Tottenham Hotspur (5) – (1) Arsenal
(Tottenham win 6-2 on aggregate)
White Hart Lane, London
Well what can you say about that game?
Spurs were always going to be up for this, especially when you consider they haven’t defeated us in 23,421 games*
They fielded their stongest side, and it was going to be an even bigger ask for the kids with captain Ledley King back as well.
It’s a strange feeling getting battered and conceding five, even more so when it’s usually us handing out the drubbings – but if you look at the goals then you would have to say Arsenal shot themselves in the foot.
The first goal after only 3 minutes was disappointing because Jenas was under no pressure while he ran towards goal and took his shot. Justin Hoyte was a bit slow to react to the situation and let the Tottenham midfielder have a free pop at goal.
Then the second was an own goal by Nicklas Bendtner.
Credit to Jenas it was a decent delivery, but Nic was caught cold and his header could have gone anywhere. Then the third goal we conceded was straight after half time, this time scored by Robbie Keane. Fabianski really should have done better with the shot, which was pretty much straight at him and wasn’t travelling with much pace.
While Arsene said after the match that the third goal pretty much signalled the end of the game as a contest, I personally thought Arsenal could still get back into this with an instant reply.
And only minutes later Walcott crossed for Bendtner whose effort hit the underside of the bar.
This was not Arsenal’s day!
With the 50th minute approaching, I thought to myself Arsenal could still get 3 goals here if they quickly brought on Eduardo and Adebayor for Diaby and Walcott. But unfortunately that change didn’t happen until 15 minutes later.
You might say this is the competition for the kids, but with Gallas, Sagna, Hleb and Fabregas already on the pitch, it might have been worth going for it anyway. And with 40 minutes Eduardo and Adebayor could make a big difference.
Of course, if any of them got injured during that time then I suppose the gamble wouldn’t have been worth it.
But the thing was Hleb was getting the ball in excellent positions and moving the ball around well in the middle with Fabregas, but they had no attacking outlet for their possession. Bringing on Eduardo and Adebayor earlier could have changed the outcome of the game.
And Diaby and Walcott weren’t performing anyway, and always on the periphery of the match. Theo just couldn’t control the ball and wasn’t given much space, and Diaby was losing the ball and often going for the difficult dribble instead of the simple pass. I can’t remember the number of times I saw him take 4 or 5 touches when 2 would have done!
When Adebayor did come on, Arsenal had a bit more cutting edge and it only took him 5 minutes to score. Unfortunately we were 4-0 down at the time, but if he was on 15 minutes earlier could it have been a different story?
C’est la vie…
Arsene said after the game that the Carling Cup wasn’t a priority at all and Arsenal were in the fight for much bigger things. We’ve known that all along and looking at the bigger picture we didn’t lose in a cup which really mattered. Of course, that sounds bitter coming after a 5-1 defeat but it doesn’t make it any less true. Would it have been nice to be in the final? Yes, but it’s hardly vital to the outcome of our season is it?
You would have to say though that winning the Carling Cup would have been a huge ask if we made it to the final anyway. Chelsea will play their strongest team in this competition and our kids would have found it extremely tough to get passed them. So it’s comforting to know that Spurs have no chance of winning the competition anyway.
I would and will be putting a lot of money on that.
* Estimated number only.