There are games you got to where you get no luck. There are games
you go to where you get no decisions going your way. There are
games you see which do not bear analysis. There are games you go
to which are best forgotten. There are games like this.
In the final analysis, Arsenal deserved to
win. they had more possession, Spurs had the more clear cut
chances, but they scored goals out of nothing, while we could not score
the good openings we created. While taking the lead is a very
suspect situation for Spurs these days, it did look as though we might
away with it for a while.
Bale's well placed free-kick around the
wall and to the foot of Almunia's right hand post gave Spurs a lead with
almost their first meaningful attack of the game. Bale fed
Berbatov, who was taken down from behind by Toure and the Welshman
curled the ball accurately into the net on 15 minutes.
Robinson has needed to arch backwards top
palm over an Adebayour viciously dipping shot from 25 yards out and he
also kept the same player out straight after the goal with a smart block
from a quickly taken throw-in. He also dived low to block a Hleb
shot when he had been freed on the left hand side of the area and was
left with only the keeper to beat. While he was culpable for the
equalising goal in the second half, coming for, but not reaching, a
free-kick flung into the box, he did make a couple of vital saves at the
end and was helpless to stop the other two goals.
Arsenal misses two sitters. Diaby
ran onto a pull back from Adebayour and hit it over Robbo, but struck
the bar from eight yards out, while the tall Togo striker himself missed
from a similar distance in the second half, with a shot after Sagna
dragged the ball back to him from the by-line. Keane let a ball
dinked in by Berbatov run, but it went past him rather than him getting
something on it or bringing it down and drawing a challenge.
Bale's presence had been worrying Arsenal
and they had doubled up on him, but Tottenham had not used the resulting
space. In fact, our movement today was poor and the moves we had
sometimes were slowed down, especially by Chimbonda, who looked sluggish
going forward and leaden footed in defence. I am not sure if the
Police questioning about his alleged involvement in the pending fraud
case was weighing heavily on him, but the questions asked of him by the
Arsenal wide men went unanswered. When Gareth went down under a
late challenge from Sagna, he spent the remaining time on the pitch
looking less than 100% and he was eventually replaced by Lennon taking
over the left midfield berth. I guess, at some stage, Jol had
hoped to introduce Aaron on the right and make it difficult for Arsenal
to ignore both flanks. If they had employed two men on each of the
wide midfielders, it would have left Spurs with room to exploit.
However, by the time Bale had exited, the
scores were level. Clattenburg gave one of many cheap free-kicks
against us and when it came in, Robinson came for it, but Adebayour got
in front of him to head home the equaliser. But by then it could
have been 2-2. The scorer had missed his close range effort and
when Malbranque put Berbatov through, he rounded Almunia, who was
outside his area and then tried to be too clever in rounding Toure on
the edge of the box and the ball was taken off him. Arsenal even
tried to con a penalty out of the ref, when Adebayour ran into the area,
but Robbo got there first and knocked the ball away with his hand before
the Togolese forward crashed to the ground.
With Hleb feigning injury to try and
break up a Spurs move and Flamini goading the East Stand fans, it was
hotting up, but the lack of cool finishing cost Tottenham in the end.
Chimbonda's right wing cross fell to the
foot of Tom Huddlestone and his volley whistled a couple of feet the
wrong side of the post for Tottenham's liking, while another saw
Gilberto get something on it to deflect it wide.
The luck that deserted us up front came
back to haunt Spurs in the 78th minute, as Berbatov struck a close range
shot as the ball dropped from a corner, but it struck Clichy on the
chest on the line and Dimitar put the reaction header over the top.
Almost immediately, Arsenal broek away, with Jenas getting back to stop
van Persie's advance, but the second phase of the attack was slackly
defended and like Nani before him for Man United, Fabregas let fly from
35 yards and the ball rocketed into the top corner to give Arsenal the
There was only going to be one winner
from here, as Spurs tired from the effort put in earlier, but they still
made an acceptable chance with five minutes remaining. Jenas split
the Arsenal defence and with Bent racing through, he stumbled as he got
into the penalty area and scuffed his shot wide. It was a sin, as
even if he hadn't scored, he should have worked the keeper. A
minute or so earlier, he had been unlucky in not being a yard further up
the pitch to take Huddlestone's pin-point pass, but his attempted volley
brought about an air shot.
Berbatov slid a header wide of the goal
as the game moved into the four minutes of time for stoppages, but then
another break left Denilson in the clear and Robinson stopped his shot
well with his feet, but again, when the ball fell loose, it was
Adebayour who got there first and flicked the ball up and then hammered
it past the Tottenham keeper from 25 yards out. This was the
player who moments before tried the same thing and hit the underside of
It was not a bad performance from Spurs,
but they left passages of play where Arsenal passed the ball around and
made easy progress towards the Spurs goal. Every time the ball was
cleared by Spurs it came back and every time we got the ball in and
around their area, they were able to play it out of defence too easily.
While Robbie Keane never looked like
scoring today, he put in an outstanding amount of work and Kaboul and
Dawson did well in the middle of defence.
So, Jol's job is back on the line, with
Comolli interestingly sitting in Daniel Levy's seat up in the West Stand
Upper. To accede to the chants of the Arsenal fans that proclaimed
that Jol was going to be "Sacked in the morning" would only deepen the
low opinion of the board that some fans have. But liek Spurs
losing after taking the lead once more, nothing would be surprising.
THE HEATHROW SPUR