SATURDAY 18th NOVEMBER, 2017
ARSENAL 2(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Ian Hussin & Eddie Smart
Fourth official:- Kevin Friend
Arsenal (3-4-3):- Cech; Koscielny (Capt.), Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil (sub Iwobi, 84), Lacazette (sub Coquelin, 73), Sanchez
Subs not used:- Ospina; Mertesacker, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Welbeck
Booked:- Xhaka (foul on Dele), Sanchez (foul on D. Sanchez), Mustafi (foul on Kane), Monreal (foul on Winks)
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Dembele (sub Winks, 62), Davies; Dele (sub Son, 75), Eriksen; Kane (sub Llorente, 75)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Aurier, Foyth, Walker-Peters;
Booked:- Kane (foul on Xhaka)
Out-fought, and out-thought.
Once again, Spurs failed to apply themselves against their local rivals at their home anywhere near the degree to which the home side fought this game. The Spurs team were both out-fought on the field, and the manager was out-thought tactically. It has to be said that this ranks as one of the most disappointing Spurs performances against Arsenal in recent years, especially after 6 unbeaten Premier League meetings.
One or two questions arise, such as "Were all of our recently injured players fully match fit?" Dele Alli struggled to get any foothold in the game, and Harry Kane certainly did not look at his best. That last statement applies to most of the team to be honest, as hardly a good word can be said about any of them. Personally, I felt that Moussa Sissoko was one of our best outfield players, but I know most Spurs fans think that Davinson Sanchez was our best performer. Sanchez certainly acquitted himself well against his namesake, but I wouldn't say he was in control all the time. Mind you, that always applies to Sissoko.
Where Mauricio Pochettino was out-thought by Arsene Wenger was in the Arsenal attack, where Ozil, Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez formed a three-man attack ably supported by their full backs, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey.
Spurs might have had most of the possession, but mostly they were their own worst enemies, when it should have been the red shirted horde in front of them. This was Pochettino's Spurs at their worst. Give them an attacking free kick, or throw-in and they will pass the ball backwards, only to be pressed by their opponents, putting themselves under pressure. This is simply not a style of football I want to be watching. I know we have had some good times, and we can look forward to Champions League football in the New Year, but a fighting performance at our arch-enemies' place is the very least we fans should expect from our team. Wenger's men always put up a good show.
Look at the bookings count. Arsenal were shown four yellow cards. Only Harry Kane was booked for Spurs, and that decision was debatable from a referee, who failed to please either set of fans.
Spurs kicked off, playing away from their fans. There was a promising early move down the right flank with Davinson Sanchez, Trippier and Sissoko working well together. However, after only four minutes, Alexis Sanchez had the ball on the left, passing it inside to Lacazette, who lifted his shot well over the bar.
Hugo Lloris hit a long clearance for once, and Harry Kane had the ball on the left channel. Kane came inside and hit a shot which was easy held by Cech. That Sanchez, Trippier and Sissoko combination bore fruit when Sissoko got a good cross over but Dele Alli hit his shot wide.
Ramsey found Bellerin in space on their right (Ben Davies' flank) but the full-back's cross passed clear of the area. Davies was perhaps not getting sufficient support at the back from those in front of him, but when going forward he did manage plenty of crosses.
Xhaka was guilty of a blatant forceful challenge on Sissoko, but got no card and only "words" from Mike Dean, who was booed by both sets of fans at various stages of the game.
Davies got a cross in for Harry Kane, but the header was comfortable for Cech. Another Sissoko/Trippier move ended with a cross via Dembele and Eriksen, giving Kane another opportunity, which was hit to the keeper.
Xhaka did get the first booking of the game for his foul on Dele. Davies passed inside to Eriksen, whose shot was again easy for Cech. Kane got on the end of another Sissoko cross, and Cech had to stretch his arms above his head to hold this one.
So far Spurs had been holding their own, although Arsenal had exerted some pressure, without truly testing Lloris. That all ended when Davinson Sanchez was harshly penalised for his challenge upon Alexis. Ozil took the free kick, and defender Mustafi rose at the back of the area to head past Lloris's right hand and into the net off the inside of the post.
Alexis, who was booked for a challenge on our Sanchez, made it 2-0 in the 41st minute, Lacazette received a piercing ball from the right channel, and crossed to the middle of goal. Alexis finished off with a shot to the roof of the net, and celebrated his goal with the zest of a player who would be staying with Arsenal, and not moving to Man City in January.
Spurs had a long hill to climb, and never succeeded in getting back into the game. Kane did receive a ball towards the left side and made room for a right foot shot, but pulled it so wide he was cheered/jeered by the now exuberant home fans.
Spurs failed to create the same proportion of chances in the second half as they had in the first period. Arsenal were happy to sit back, but often pounced with pace, penetration and genuine threat. That was something we failed to do.
Kane got on the end of a Dembele cross, but his header was too soft, high and easy for the Arsenal keeper. Kane then got booked for a challenge on Xhaka on the bye-line. Davies hit a dangerous cross, which was not met, and Kane went down in the box winning nothing. Soon after that Eriksen had a shot which was diverted out for a corner.
At the other end, Hugo Lloris could only fingertip a corner which passed to the opposite side for an Arsenal throw.
Dembele was replaced by Harry Winks, but he did not find it any easier to win out against such a determined Arsenal team. Eriksen hit a shot well off target, after another Davies ball.
Alexis Sanchez hit one shot over and had another one well saved by Lloris, as he attacked from the left of goal.
Both Harry Kane and Dele Alli went off with fifteen minutes remaining. Llorente and Son were their replacements. Lloris made another good save from Alexis, from short range too.
Llorente found Eriksen, but again, his shot was easy for Cech. Spurs had, quite frankly, become toothless in the second half. Cech did have to palm away a Dier header from Davies' cross, which might otherwise have reached Davinson Sanchez or Llorente.
Ozil left the field (very slowly) to rapturous applause from the home crowd, before Son spurned arguably the best Spurs chance. Llorente headed the ball down, but Son couldn't even get his shot on target.
There were four minutes of added time, and misses at both ends, but it was all too late for Spurs, whose fans had to endure the home fans chanting "Tottenham Hotspur, you'll always be s**t". We are still above them in the league though, despite this defeat.
One disturbing story reaching me today was that Danny Rose was apparently fit for selection, but not included in the squad and did not travel. One wonders if we will hear more of this, and whether Rose will travel to Dortmund for Tuesday night's game.
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