down are attack which has lead to the many draws and losses.. all subs apart from Squillaci, Diaby and Bendtner on the occasion have been useless and must be replaced.

      Better Quality replacement keepers .i.e. Almunia to pack his bags and we should maybe go for Sunderlands Mignolet as backup.

      Eboue – on his day he’s a good right back but at time he can do things that aren’t normal for a right back to do. If Arsene wants to play with this kind of player he should 3 center-backs for more protection

      Arshavin peaked last year and it seems his ability is decreasing year by year. Good player but just doesn’t look like he has that spark he had when he first joined.

      Rosicky just simply runs around and passes the ball – doesn’t work very hard

      Chamakh – great start to the season but seems to be more comfortable scoring with his head than feet which is unusual for a footballer. Free transfer anyway so justs adds to depth.

      Gibbs – just has pace: don’t think he can cross, shoot or is good defensively

      Also had we had vermaelen fit for at least 5 – 10 games of this season 2 or 3 trophies would be guarnteed. Perhaps if Wenger realised potential of Djorou earlier things could have gone a lot more smoothly.

      And last thing – premier league isn’t getting harder, it’s just that the top teams aren’t spending big so teams below like spurs for example, are finding it easier to close the gap.

  3. great game and good review
    i have to add tho, wenger is comical. he was the clown of the match and is the embarrassment of afc nowadays.

    • wenger always never fail to take out his frustrations on someone else. Talking about the lack of leaders, when will he ever be a leader himself by owning up to his own faults and mistakes? “The buck stops here” for a real leader, but not wenger. If at all, he’ll fight even the club’s fans – like he’s done before and recently when question by the surpporters! Looks like he’s only there for himself.

  4. This team lacks a leader as Denilson pointed out earlier in the season. Cesc despite winning the world cup has not been able to control or better still impose himself in the middle of the park this season. There have been flashes of brilliance from him yes but he is unable to inspire confidence to his teammates. Maybe Song and on occasion Wilshere stand out as leaders. Besides this,the defenders often suffer from lapse of concentration and give away stupid goals as witnessed against Liverpool and Spurs tonight. As it looks right now we might as well loose more points as the season progresses. Hopefully the verminator will be back next season and hopefully be handed the team’s armband.He seemed a natural leader for the first season he played. Cesc can go to Barcelona. I think Wishere can easily fit into his boots.Schzney is a bright spot in this team. I know he gave away a pk kick after Sagna was caught napping but he has lots of confidence.

    • I don’t understand the willingness to let Cesc go. He was outstanding tonight, and drove the team forward. He leads by example and it seems to become the done thing to have a go at him, when he has done nothing to warrant it.

  5. This match was the usual Captainless leadership tacticless Arsenal. What matters is how we fans have been exploited. Arsenal toffee nosed toffs with double barrelled names andobsolute titles have just taken millions out of the club and they have never put a penny in. Stop letting them get away with. Write to your MP and call for Govt control of the FA and taxes to deter the speculators from staying in a gamefor which they seek easy lolly.

    • Please tell me you are joking. I assume you are referring to the outgoing directors, who have done an extraordinary amount to transform this football club. Wow.

  6. It’s really not the first team it’s more the sqaud now and Bendtner and Denilson have to go because they just don’t do enougth. For next season we have more positives in the sqaud than negatives and this has to be pointed out. Goalkeeper is sorted and majority of the defence is nearly there but it does need more experience such as Mertesacker. The problem is in the Striker positions in terms of competition, when we last won the league we had Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord and Kanu with Pires adabtable if we had injury concerns. RVP is the only one that scares teams, Chamakh is a work horse but Vela and Bendtner have egos but not much else.

    I mean unless RVP, Nasri, Walcott and Arshavin don’t score we do struggle for goals which was not the problem when injuries where the problem in previous seasons. Fabregas I don’t get him at the moment one minute he looks interested and next he does something such as the clearance for the Spurs second goal which makes me think that his mind is somwhere else.

