Arsenal (1) – (0) Tottenham Hotspur
The Emirates Stadium, London
Barclays Premier League
Although there weren’t a lot of goals, it was certainly a tense game.
The previous two seasons have seen a 5-2 scoreline but this game was just as engrossing. Tottenham Hotspur, who have spent around £110 million and were full of new, exciting signings were up against Arsenal, who had only signed Sanogo and Flamini on free transfers.
But as we’ve seen in recent games, Arsenal are still a force to be reckoned with. As the scoreline suggests, this was a much closer contest than in recent seasons, and for the first 15 minutes Tottenham were the better side. They controlled the ball well, popped it around nicely and had most of the attacking possession – although in fairness it didn’t trouble us greatly.
Over the 90 minutes, we had the better of the chances and if it wasn’t for Lloris who was in fantastic form, we would have should have scored more goals. Szczesny wasn’t called upon that many times but needed to make two extremely important saves and he did so.
Defensively we were sound and it was only in the final 10 minutes when it got a bit tense. They had a lot of the ball (57% of possession in the end) but didn’t do a huge amount with it. For all their new signings and money spent, Tottenham have yet to score from open play in 3 Premier League games. In the words of AVB, maybe Tottenham are in a “negative spiral” in terms of goals.
The goal when it came was in a vital time in the match. Tottenham were bossing possession but we carved out a great chance on 23 minutes. Rosicky, the king of the pre-assist, fed in Theo who picked out Giroud at the near post. The big striker did extremely well to get ahead of the defender and coolly slotted in at the near post – it was a well taken goal and in the end proved decisive.
The game was a end to end for the most part and Arsenal were unlucky not to add to Giroud’s goal. Theo could have done better when played in by Cazorla but was denied by an onrushing Lloris, and Theo had a chance well-saved with 15 minutes to go.
The other main talking point was the introduction of Mathieu Flamini on 42 minutes when Jack Wilshere came off with stomach cramps. He did well in fairness, organising the team and defending well – and was extremely unlucky when he got booked for winning the ball.
The positive thing was how we played as a team. We attacked well, although lacked a bit of cutting edge, and defended as a team as well. Giroud made a fantastic block on the line from Soldado to deny Tottenham an equaliser. Giroud was deservedly Man of the Match, holding the ball up well and bringing others into play.
The back five were excellent, with Per Mertesacker outstanding at the back. Koscielny was always first to the ball and made some important interceptions, Gibbs and Jenkinson were solid and the midfield again, moved the ball around well and made some goalscoring opportunities.
Cazorla wasn’t as influential as he can be but did well, Rosicky was energetic and made things happen. Ramsey wasn’t as influential as he has been in recent games but never gave up. Theo again showed how much of an impact player he is as he popped up in decent positions to hurt Tottenham and delivered a brilliant cross for Giroud’s goal.
In the end, Arsenal deservedly won in the North London Derby playing the Arsenal way. Tottenham, for all the money spent and new signings weren’t convincing. However, it would be naive to think that they won’t be right up there by the end of the season and once their new players do have time to settle in they will be a force in the league.
Our first eleven is very good but with 24 hours of the transfer window to go, it would be suicidal if Arsene Wenger didn’t strengthen and add numbers to the squad. Giroud is bang in form at the money but an injury to him would be catastrophic. Wilshere has shown he will struggle to play an entire season and while Rosicky is playing well, he is prone to picking up a knock. Defensively we are still “a little bit short” and we need at least one defender as cover.
Overall, a good performance and excellent result, but it still covers over the cracks somewhat. But let’s enjoy the result this week and we can evaluate the state of the squad at 11pm tomorrow evening.