|DATE||Saturday 17th November 2012|
Unusually for the most recent past, Spurs arrive at the Emirates as the team highest in the table. Only by one point, but ahead at the ten game stage of the season and if they are one point above Arsenal at the end of the season, I am sure few will complain in the white and navy blue of N17.
Spurs have been doing alright without setting the Premier League alight. Arsenal have made their worst start to a season for nearly 30 years. So where does that leave the North London derby ?
Nowhere different to all those that precede this one. Form counts for little and the passion of the derby sometimes negates any difference in league placing. Some derbies of late have lacked a little in that passion, but there have been some exciting games, which mainly have gone Tottenham's way in the last couple of years.
But Tottenham enter this match without Mousa Dembele once again and his loss has been acutely felt in the side's play. IN addition, the England trip of Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe all have hamstring pulls, which might yet rule them out of the game, adding to the missing Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Arsenal have goalkeeper Szczesny returning in place of the highly suspect Vito Mannone, with Jack Wilshire available again after being sent off in his return to first team action. What chance a repeat of that on Saturday ? Wilshire is getting a lot of hype about him being like Wayne Rooney when he was young, which is an apt analogy, as he has a similar temper and in later life will need a hair transplant.
The home team's current strength is their attack, with the defence - a part of the team they were previously noted for - looking shaky under the coaching of Steve Bould. You can bet that they will put in an extra 10% against Tottenham, but the injuries that have hit the team could prevent them seriously testing the Arsenal back line.
The Spurs defence is not that impenetrable itself and will be given a tough time by new signings Podolski and Giroud, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott willing to run at the wide men and Santi Cazorla prompting from midfield. Wiltshire will be in there along with the Spaniard, leaving Tottenham probably likely to pit Jake Livermore and Sandro against the men behind Arsenal's front line.
It will be a tough task to try and keep the Gooners forwards quiet, but I expect Brad Friedel to return to the gloves in the league, hopefully providing a steadying influence on the defence and keeping his own performance up to a high standard.
The key will be to stop the supply to the wide men and the forwards, so this will require a lot of hard work by the midfielders and the front man too. I think that AVB might bring back Defoe for this game, as his nippy running could cause the tall Arsenal defence problems and Spurs will need to get the ball wide quickly to try and exploit the full backs, who could be Sagna and Jenkinson.
Whatever the line-ups, there will be a bubbling atmosphere inside the ground, something it doesn't always witness. The outcome could be equally disappointing for each team with my prediction being equity at the end.
|PREDICTION||Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
Wojciech Szczeny is back between the sticks for Arsenal and returning from injury last week, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might feature at some stage. Midfielder Jack Wilshire is available after suspension.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tottenham will still be without Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), Mousa Dembele (hip) and Younes Kaboul (knee). There are also doubts over the likely participation of Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe, who are all suffering with pulled hamstrings.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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Arsenal 5 (3)
Saturday 17th November 2012
Venue : Emirates Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur 2 (1)
Kick off 12:45
Podolski (foul on Vertonghen) 80
Lennon (foul on Vermaelen) 45
Sandro (persistent fouling) 66
|Crowd : 60,011||Weather : -|
|Referee : Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. M. Mullarkey; Mr. D. Cann|
|Fourth Official : Chris Foy (St. Helens)||-|
|- kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Arsenal :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
14 Theo WALCOTT
12 Olivier GIROUD
(15 Alex OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN
Kyle WALKER (20
Michael DAWSON 46)
|Manager : Arsene Wenger||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : Fly Emirates||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
This was a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good was Tottenham's opening 15 minutes, the bad - Emmanuel Adebayor's tackle on Cazorla that got him sent off and the Ugly Gooners, who still couldn't win with grace, having to time waste in the last ten minutes against ten men.
Inside the first twelve minutes, William Gallas had a goal disallowed for offside, when a deflected shot fell to him in the box; Defoe latched onto a ball over the top from Jan Vertonghen, leaving Mertesacker for dead to shot early across Szczesny, who could only parry the ball in front of goal and Adebayor followed up to shoot in from a couple of yards out. There was still time for Bale to make a long run in from the left wing to play Aaron Lennon in on Vermaelen and he shot from the right side of the box, through the Belgian's legs and narrowly wide of the far post with Szczesny beaten.
