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Arsenal Was Old Tottenham In Disguise Against Man United

Ji Sung Park Celebrates Scoring 1st goal Manchester United 2010/11 Manchester United V Arsenal 13/12/10 The Premier League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

This season there’s been a dramatic change in the mentality of North London’s fiercest rivals. In the past, Tottenham Hotspur was always the underachievers, the club who promised so much in the big matches but always flattered to deceive. And now with Tottenham’s resurgence under Harry Redknapp this season where they have beaten the likes of Inter Milan, Arsenal and came within a whisker of defeating Chelsea.

Contrast the Tottenham and Arsenal matches during the past 24 hours and you’ll see the remarkable difference. Tottenham was full of confidence, pushing the current Premier League title holders to the brink and creating chance after mouthwatering chance. Arsenal, meanwhile, was a limp corpse unable to mount a serious attack. And when they attempted to do so, they were so predictable, had such a poor final ball and were easily cancelled out by Manchester United’s defense. The back four for the Red Devils resembled a cauldron at times with Arsenal unable to penetrate the walls time after time.

It makes you wonder how different an Arsenal side under the tutelage of Harry Redknapp would perform. The cockney manager seems to do a better job of getting the most out of his players during the big occasions. Arsene Wenger’s side, meanwhile, is like a wet mop. Short of ideas. Shooting hopeful shots from outside the area as they fizz way past the goal. They even made a poor performance by Manchester United look decent. And that’s saying a lot during a very sloppy game with 53 misplaced passes.

Manchester United looked strong in the back but lacked the skill to keep possession of the ball in midfield. But after United knocked the ball in the back of the net from an inventive Park Ji Sung header, it seemed that the Red Devils were walking their way to winning all three points. Arsenal failed to stretch Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Even with the late introduction of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, Arsenal still ran into the brickwall of United’s defense. If only Wenger had been more adventurous in his team selection by employing  a 4-4-2 with van Persie starting up front alongside Chamakh, things may have been different.

But they weren’t. And it’s back to the drawing board for Arsenal. It’s a shame that so few players on Arsenal’s side Monday failed to do what was necessary to break down Manchester United. Arshavin was weak, so too was Sagna and Song. Clichy and Chamakh, meanwhile, looked off their game. The only bright spot was Wojciech Szczesny, which is a worrying sign when your goalkeeper is the best performer on their side.

In the matches that make a statement of intent, here are the North London club’s results so far this season:

  • Arsenal: Lost against Man United, Chelsea and Spurs. Drew Liverpool. Beat Man City. Played 5, Won 1, Lost 3, Drawn 1. Total: 4 points
  • Tottenham: Lost against Man United. Drew Man City and Chelsea. Beat Arsenal and Liverpool. Played 5, Won 2, Lost 1, Drawn 2. Total: 8 points

Interestingly, Arsenal have lost 10 and drawn one of their last 11 games against Man Utd and Chelsea in all competitions, scoring only five goals.

Of course, if you look at the Premier League table, it’s Arsenal sitting five points above Tottenham, not the other way around. But Tottenham will take away a lot of confidence in the near-win against Chelsea, while Arsenal will need to recompose themselves after a demoralizing defeat.

In a match where Arsenal had a perfect chance to make a statement in the Premier League against a Manchester United side that is not firing on all cylinders, Arsenal yet again was unable to raise their game to the next level. It’s a familiar story from Arsene Wenger’s men and it’ll come as a crushing blow after a season which has thus far generated bright sparks of hope.

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  1. Football Souvenirs

    December 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    It is craxy that arsenal get no nearer to addressing basic errors in the squad in key positions. A new goalkeeper, a towering centre half and a dominant ball winner have been required for a few seasons now

  2. Rod

    December 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I’ve got Arsenal figured out. They reflect the manager’s personality—no steel, no backbone, no on-field leader. We have plenty of talent but that’s not enough against teams who have talent and toughness. We can lose to a lesser team on a given day if we aren’t up for it but usually have enough to win those games. Even Song, who is a big help defensively, isn’t really a dominating player. I could go on but I’m sure get the idea.

  3. ozzie

    December 14, 2010 at 3:18 am

    yes it sucks arsenal lose but its amazing at when a team loses and all the talk is negative,they are still right there for the title,sh*t happens,if arsenal won then the talk would be man u is done for the season,im so sick of the way people talk about the epl,just funny

    in 2 weeks the talk will be how chelsea is the best when they start winning again,blow me

    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2010 at 5:33 am

      Ozzie, I hope Arsenal move on from here and get better. But they looked woeful Monday.

      The Gaffer

  4. NP

    December 14, 2010 at 2:15 am

    “Arsenal will need to recompose themselves after a demoralizing defeat”

    Arsenal are used to losing against Man U and Chelsea (the only teams above them the past few years) so I don’t think it will be hard getting over it. There just isn’t a winning mentality within the arsenal team when they play against the big teams. It is very frustrating to watch because you feel they are close to becoming a great team but Wenger is too proud to fix the issues within the team because of his ego. He wants to win something first so he can claim his youth project worked.
    The arsenal squad are pampered when they really need to be bought down to earth. Not having ex-players around the first team as coaches (Keown has there the year arsenal reached the champs league final then left/got fired) and Wenger’s old policy of offering 1 yr deals to players over 30 that resulted in experienced players leaving has caused this arsenal team to lack leadership and winning mentality. These young players have come through together but who showed them the ropes or taught them how its done?

    Wenger claims this squad is his strongest but the squad from 2002-2004 was possibly the best I’ve seen. Power, pace, and attacking football.

  5. brn442

    December 14, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Arsenal were disappointing but Spurs in disguise?

    If they were up by 3 before the half and found a way to lose – then perhaps.

  6. MennoDaddy

    December 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    It’s a great time to be a Spurs supporter, that’s for sure. After getting constantly overlooked, it’s nice to feel the love.


  7. DGS

    December 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Not the most entertaining match, but I smile every time Rooney struggles to accomplish a relatively simple task.

  8. David G

    December 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Classic Arsenal today. I love when the search for the perfect goal with nobody in the box.

    A lot of love coming Spurs way via EPL Talk. First the podcast talking about Spurs as good as anyone in Europe outside for Real and Barca and now this. Good times!

  9. dominjon

    December 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Also is Park the Rodney Dangerfield of the EPL? Does a very consistent job, but seems to get no respect.

    • The Gaffer

      December 13, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Dominjon, LOL. That’s so classic but so true.

      The Gaffer

    • Devils Advocate

      December 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      All teams have their “journeymen,” the workhorses who are essential to the smooth running of the team and who craft out opportunities without the glitz and glamour of some of the forwards. Park is such a player, favouring hard work but perhaps receiving less than his rightful share of the plaudits. Consistency and honesty is part of his football DNA. Nicky Butt was another such example.

  10. dominjon

    December 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    A home team playing Carrick and Fletcher was hardly going for the kill. Both Wenger and Ferguson would have taken a point before the match. Both teams were set up to not concede, only Utd are more suited to it, and did it better.

  11. Andrei

    December 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    “In the matches that make a statement of intent, here are the North London club’s results so far this season…”

    Wining EPL has little to do with making statements of intent. It is about winning points consistently. Based on the league table Arsenal have been more successful in doing this so far. Bottom line: Spurs sit in the fifth place and I can easily see them fail to qualify for CL spot. In this case all they will have left is “a lot of confidence in the near-win against Chelsea” or other statement of intent caliber games.

    And depending on your point of view that “near-win against Chelsea” may well turn into “near-loss”. In my book Chelsea blew their chance to send Spurs home empty handed.

    But I agree with at least one point – until Arsenal replace AW with somebody who can transform them from one trick show into tactically sound team Arsenal will fail to win any meaningful silverware.

    • The Gaffer

      December 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      In fairness to Wenger, he at least tried to do something different this match which was to play a lot more defensively than what they do against other teams. Against Barcelona in the Champions League last season, they played their usual positive attacking game and but there’s no way they could beat Barcelona that way. Against United, Wenger had his players play more reserved than usual as if they were trying to get a nil-nil draw or grab a late winner. But by the mid point of the first half, you could see that the strategy wasn’t working. Arsenal, in this case, would have been better off playing their full-out attack. Nani was having an off day and Arsenal did a good job of limiting Rooney’s attacks.

      The Gaffer

      • Andrei

        December 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm

        Yes I noticed more defensive minded approach but this tactic was bound to fail. This Arsenal team does not possess the tools to play for a nil-nil draw against United. They tried and were lucky to lose just 0-1. Wenger didn’t develop the right players to create this tactical stalemate. So anyway it would have ended either 1-3 in more attacking approach or 0-1 drab loss like we saw today. United have role players like Park or Fletcher who are ideal for this situation. Arsenal have nobody of the kind.

  12. quincy

    December 13, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    This is non sense. Where is all this Thfc love coming from?

    • Phenoum

      December 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      the Gaffer’s clearly a sensationalist.

      Arsenal doesnt shoot enough
      Arsenal shoots too much

      Park got lucky with a deflection that had a ton of spin on it. Yes the Arsenal Performance wasn’t great, but neither was Man Utd’s

      It’s all ok though – us responding to his post give them ad revenue… And that’s all they want

      • MNUfan1991

        December 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

        “Park got lucky with a deflection that had a ton of spin on it. Yes the Arsenal Performance wasn’t great, but neither was Man Utd’s”

        You create your own luck.
        Arsenal created nothing and deserved nothing. All is well in the end.

    • Phenoum

      December 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      PS – Fletcher should have had at LEAST a yellow for his push on the Ref. I understand letting the game flow – but that’s inexcusable, petulant, and makes me want to fly to Manchester and punch Fletcher in the face. He was a petulant little phag-boy today

      • Nick

        December 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

        and Fletcher should’ve had a free kick for a blatant trip.

        • Phenoum

          December 14, 2010 at 12:08 am

          You want to talk about free kicks? How about Ferdinand going studs up into Sagna’s stomach? Red card if i’ve ever seen one – absolute bullsh!t

      • VillaPark

        December 14, 2010 at 12:57 am

        What I don’t understand is how Fletcher doesn’t get carded for running at Webb and complaining, yet Nasri got one after the penalty call on Clichy even though he barely got a word in.

        And apparently, you can kick people karate-style with Howard Webb officiating and you will barely be punished or not punished at all.

        • Phenoum

          December 14, 2010 at 1:08 am


  13. spurs guvnor

    December 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Dont forget tottenham have been unbeleivably unlucly with injuries. Arsenal have been very lucky soo far this season as have man utd. Tottenham will win the premiership and champions league.

    • no

      December 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm


    • Joe

      December 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      Arsenal have played most of the season without Van Persie, Fabregas, or Walcott. Manchester United was without Rooney and still doesn’t have him back to his old self. Scholes also was out for a bit.

      Tottenham have had some bad luck with injuries, but they’re hardly alone in that regard. Now if that Bale injury on Sunday had been serious, then I’d have to agree with you…

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