The Derby

So yet another installment of the fiery North London derby has passed. Tottenham, missing Jermaine Defoe through a suspension and Aaron Lennon through injury, looked a shadow of the side which threatened to take over one of the top 4 spots earlier in the season. Arsenal, on the other hand, were magnificent. Their movement was splendid, passing was superb, and unlike last week at Upton Park, they managed to keep their heads straight and maintain a clean sheet. People will be talking about this one. Were Arsenal too good? Or did Tottenham self destruct?

Both Ledley King and Heurelho Gomes were at fault for the first goal. They should have handled Sagna’s crossed better; it was a rather tame one. King managed to allow Van Persie to sneak in and put a foot on the ball and Gomes just did what he did best. Not save the ball. Credit to Van Persie though. He has looked so sharp this season; always chasing down balls, getting into good positions, fighting to win the ball. There is an intent that wasn’t present last season.

I hardly had time to start singing “One Nil to the Arsenal” when Fabregas practically took the ball past the entire Spurs midfield and drilled one into the corner. Again, could Spurs have done better? Definitely. Upon closer inspection, it seemed like none of the Spurs players thought Fabregas’ run would amount to anything. Quite an unwise bit of underestimation, considering the form Cesc has been on. Gomes, again, like the rest of his team, could have done much much better.

At the other end, Bentley had a decent free kick tipped over the bar. However, at one point of the game i caught a glimpse of the shots on goal by each team. Arsenal had 15 at the time, Tottenham a measly three.

Finally, the last goal, which really was due to abit of confusion between the players and the referee. Mr Clattenburg had played the advantage but everybody was expecting play to be pulled back. Sagna reacted first, launching a low cross in for Van Persie to slot in off Ledley King.

Being a Gunner myself, I can’t say how delighted i am with this result. It is afterall, the North London Derby. However, the performance left me wondering, what if Defoe and Lennon had been eligible to play? With Lennon adding width and Defoe adding a sting to the side, would the early pressure have been enough to shake up Arsenal’s young hearts. At the start of the second half, Spurs did enjoy a short spell of pressure after ‘Arry switched things up abit.

Just like it was too early for Robbie Keane to count his chickens before they hatch, it would be too early for me to call Arsenal genuine title contenders. They always seem to do well at the beginning before either complacency or a lack of concentration sets in. For our sakes, i hope they maintain this run of form. With them providing such a wonderful quality of football, I hate to imagine what we would have to turn to for entertainment come Premiership Weekend.

24 thoughts on “The Derby”

  1. From a fellow gunner, a little more fairness good sir. While I enjoyed your piece on today’s wonderful match, if you were to be fair about the first half of play, the weren’t really resembling anything magnificent. I think most of us saw a relatively determined Spurs presence, especially in midfield, and Arsenal struggled to create anything approaching superb or splendid.

    Right up until the jaw-dropping events on the cusp of halftime. We then saw a more confident and looser side after the break, and of course the free flowing football would come forward after that. Coupled with their now wilting defense, Tottenham’s spirit was teetering, and the Gunners crushed them under their boot, compelled thankfully to utilize the harsh lesson of last week’s encounter with the Hammers. And what better time than the Derby, eh?

    And yes the Spurs would have given Arsenal more to deal with if Defoe and Lennon were present. But most teams deal with injuries throughout their seasons, even the one who wins the title. And as the commentators observed in the 2nd half, it’s the mark of a very good team to win in the face of adversity, whether that adversity is injury or not playing at your best.

    Arsenal were good, but not great. But more importantly today, they were better than Tottenham.

    1. “And yes the Spurs would have given Arsenal more to deal with if Defoe and Lennon were present. But most teams deal with injuries throughout their seasons, even the one who wins the title.”

      Complete BS. No top team, bottom team, mid-team, can withstand injuries to their top players. Look at Liverpool without Torres and Gerrard! When Arsenal have had injuries in the past couple seasons, they faltered. Would they have finished higher without the injuries – probably. Would ManU have won without Ronaldo? Unlikely. To discount that Tottenham was missing 4 of their best players and ALL their creative players (Modric, Lennon AND Defoe) is to deceive yourself and gives too much credit to Arsenal. Not to mention they played at the Emirates where Arsenal are extremely hard to beat. That Arsenal won isn’t shocking. That Arsenal was lucky to win that easily is.