It was a pacy start form Tottenham, with the tenacity of chasing players down to force them into turning over possession how I personally like to see us play. However, that desire to win the ball spilled over in the 17th minute, when Adebayor stretched for a tackle and caught Cazorla on the foot with his studs off the floor. There was little other outcome than a red card and while the ever helpful Jack Wilshire was getting involved to make sure that happened, Howard Webb didn't need any help from a player who know plenty about red cards.
So, the best part of 70 minutes to defend a goal lead. It is hard enough when we try and do it for less time than that with a full complement. So, it was not that surprising when it only took six minutes to find the scores at 1-1. Walcott got past Naughton too easily on the Arsenal right, putting a cross into the penalty spot area and Mertesacker had stayed up after the original corner had been cleared and dropped off Huddlestone to get a free header, which he deposited past Lloris' left hand as he dived to try and keep it out.
Having started with a two man attack and it seemingly working, it was ironic that AVB had to settle for one man up front, which meant that more often than not, the ball came straight back at the Spurs defence. Twice Lloris saved well from a Giroud header, diving left to palm the bal up and over the bar, then saving again from his fellow Frenchman, who got between Gallas and Vertonghen at a corner to power a header into the centre of the goal, only finding Hugo taking the ball low down on the line.
The second Arsenal goal three minutes before half time was a blow, as Spurs sought to keep things tight and it bore similarities to last week's first Manchester City goal. A passing move through the middle of the Spurs midfield reached the edge of the box, where it looked like it might have broken down, but as Huddlestone got a foot out to intercept it, the ball ran kindly for Wilshire and his poor touch took it to Lucas Podolski, who also had a slice of luck, when the ball came off Gallas and back off him to creep past the Spurs keeper and right into the corner of the net.
It seemed to knock the stuffing out of Tottenham a bit and with the game entering added time at the end of the first half, Cazorla went on a run from a central position to the left side of the box and turned a low cross back into the goalmouth, where Giroud turned smartly on the ball, shooting it past Lloris at the near post from six yards out. 1-3 at half-time made it look like an almost impossible task in the second half.
At the start of the second half, AVB brought no Clint Dempsey and Michael Dawson, with Kyle walker and Kyle Naughton removed, to allow Spurs to line up with three at the back and two up front. A brave move, but then at 1-3, there was little more to be lost. And it seemed like Spurs would make a bit of a go of the second half. In the first five minutes of the second period, we had two corners and a free-kick, but unfortunately, Spurs could make nothing of the set-pieces. This gave Arsenal the chance to play route one football, with a big kick out by their keeper, a header on and Giroud getting away on the left. His low ball across the box caught Spurs a man short and Cazorla swept the ball into the net form ten yards out.
But Tottenham hadn't given up. Bale was making run after run into the heart of the Arsenal back four, where he usually was outnumbered. And with 20 minutes left, Sandro's pass to the Welshman saw him run at Mertesacker and shoot between his legs right-footed from 22 yards out, to beat Szczesny with ease. Cue Arsenal starting to waste time, as their fans suddenly found their library cards and their nerves to produce the wall of silence that the Emirate is noted for.
Spurs might even have got a goal closer when Bale went down the left and fired the ball low across the goal, missing the far post. Whether it was a shot or a driven cross for Defoe but too far ahead of him I don't know, but Jermain showed his frustration at not having the ball pulled back into his path buy kicking the post and glaring at Bale. Perhaps he is not the best person to criticise others for not using the better option in situations like that as early in the second half, he sold three Spurs players up the field by taking a ridiculous effort which hit the man right in front of him and was not going to get anywhere near the goal from 25 yards out.
As it turned out, we suffered the same score-line as last March when substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain got round the back on the Arsenal right and pulled a low ball back to Walcott, who slid the ball home past Lloris after side-stepping a challenge. The possession had been given away as sub Tom Carroll and Vertonghen were playing passes between each other in a tight space and gave the ball away ... again like last week, which lead to City's second goal.