    • In fairness, you have said ‘unless RVP, Nasri, Walcott and Arshavin’ don’t score, which you could say about the forward line of any team. But I see where you’re coming from in that their goalscoring is erratic. Prior to tonight, Nasri’s goals had really dried up.

      One of the keys to the Invincibles was goals from midfield to take the pressure off the strikers and give opposing defenders a nightmare. Pires and Ljungberg used to get 25 goals between them. We’re getting there.

  7. Three moments made us lose 3 points tonight
    1. Cesc’s sloppy clearance which led to Huddlestone’s goal
    2. Song getting carded which made him retreat from marking properly (Amateurish decision)
    3. Walcott’s indecision with the ball when he could have given the ball to van Persie
    Otherwise the lads would have had a good game. For me, it’s all over

    • I’d defend number one, because he was stretching and that was all he could manage. Song getting carded (and Djourou too) restricted them somewhat, agreed there, and Walcott’s chance was a great one. I think he got the ball stuck under his feet at the crucial moment.

  8. Word for word. Great blog, thanks.

    • Thank you kindly. For everyone else, click the good ‘holic’s name and be magically transported to a good read…

  9. The big MISTAKE of wenger for not signing van der Vaart. As usual, his pride and stupidity in transfer market hit arsenal back.

    • To be honest, I disagree. Van der Vaart is an excellent player, but does strike me as someone who seriously disrupts team harmony. Things are ok for him at Spurs at the moment but they will probably turn like they did at Madrid. Already he has stormed down the tunnel a few times after being substituted. Great player, less so a person.

  10. It’s Wenger’s comments after the match that are most depressing. He ‘explains’ the Spurs goals by the fact we played more recently than them. He’ll never, ever look at his players or the way he sets the team up. Spurs went further than us in the CL by the way, Wenger. We’ve had a free run at it for a few weeks now, but he’s still trying to use fatigue as an excuse. It really is pathetic.

    • Publicly, that is his line. He has always defended his players in public,

      What he says privately is far more important.

  11. ARSENAL vs MU, CHELSEA vs SPURS, MU vs CHELSEA.. we still got a chance if we manage to win all games after this but we needs some luck to win the title.. if THOMAS VERMAELEN not injured all the season, we can win the title more easily..

  12. The main problem of our defence is that it concedes whenever its put in pressure. It might sound simple but what i’m tryin to say is that we simply dont know how to hold off the pressure. There were so many frantic clearances ystrday.

    Plus the lack of physical presence was awful once Diaby left. No one in the midfield wanted to win the 2nd ball. All the long balls and their frantic clearances were won mostly by Spurs.
    Related to this, i sometimes think, why our goalkeeper kicks the goal kick out in the open when we know that no one wil try to win the ball and it will lead to another opposition attack.

    The last major issue remains of the pressing game which opponents have started to use successfull against us. Whenever an opposition plays the pressing game, the frantic clearances start and the oppositions gets the ball more often. Its something i hope we start adapting with. Our game completly relies on one touch attacks when the pressing game is used by the opposition.

    • I know what you mean – we somehow induce panic when under the pressing game, which ironically is what our own tactic is best set up for. When we press effectively (as we did notably against Chelsea at the Grove) we can tear anyone apart but it seems we cannot sustain that level.

      Agreed on Diaby too – thought his first half work was underestimated.

  13. things need to change because you can clearly note that Arsene himself has lost confidence in his tactics.
    Till next season goon

  14. Football matches sometimes end in draws.Clearly in that situation one team always has to be in the lead at some point and then concede an equaliser.Nothing too much to be ashamed of last night as a performance like that against Blackburn,Sunderland,West Brom would have produced wins and current leadership of the league.I was not too sure about the substitutions as Nasri was having one of his better recent games and Walcott was always potentially going to use his pace against a tiring middle of the Spurs defence.I think the main problem Wenger has at the moment is his lack of quality depth in the squad.Whereas Ferguson can and does rotate constantly{leaving out Park,Valencia,Berbatov,Scholes etc for one game and then successfully bringing them in next time}the team Wenger picked last night is now more or less the team he is always going to pick to win games with Wilshere and Arshavin his only likely options.

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