There certainly aren’t many feelings I can describe worse than the one that envelops me at present. Dejection, temper tantrums and a generally unpleasant demeanour are all side effects of having witnessed Arsenal not only lose the North London derby, but do so without really putting up a fight.
The Manchester City result was a tremendous example of how to approach difficult away games; remain tight and compact when soaking up pressure, but, most importantly of all, do something productive with the ball when we have it. Don’t idly attempt to pass out of defence and gift possession and initiative back to the opponents.
Yesterday was pretty much the antithesis of that performance. For every bit as good as Arsenal were at The Ethiad, we performed equally as badly yesterday at White Hart Lane. That’s the thing I find most difficult to swallow; having seen us display the correct way so proficiently only to regress to being bloody awful again when the pressure is on.
When Mesut Ozil opened the scoring early on with a clever finish following excellent work from Danny Welbeck, I hoped we’d see out the game professionally and maybe nick another to make things comfortable. Instead, we sat back, left space in dangerous ares (notably the right side) and waited for the waves of Spurs pressure to eventually reap reward for them.
Harry Kane is not a player I rate at all. Perhaps I’m a touch bias because of who he plays for, but I’m yet to see anything other than an distinctly average footballer enjoying a purple patch. Some have hyped him as the next great thing in English football; a Messiah-type character sent from an ethereal plain to lift our national team from its doldrums. Personally, I don’t see it at all, and despite an undoubtedly good performance yesterday, I still don’t.
We contrived to defend poorly and gifted him his first goal thanks to some comical attempts to clear the ball, most notably from David Ospina, who looked a touch on the flappy side yesterday. The second admittedly was a very good header, but the cross wasn’t closed down quickly enough for my liking.
Truthfully, the 2 second half goals were no less than Spurs deserved. It pains me to say so, but they were the better team on the day by a considerable margin and rightfully took the 3 points – a win that sees them leapfrog us in the league table. With 14 games remaining in the Premiership, I’d still be quietly confident of finishing above Spurs and in the top4. However, yesterday’s defeat does represent a setback.
Arsene’s views on the match were:
“The only regret I can have today is that we gave two cheap goals away, but Tottenham deserved to win this game.
“I’m disappointed with our offensive performance today because we didn’t produce enough and I think technically we were short in many aspects of our game.
“I feel we gave away balls in some areas that despite the pressing we should not lose, and some players were well below par today on that front.”
He went on to mention the performance of referee Martin Atkinson:
“I felt he was a little bit like us – not at his best,”
Difficult to disagree with that. Many Arsenal fans have chastised the officiating of Atkinson as a means of excusing a poor performance. The referee was undeniably sh*t-awful, often brandishing yellow cards for no apparent reason whilst persistent fouls went unpunished. I think both sets of supporters would agree he was appalling. Of course, that isn’t a valid excuse. He didn’t do anything to impact our performance, we did. As a team we under-performed and the blame lays entirely at our door, not Martin Atkinson’s.
At this stage, it’s far from catastrophic. Our January form was superb. Hopefully one defeat won’t be the catalyst for further struggles. Tuesday brings a fixture against Leicester City in which we can make amends and get ourselves back on track.
Putting this result behind us is the only thing to do. Spurs take the spoils, the bragging rights and they do deservedly so. What’s done is done. Move onwards.
That’s all for today, folks. The comments await you below. Let me know your thoughts on the game and the impact you think it might have on the remainder of the season. I’ll look forward to reading some.
I shall return with more tomorrow. Until that time, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
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