What seemed like a tough task
on paper was a simple task in the end, with Arsenal's new manager
Unai Emery playing tactics by leaving out Ozil (no great loss), but
picking some younger players, who were plainly not up to the task
and a disjointed Arsenal fell feebly to Tottenham 2-0 at the Rubbish
Tip, leaving Spurs to progress to the semi-final.
Spurs were much changed too,
with Kane only on the bench, because of an "illness" ... there's a
lot of it about ! Skipp reverted to the subs, as Pochettino
shuffled his pack and restored Sonny and Christian to the starting
line-up, but rested Lloris and Vertonghen from the group for the
The first chance went to
Arsenal, who wanted a handball when Winks slid in and the ball hit
his arm, when he had his back to the player on the ball. They got a
corner and Mkhitaryan won the header unmarked at the near post, but
he could only guide it across the face of goal, with no red shirt
close enough to reach it. Ramsey broke onto a ball just inside
the box on our right but shot wide of Gazzanigaís left hand post.
Spurs were winning the ball, but when in possession, the new shape
didnít seem to suit them, as passes were not finding their targets
as they usually did. It took ten minutes to have a shot at goal,
when Lucas and Sissoko linked on the right and the ball was played
rather easily across the pitch just outside the box. It landed at
Christian Eriksenís feet, but he was closed down and fired well
wide. After Spurs had won the ball back, Trippierís cross
picked out Dele and although he won the header under pressure,
he put it way too high.
Arsenal should have gone ahead in the 12th minute, as the defence
was opened up a one-two between Ramsey and Mkhitaryan, who was sent
clear, but his shot was much too close to Paulo and he beat it out
well, when there was plenty of the goal to aim at. In retaliation,
Spurs had possession for about two minutes and while Arsenal did get
their foot in a couple of times, we won it back. It didnít end up
with anything too dangerous for Arsenal, as Eriksenís 25 yard drive
rose above the bar.
Our passing was looking crisper and more accurate and this stage of
the game was like the league game, in which, we needed to make
something of the domination. A corner played back to Eriksen on the
corner of the box was played in low to the near post, where Ben
Davies almost turned on it but didnít connect.
Arsenal looked to attack, but it was nicked away from Iwobi and
Gazzanigaís long clearance was won by Lucas and Dele played the ball
first-time, over Monreal and through on the right where Heung-Min
Son was in on goal. He took it to the edge of the box and as
Cech came out, lifted his shot to the keeperís right and put
Tottenham ahead. It meant a wait for VAR to confirm that Xhaka, who
was facing away from Son, had played him onside. It was a cool
finish and made it worth the period of pressure they had.
Arsenal started to get their strong-arm tactics going, with Xhaka
going straight into Sonís back and then Ramsey kicking Trippier,
after Kieran had taken the ball off him cleanly. Mkhitaryan went
down when he ran into Rose and Arsenal fans wanted a penalty,
despite the fact that it was outside the box Ö and wasnít a foul !
The only worrying moment came when trying to play out from the back,
Gazzaniga put the ball out with no pressure on him and nobody where
he had played the ball. Arsenal had a corner and Gazzaniga got
nowhere near it. When it ran loose to the edge of the box, Lucas
challenged Mkhitaryan and they both went down, with the home crowd
wanting a penalty. It was too much to expect the Goons to appreciate
there was a touch from Moura before Mkhitaryan kicked him. Anyway,
it left Spurs with four on four as they broke away and the ball was
played well between Eriksen and Sissoko, but when Christian squared
it to Moussa, he struck his shot well over the bar when he had time
to finish the move off for a picture book goal with half an hour on
the clock. It was a shame as Moussa had done well in the build-up,
but maybe a ball across to Son, it it could have cut out Torreiro
might have been the better option or if Sissoko had left it, as Dele
was right behind him.
Referee Moss was letting Arsenal players get away with a talking to
when they had committed fouls, so it was going to be interesting to
see if the same was afforded to Spurs players in the same situation.
Tottenham nearly handed Arsenal a goal, when Gazzaniga dawdled over
Roseís back-pass and Aubameyang closed him down, sending the
clearance spinning high into the air above the penalty area. Davies
mis-kicked as the ball came down and Ramsey got there first and
facing away from goal, he tried a fancy back-heel which Tottenham
cleared upfield. Paulo did better a minute later, when Ramsey sent
in a first time shot to the near post, getting a good hand onto the
ball to push it against the post and then getting a little lucky, as
it hit his head but went to a defender who put it safely out of
play. From the corner, Sokratis won the header at the far post, but
it flew wide of the post on the side of the goal where it had come
Arsenal were finishing the half the stronger and Maitland-Niles was
in loads of space on their right looking to find someone with a
cross, but seeing as how hadnít been able to find a team-mate all
night (or the goal, when he sliced a shot that just about made the
corner flag), perhaps Gazzaniga was ready, when his cross nearly
ended up heading under his bar. Our keeper was in the right place to
save it before it became the luckiest goal of the season so far.
Lucas shoed a nice bit of skill to show up Guendouzi, who crudely
chopped him down as he had been hugely embarrassed. A yellow card
was the last action of the half as the teams trooped off to receive
instructions in the dressing room.
Emery swapped Mkhitaryan for Koscielny at the start of the second
half, but it didnít help them stop giving the ball away cheaply.
Twice Spurs could have made more of it, but the second time, Moss
played advantage when there was none. The home side started more
positively, but their best opportunity in the first five minutes was
when a ball was pulled back from the left and it went right through
to the back post, where Maitland-Niles couldnít use his left foot
and by the time he had got it on his right, his low shot ended up as
a cross straight at a Spurs defender.
A foul on Rose by Aubameyang gave Spurs a free-kick, with the
Arsenal back-line held on the 18 yard line. It didnít matter, as
Eriksen struck it at goal and even though it was going wide, Cech
pushed it out for a corner. Then a couple of minutes later, Eriksen
put Son clear on the left and a better ball would have found Lucas
free in the middle, but Cech cut the low cross out. When Sissoko
conceded a free-kick 20 yards out on the left corner of the box,
Xhaka lined it up and he is dangerous from that range, but the only
danger was to those in row M as he fired it into orbit.
A long clearance from Gazzaniga was chested down by Harry Kane, who
had just been introduced by Pochettino. He took a touch, looked up
and played a beautiful pass over Koscielny to Dele, who was in acres
of room and took the ball to Cech before nonchalantly flicked it
with the outside of his foot over the prone keeper to make it 2-0.
For Kane to be so alert after jut entering the play and for Dele to
be so cool in putting the chance away, it shows a growing maturity
among the team.
From the kick off Arsenal muscled up the left and Aubameyang set up
substitute Lacazette with a shot that went through some legs,
including Ramsey, who jumped over it when open in front of goal,
only to see the effort bounce off the foot of the post and out for a
goal-kick. Arsenal were pushing to get back in the game and focus of
that was using Maitland-Niles in their right wing back position.
His delivery lacked threat and Spurs dealt with it most of the time.
Petty foul after petty foul was committed as Spurs tried to gain
control of the ball, with Moss allowing nothing more than free-kicks
as punishment. The Arsenal crowd were tiring of their youngsters and
didnít fail to let them know what they thought of their mistakes.
Losing to us, they couldnít take either, throwing a bottle that hit
Dele in the head and then Sokratis started having a go at him for
getting hit on the head with a bottle. So, when Dele indicated we
were winning 2-0, Moss gave him a talking to !!
Meanwhile, back at the football. Aubameyang screwed across that came
off the bar as Arsenal players screamed for fouls, every time a
tackle came in. As it was Xhaka found his way into the book for a
deliberate handball, followed by a good couple of mouthfuls of abuse
at the lineman.
Erik Lamela came on for Son as Arsenal tried to get a way back into
the game, but white shirts kept getting in the way. With
Maitland-Niles off injured, a ball forward to Kane saw Harry hold
the ball up and square for Eriksen to power a shot at goal. While it
was moving in the air, it was straight At Cech, who had to push it
up and over the bar. When Eriksen looked to released Dele, he was
obviously offside, but ran the ball at goal and dinked it over Cech
that brought Xhaka into the frame, grabbing and pulling at Dele, but
again, Moss never considered booking the Albanian again.
A long ball towards the box by Trippier was missed by Eriksen as it
bounced up, but Dele got in behind him and tried to loft his
header over Cech, but got too much on it. As the red waves swept
over the Arsenal sections with fans swarming out of the ground, the
red mist descended over their players, with Koscielny kicking Kane
and Torreiro and Nketieh giving Danny Rose stick when he tried to
take a throw-in.
As it was Arsenal couldnít get the ball or play it to one of their
players, the game petered out and really, other than the shot that
hit the post after we scored, there was little threat from the home
It was a controlled performance and showed that Poch had taught the
players where they went wrong in the league match there. Getting
involved in a fight was what Arsenal wanted, as they know that is
the only way to try and get us to lose our shape. The goals were
quite similar with balls over the Arsenal defence with nobody
covering our runners from midfield, which is surprising as every
Gunner is a Ö
The side wanted the ball more than the Arsenal players and went
about it without trying to go for the man. Too many Arsenal players
were going out to be overly physical and that made them look
leaden-footed when Spurs played around them. When Spurs had their
chances they took them, while Arsenal looked like they couldnít
finish a light snack. And some of their players were plain shocking.
Xhaka, Sokratis, Monreal, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles and Nketieh;
they were all giving performances that belonged outside the Premier
So, the win put us in the bowl for the semi-finals and thanks to
Peter Crouch, we will have to face Chelsea over two legs. Do-able,
but these sort of games can go either way and we have played Chelsea
a number of times at this stage of the League Cup in the past.
Should be an interesting double header.