With the margin between victory and failure being quite thin, a couple
of decisions that went against Spurs and for Arsenal (surprise,
surprise) saw the game swing towards the home side and never swing back.
With an offside flag that deprived Berbatov
of the chance to go through to shoot on goal, a dodgy penalty when
Chimbonda got a touch to the ball first before Rosicky flopped over his
leg, saw Graham Poll conned to send Spurs in at the break 0-2 down.
There was no coming back from that.
There was much said about all the games
at the Emirates finishing wither 3-0 or 1-1 and it was hoped that Spurs
might be the ones to break that as they were coming into a bit of form,
with Arsenal in the dumps after two away defeats. However, it
looked like the home side were the ones more up for it and Tottenham
suffered more away misery, even though this was virtually a home game.
Spurs looked sharp to start off with, but
the opposition started to gain ground with some snappy passing, while
our movement of the ball through midfield looked sluggish in comparison.
The whole issue of not winning away is the lack of tempo that seems to
inflict itself on our game once we leave the Lane.
Tottenham's first decent chance came
after ten minutes, when Berbatov linked up with Malbranque down the left
and put the Frenchman in on the left of the box, but his shot failed to
have much conviction and it went wide, when he should really have worked
Keano had been preferred to Defoe and set
up Tainio, but his shot was sliced wide. When Spurs did get a
decent passing move together, the ball that set Berbatov in on goal had
him pulled up by the linesman's flag, when he was clearly onside. Then, with 20 minutes
gone, Dimitar was robbed of the ball by Toure and a ball through the
middle of the Spurs defence found Adebayour, who was close to being
offside, who went on to beat Robinson with the Tottenham defenders
trailing in his wake.
The goal gave Arsenal confidence to
attack Spurs, but failed to trouble Robinson. although their attacks
prevented Tottenham getting forward. Benoit Assou-Ekotto was
throwing himself into the passion of the derby match and throwing
himself into tackles, as Arsenal concentrated their moves down his
flank. He got booked for his second heavy tackle on Ljungberg and
was lucky to have waited that long.
A van Persie free-kick flashed across the
face of goal and Robbo had to save when Adebayour hit a shot straight at
him from just inside the area. One disappointing part of the game
and perhaps one that showed Arsenal's desperation to win, was the number
of times their players fell to ground in the box. Luckily, Poll
was wise to most of the efforts they made to win penalties, but he still
gave two. The first came three minutes before the break, when
Chimbonda got a touch on the ball, but Rosicky fell over the full-back's
leg to get the award. Robbo went the right way but couldn't stop
Spurs going 2-0 behind and that was practically that.
Tottenham had failed to match the energy
of the Arsenal side and there was a hint that a second goal would come,
but not in those circumstances.
Jenas and Lee came on at the break for
Assou-Ekotto and Malbranque, with Tainio moving to the right of
midfield, with Lennon swapping wigs to the left. Having seen
little of the ball in the first half, he was not in the best position to
change that in the second.
Spurs had a chance on the hour, when
Jenas struck a 30 yard effort that Lehmann could only parry out and as
Lennon ran in, he perhaps got to the ball too quickly and taking it with
his better foot rather than his left, he might have lost the split
second that could have seen him score, as he was dispossessed.
Tottenham seemed to be looking a little more comfortable, with a
measured ball through to Keane, seeing him crudely pulled back by
Gilberto, who took the booking to stop anyone getting towards their goal.
Two minutes later the Brazilian was a hero.
Van Persie was sandwiched between King
and Jenas as he ran towards the box and knocking the ball on with his
hand, he got into the area, where Jenas' challenge took him down.
Needless to say that Gilberto knocked in the second spot-kick of the
game to give Arsenal the 3-0 win, which was not a greater score-line
because Robinson stopped efforts from Clichy and Eboue, while Spurs
never got near equalising.
There is no point agonising over
refereeing decisions or we would never have got over the Mendes goal at
Old Trafford, but the way Spurs approach away games is a cause for
concern. We still appear to go out thinking we are going to get
beat and then set about proving it. I don't mind us losing as long
as we have a bit of a go. Maybe, just maybe, this might kick in,
with the Christmas period coming up and the domestic cups reaching a
stage where the games come thick and faster than normal, we can't afford
to let useful points slip away.
Sort it out Martin, as we don't want to
be going through a whole season without a win away from WHL.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING