Tottenham regained 3rd place in the Premiership by winning a well fought local derby at The Lane.
This victory sees Spurs widen their lead in the battle for the crown of North London.
This defeat leaves Arsene Whinger’s continued tenure as manager of the Gunners in real jeopardy as unrest among the fans reaches fever pitch.
It would be doing an injustice to the home side to say the Arsenal lost this match due to its defensive shortcomings. Spurs under AVB have developed into a very well-balanced side that possesses lethal attacking weaponry supported by a very firm foundation. Vertonghen and Captain Dawson both displayed the steely qualities glaringly absent in the Arsenal back line.
It is worth pointing out that since the departure of Wenger’s assistant, Pat Rice, himself a gritty right back, the defense has never been the same. Steve Bould was bought in for exactly this purpose, but the current right-hand man has not delivered. If Wenger was to fire Bould an improvement would almost be guaranteed. It would also placate some of the Fan’s anger if they were to see some affirmative action.
Arsenal also lack a Captain of influence on the pitch. Vermaelen appears incapable of marshalling his own defense let alone the rest of the team.
Tottenham fielded a very strong team. Adebayour kept his place as Defoe was only fit enough to be named to the bench. The inexperienced Holtby gave way as AVB preferred to have Sigurdsson play with the Parker/Dembele combination. Dempsey was probably the only player of contention not available.
Arsenal also had the luxury of a mostly fit squad. Jenkinson was the slightly surprising choice in a game of this magnitude, but he more than justified his selection with forays down the right hand side. Giroud kept his spot up top, Poldolski named to the bench.
The game started with the Gunners looking like they meant business. Cazorla, Wilshere and Arteta were bossing the midfield and Arsenal threatened on a number of occasions Yet they failed to take advantage of the pressure that they put Spurs under. Giroud’s and Walcott’s failings in the final third all too apparent.
The frustrations of the home team nearly got the better of them when after 18 mins of being under the cosh Emmanuel Adebayor was booked for a nasty tackle on Ramsey. Clattenburg, who superbly refereed the contest, gave the Togoan the benefit of the doubt in not seeing Red and avoiding a repeat of the last time these two sides met.
Arsenal’s early dominance soon dissipated and they shortly undid all their good work. Haunted by continuing defensive frailties, they conceded twice in as many minutes. Bale (36) and Lennon (38) scored carbon copy goals as they both sprung the offside trap, embarrassing the Arsenal defense. Playing a high-line and pitting the donkey-esque Mertesacker and Vermaelen against two of the quickest forwards in the EPL was asking for trouble. Credit to the Tottenham forwards, who both finished with the type of poise which would grace any Champions League stage.
The first half ended with the Arsenal players looking bemused and bewildered. Two goals down away from home when they could have been in the lead.
Arsene Wenger looked as deflated as his puffer coat after a herd of Elephants has used it as a picnic blanket.
We all know that 2-0 is a “dangerous” score. Arsenal soon made a game of it when 5 minutes after the restart Mertesacker headed a Ramsey free kick past the otherwise excellent LLoris.
Wenger made the necessary attacking changes in search of an equalizer. Rosicky for Jenkinson, and Podolski for Arteta.
He also switched Aaron Ramsey to right back. The Welshman, who is not having the best of seasons, probably had the best chance of tying the scores when he broke on the counter. but yet again lack of composure was his downfall. He is beginning to look out of his depth in this league.
Bale blasted over the bar from short range, a rare failure to convert from the other Welshman. He certainly is not out of his depth, if anything he may need a sterner challenge. El Classico beckons!
Defoe replaced an injured Adeybayor, returning from his recent lay off he was amongst the action. He slid Sigurdsson through in the 85th minute but with only Szczesny to beat and odds on to score, the Icelandic international failed to extend the lead.
Tottenham held fast for the remaining minutes, including 6 for added time due to a couple of extended injury breaks. William Gallas was bought on in the 95th minute for the shortest appearance of his career. Just enough time for the Gooner fans to goad him with a “reject” chant.
Tottenham are a team in ascendance. AVB’s man management has obviously improved no end and Daniel Levy is reaping the rewards of the risky appointment he made last year.
Arsenal are a team in decline. 7 points adrift of Tottenham and 5 behind Chelsea, with a probable exit from the Champions League in a week or so, all is not well.
Arsenal Fans are quick to point out that they are the ONLY team that has NEVER been relegated from the Premiership/Old First division. I have bad news. They are now officially relegated. Maybe not from the division itself, but importantly from the top-tier of it! They have joined the likes of Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle in the also -rans category.
Wenger will always be deserving of legendary status at the Emirates, but it’s time to book that one-way ticket on the Euro-star. PSG will welcome him with open arms, and a change is as good as a rest.