So, a big defeat, but once more a result of playing at Arsenal with less than the full eleven. But the lessons of last week had not been heeded, leaving the mistakes which cost goals then reappearing again to cost Spurs any chance of getting anything form the game.
The sending off not only left Tottenham a man light up front, but gave Cazorla space to make his little runs and play short passes into the front three. Spurs had trouble from the moment Adebayor walked off on the right hand side, where bale did not provide enough support for Naughton, who often faced Sagna and Walcott, but Spurs did not do enough to stop the crosses coming into the box and as we have found out before, it is not good when we let the chances keep coming for the opposition.
With Adebayor missing next week and thus only Defoe available, we will probably see a return to the one man up front, but apart from cutting out the rash challenges, we need to cut out the sloppy work that exposes our defence to more pressure. We certainly shouldn't have been doing that with ten men, so with eleven, we should be able to avoid it. Admittedly, a lot of effort was expended chasing the ball, meaning that it was more difficult to make the ball do the work.
We need some fresh legs to return from injury and for those who have been playing to step up their game to ensure we now go on a run that keeps us moving in the right direction.
Having matched last year's performance there last season, I hope that the reaction to the result is different from that which afflicted the team back in March.
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|What you thought|
2012-13 season so far..
Out of the Carling, out of the Premiership top four, on our way out of Europe and humiliated by Arsenal.
Hopefully AVB will be out by Christmas, if not sooner.
Dear Mr Levy wake up and smell the roses, please get us a manager and a decent goalkeeper.
AVB is inept and would not know a good tactic if he tripped over one, Lloris will be a bigger liability than Gomes, he will lose us matches, let him go now before it happens.
Sorry but supported Spurs since 1960 - we are heading for disaster, AVB will only take us down.
Not having been (quite) as long suffering as you as a Spurs fan, I am struggling to get to the background of your argument and what getting rid of AVB and Lloris would actually achieve.
I am sure that the manager did not issue instructions to Adebayor to get sent off in the 17th minute and having bowed to public pressure (if not pressure within the club) in playing two up front, his tactics were then thrown out of the window when he had to revert to one up front and play with a man short.
Lloris made two very good saves before half time and could not really be faulted for the goals that came about as he was exposed by the lack of ten outfield players in front of him. You might say he shouldn't have been beaten at his near post for the third, but that would be harsh, as Giroud took it early and Hugo didn't have a chance to set himself for the shot.
Is it the lack of tactics employed by AVB that got us our first win at Old Trafford in living memory or in achieving the same result at the Emirates as last season with only ten men for the majority of the game and having only been 1-0 ahead ? I remember some mild rumblings about Harry's tactics back then, but nothing like Villas-Boas is getting because of the reputation the Press and the Chelsea have given him.
But, if your opinion does come true or Mr. Levy heeds your plea, then, just who do you replace him with and how much would it cost to pay him off, just a few months into a long deal ? Do you really think that Pep Guardiola would be beating a path to White Hart Lane ? Do we beg Harry to come back ? Mind you, Peter Reid is available for work ? I don't think any of these options are likely and while it would be better to bring in someone who isn't working at the moment, there are few suitable candidates about and so poaching a manager will cost us again ... when we are supposed to be saving up for Christmas ... sorry, our new ground.
I do not know why AVB is being given such a hard time. It is not his fault we didn't sign Moutinho in the summer and another forward might have been nice. The dealings from transfers in the summer left us in profit, so I guess that there may be some purchases then ... if AVB is still here, he might benefit from a boost to the squad.
But then, the return of Parker, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto and Dembele will be like new signings. Hopefully they will be back soon, so we can start playing the way we did after things had sunk in with the squad.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester City||5||Aston Villa||0||Saturday|
|Newcastle United||1||Swansea City||2||Saturday|
|Norwich City||1||Manchester United||0||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||1||Southampton||3||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||2||Chelsea||1||Saturday|
|West Ham United||1||Stoke City||1||Monday|
|4||West Bromwich Albion||12||7||2||3||19||13||23||+6|
|7||West Ham United||12||5||4||3||15||12||19||+3|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||12||0||4||8||9||23||4||-14|
Position before match :
Position after match : 8th
Position after the weekend : 8th
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