  2. I really enjoyed this one, especially the second goal which was almost missed while they were busy replaying the first goal! I’m new to the EPL, but I subscribe to the EPL Talk RSS feed and read the articles. I’m trying to choose a club, and Arsenal was fun to watch. Does anyone have recommendations or places to point a new fan of the EPL?

  3. How poor was that of ESPN to miss the second goal? Basically, they were showing replays of the Van Persie goal and all of a sudden they had to cut to the ball hitting the back of the net because they missed THE ENTIRE PLAY as Fabregas scored the second goal for Arsenal.

    Do they still not get it? How do you miss showing a goal in a football game?

    1. I agree, replays can only do little justice to the feeling we all were robbed of had we seen the entire run LIVE. Very upsetting to not see one of the goals of the year as it happened, terrific goal by the captain!

  4. So, what of Robbie Keane’s claims now? Is there anyone in the Spurs side who would start for Arsenal? I would take Jenas over Diaby after today. But that’s pretty much it.

    And after Keane’s talk of having a deeper bench than Arsenal can they have any complaints about injuries? That said, I think Spur’s biggest miss today was Modric. No midfield creativity at all today from them.

    1. You’re delusional. Lennon is the key to the Spurs punch, with Modric and Defoe a close second. I would take Modric (over Diaby and Song, yes, he’s that bad), Defoe (over Bendter and Eduordo), Lennon (better than Walcott, Eboue, and the other wing pretenders for Arsenal), and BAE (not because he’s good, but more because Clichy simply cannot pass or cross the ball, shockingly awful).

      And you can have Jenas. In fact, please take him. He’s awful.

        1. “Oh, and Palacios or Huddlestone over Song and Diaby.”

          and now you’re just dreaming. sure, diaby played like he was on your team during most of the game. but palacios and huddlestone were nowhere on saturday. palacios started out ok and is a decent stopper.

          but you’ll note one team failed to score and had absolutely nothing to offer in the final third. song played great.

          palacios did get an assist on cesc’s goal though, so i suppose it’s not all for nothing.

      1. well, i haven’t seen much of spurs this year. but it was pretty obvious to me that they didn’t have a playmaker on the pitch. sure, they’re better with lennon out there than not. but he’s not the provider modric can be. he doesn’t make other players better like modric can.

        but taking modric over song and diaby isn’t even a debate. he plays a different position. defoe over bendtner, sure. eduardo v. defoe is a push for me, but whatever.

        jenas was the only midfield threat on your squad saturday. he may not fit the mix of the team, but i think he’s starting to figure things out.

        1. You are completely clueless. I’d take Modric over Song and Diaby because they were awful. They got completely overrun by Huddlestone and Palacios. It took poor defending at the back by Spurs (a common occurence I’m afraid) to leak a goal. But the midfield duo of Diaby and Song were dominated by Spurs. They created nothing. Jenas played as a CAM in the first half, in which we created very little, then replaced Huddlestone in CM in the 2nd Half. Jenas did very, very little, much like Song and Diaby. Arsenal won;’t win the league unless they improve in midfield and upfront (Van Persie and Fabregas aside). Are they better than a healthy Spurs? I think so, but it’s close.

          And Lennon is the provider on Spurs. Modric is a fantastic player, but Lennon is a game changer.

          Eduordo vs Defoe is a push? You’re kidding, right. Thanks for the laugh.

          1. You have a but of a tendency to drop the ad hominem in there, Pahleese. Calling people clueless and delusional isn’t a very effective way to make a point, whether you are right or wrong. You can make your argument without attacking others.

            In at least one respect, I agree with b. You cannot compare Song or Diaby to Modric. They play very different roles in their teams. Your judgment of Song and Diaby is that they were “dominated by Spurs” because “they created nothing”. But, as b pointed out, attacking creativity is not the role of either of these players. Both Song and Diaby are there, like Palacios, to break up opposition attacks, win back possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch, and shield the back four. Creativity IS the role expected of Modric, while Palacios and Huddlestone perform the roles assigned to Song and Diaby. If you want to properly compare midfield players, then you should be comparing Modric to Fabregas, who performs the creator role, and I don’t think there is much of a comparison to be had there.

