Without the tube troubles which delayed the start of this match and left
many fans struggling to get to the game at all, Spurs would have been
taking a 1-0 lead back to White Hart Lane for the second leg, as the
game would have been finished instead of Theo Walcott getting a
fortunate ricochet to level the score at 1-1.
Tottenham should have ensured that it was
only a consolation, as they created chances at the Arsenal end and
restricted the home side's shadow squad to few clear cut opportunities,
but wayward finishing and some good keeping by Fabianski kept Spurs at
1-0 and it is always a tenuous lead, especially for us. Even then
there was still a chance to win it when Lennon rolled the ball across
the penalty area into Defoe's path and the little striker could not keep
his shot down and fired over the bar.
Too often in matches against the top four
and in big games, the winning mentality has failed the team and having
established a superiority over the home side on their own territory, the
game should have been wrapped up.
From the first couple of minutes, Ledley
King showed his class, when he stepped in to take the ball on the edge
of our own area, before striding forward with the ball and put Aaron
Lennon in, but his cross did not find a white shirt on the end of it.
The inclusion of Jamie O'Hara was a smart one by Ramos, as he knew that
the midfielder has something to prove back at Highbury and his passing
came in useful, although a second half move wide on the left restricted
With Senderos and Djourou in the centre
of the Arsenal defence, Berbatov had a field day with his movement.
He pulled them around and picked passes off past them when he wanted.
With the quarter of an hour approaching, there was work to do at the
other end, as Hoyte went wide and his cross was headed goal-wards by
Bendtner, although the Spurs goalie Cerny made a good reaction save down
to his left.
When the Gooners did attack, Tottenham
got back in numbers to squeeze them out and broke at speed, bringing the
Arsenal back four into action and Senderos brought down Berbatov in the
23rd minute on the edge of the area. O'Hara took charge and curled
his effort just wide of the far upright. Then on the half hour, a
clearer opportunity came when the ball fell invitingly into Steed
Malbranque's path and with a lot of the goal to aim at, he put his shot
wide from about five yards out and then he headed wide after Robbie
Keane's cross found him at the far post a minute later.
The pressure was growing on the home
side's defence and when Berbatov made a yard about 20 yards out in a
central position, he hit s powerful shot, but Fabianski made a
"continental" save in pushing the ball out, although with 37 minutes
gone, Berba put Keane away on the left side of the area and like
Tottenham's goal by Keane in the last game at the old Highbury, squared
for Jenas to stroke home confidently past the Arsenal keeper.
A break late in the half saw Dimitar try
to chip the ball over Fabianski, but he didn't have the space to get
adequate elevation. The interval came and it was all looking so
good, as the Arsenal side looked decidedly ordinary and Spurs were
taking the initiative all over the field.
Changes had to be made on the Gooner side
and Sagna and Eduardo came on for van Persie and Djourou. Spurs kept the
starting eleven and took the game to Arsenal straight away, with Lennon
winning a corner with a speedy run down the right. As it came in,
Fabianski dropped the ball and luckily for Arsenal (not for the first
time on the night), Walcott was there to kick it away.
Spurs were one touch away from another
goal when Keane just failed to control a long through pass and it ran
through to the Arsenal goalie. with 77 minutes gone, an O'Hara
free-kick was headed clear, but straight up in the air. Chimbonda
won it in the air and it fell in the six yard box, where Ledley King
could not get on the end of it, but it did looked like he might have
been crowded out. A minute later and the score was all clear.
Gilberto passed to Educardo and as Ledley
got caught side on, the ball went behind him to Walcott and as Lee got a
foot on the ball, it hit the winger and deflected past Cerny, who had
come out to meet him.
Another fluky goal from the Gooners and
another lead lost for Spurs, but with Keane going off for Defoe, Ramos
was still going for the win.
O'Hara left Walcott on his backside with
a great piece of skill and Tottenham had to kick the ball out of play so
that the brat could have himself twisted back outside in. The
Spurs midfielder also had a volley blocked by Hoyte and then the big
chance for Defoe came to win it at the death, but once more it was not
The game was well thought out by Ramos
and his decisions could be vindicated, as the side had been dominant and
made the home side look less than special. One piece of good
fortune made Arsenal have a chance in the second leg, when Tottenham
could have booked their place in the final.
But as always, we need to do it all over
again in the second leg. Nobody said it would be easy, but one
piece of luck going in our favour might help.