Archive for April 22nd, 2007

Spurs 2 – 2 Arsenal: Same Scoreline, Same Class Gap

398 comments April 22nd, 2007

If you want to know why Arsenal didn’t win this game, you need only know that no side in the entire Premiership has kept less clean sheets this season. Not Watford, not West Ham, not even Spurs. We might not have conceded the most goals, but when you face Arsenal, you can be certain they’ll give you something.

Spurs found that out as early as the 30th minute – Michael Dawson rose above William Gallas to head in the direction of Robbie Keane, who escaped Gael Clichy to turn it in. To be honest, the problems had begun before the corner was even taken – some of Jens’ traditional antics managed to get he and Diaby both booked for next to nothing, as well as disrupting our concentration.

Spurs had started well, and were probably decent value for their lead. A wrongly disallowed goal from Emmanuel Adebayor aside, we had seemed to lack penetration – Freddie Ljungberg had appeared to be carrying an injury from the get-go, and was eventually replaced by Cesc after 40 minutes.

However, the second half saw Arsenal come right back into the game. When we play Tottenham at White Hart Lane, they tend to put all their running into the first twenty minutes, before sitting back and trying to defend an often assailable lead. And so it proved in this game. Cesc’s introduction gave us much more fluency on the attack, although Alex Hleb was still doing his best to slow down our attacking play.

With an hour gone, we were back on level terms – a whipped Cesc free-kick was turned in by Kolo Toure at the far post. We were beginning to boss the game, and the Spurs fans were audibly showing their disapproval. Julio Baptista replaced the ineffective Tomas Rosicky, as we started to crank up the pressure.

At this point, Abou Diaby moved into his third position of the match – having already operated in central midfield and as a support striker, he shifted out to the left-flank. They say a good footballer can play in any position – well, Diaby is a very good footballer. Although still raw, we are a better team when he plays. It’s up to Arsene to find a way to accommodate him regularly.

When we did take the lead, that fact in itself was no surprise. The scorer, perhaps, was. Since returning from suspension, Emmanuel Adebayor has had no luck whatsoever. This game was no different – a wrongly disallowed goal, a missed sitter, and a header that crashed off the crossbar. However, when Cesc Fabregas swung in a free-kick from the right, he rose highest to head into the near top corner. I alluded to his knack of scoring in big games earlier in the week, and he didn’t let me down. His celebration was a roaring proclamation of his love for the club. Well Ade, I for one love you back.

It had been a dominant, forceful second half display from us – our best league performance since the win over Manchester United at the Emirates. Julio Baptista should’ve made it three after great work from Adebayor, and Spurs’ heads appeared to have dropped.

However, there was to be a 94th minute reprieve – a stunning thirty yard strike from Jermaine Jenas. Spurs promptly celebrated as if they’d won the League Cup. It kind of reminds me of when they got a last minute equaliser against us to draw 2-2, and went crazy, although it meant nothing: we had won the title on their patch. Ah, still hilarious.

The Adebayor chimes sound againThe truth is, they were outclassed. Berbatov aside, their players couldn’t cope with our athleticism and technique. The two points dropped is fairly meaningless – we will get Champions League football. What was meaningful was asserting our dominance over our local rivals. Arsene reckoned we could have had five – I think that’s a bit much, but there was certainly a class gap.

Now there’s one other major fixture left on the horizon. Can you see that blue hulk coming towards us?

Three points from that, and we’ll all have a much better Summer.

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