            As for Huddlestone and Palacios over Song and Diaby, based on the roles described above, I think you excessively unfair to Song. He has been very effective at winning possession and breaking up play. Much more so than any similar player on Spurs – he has been vastly superior to Palacios or Huddlestone in both the derby match and most of the other games in the season.

            After that, I concede that Palacios has been better than Diaby, both in the derby and overall. I would probably put Huddlestone ahead of Diaby, but only on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes he is better and sometimes Diaby has his moments. If I had to rate the four of them at the holding midfielder role I would put them: Song, Palacios, tie.

            Whether or not Lennon is the “provider” on Spurs depends on your definition of that term. If by “provider” you mean that he creates space for others because he is pacy and backs up defenders with that pace, then yes, he is a “provider”. But I think of a provider as the person who uses passing and field control to open up defences for the whole team. In that regard, players like Modric, Fabregas, Fletcher, and Alonso are real “providers”. And I also disagree with your assertion that Lennon is better than Walcott when both are fully fit.

            I don’t think Arsenal need to improve in the midfield or up front, as you assert. They have the lead in the league in goals scored and have only not had the majority of midfield possession in the Manchester City game. I would suggest that evidences plenty of strength in the middle and up front.

          2. not sure you noticed, but song played DM. not really meant to be creating. so while he was sitting back, and diaby was mostly passing to your team for some reason, fabregas was having his way. in the second half, diaby sat back as well and played much better. i’m really not sure how you can argue this, since your team did nothing. nothing. not even a sniff of goal, really. clearly a lot of that credit goes to song.

            if your team’s provider is a winger, you’re in trouble. or you’re blackburn. same difference, really.

  5. It’s funny to see anyone in the Big 4 get bent out of shape by comments by a player not in said Big 4. Why do you honestly think Arsenal has better players than Tottenham, genius?

    If these teams were on a level playing field, it would be one thing to talk down to others. When you can buy your way to a foreign all-star team, it’s a different thing altogether. If you compile an All-Star team, you probably shouldn’t belittle others who really have no chance of competing with you and shouldnt even dare do so…

    Arsenal’s All-Stars:

    van persie-HOLLAND

    eboue-IVORY COAST
    rosicky-CZECH REPUBLIC

    oh yeah, english players!
    Walcott, Wilshere, and Gibbs. Out of 29 players, there are only three from England?!?!?!?! Sad.

    1. Um, level playing field? In the last 5 years Spurs have a net spend of 98,450,000 vs. Arsenal’s -26,270,000. Since the inception of the Premier League, Spurs have a net spend of 177,832,500 vs 32,366,000 of Arsenal (figures found at Spurs buy plenty of foreign talent but they just don’t do it as well as Arsenal.

    2. A. Robbie Keane brought it up, I was just answering. Take up your complaints with him.
      B. Not sure what a player’s nationality has to do with anything.
      C. I think Arsenal has better players because Wenger and his staff are better coaches and have a better scouting system. Genius.
      D. What the Voice of Reason said. If Tottenham had any ability to judge players at all, they would’ve turned all of that money spent on evil foreigners into a top four finish by now.

  6. Finally, the last goal, which really was due to abit of confusion between the players and the referee. Mr Clattenburg had played the advantage but everybody was expecting play to be pulled back.

    The replay showed Clattenburg gave the “advantage” sign immediately, so the Spurs defenders have nobody to blame but themselves.

    1. The replay showed BOTH teams stopping for a good 2-3 seconds. The ref screwed up – the free flow of play stopped. If Arsenal had not scored, Wenger and Arsenal would have been screaming bloody murder that the free kick wasn’t given. That said, Tottenham could have easily prevented the goal. Shocking goalkeeping and defending by Gomes and King. Just shocking.

  7. Gunner JD makes a good point. They didnt look that great the first half. Diaby sticks out to me…. cant pass to save his life. He made some big errors that could have cost us.

    Anyway, it was great to see them win and hold it to a clean sheet. Beautiful HD only added to the experience!! I hope this game had good ratings.

  8. Spurs were just to slow up front, you could tell we were in big trouble with Crouch and Keane. Would have loved to seen the match with Defoe and Lennon in.

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