COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 1st September 2013
VENUE Highbury






Spurs go into the game at Arsenal on the back of two league wins and two league clean sheets, but in a derby game, nothing can be taken for granted.

With a number of new signings in the Spurs side, there is still an element of settling into take place and with three new players signed on Friday, they are not yet integrated fully into the team, although they have been in training for a couple of days.  Therefore, Arsenal do, as Arsene Winker said, have the advantage of having a side who are more stable ... primarily as a result of not signing any players in the current transfer window.  Having said that the free transfer of Mathieu Flamini from AC Milan is a master-stroke, as he looked rubbish when we played the Italian side in the Champions League in 2011.

However, Spurs have not looked as fluent as in previous seasons in their opening two games and while things may come good in the longer term, at the moment, there is still a "getting to know you" period, which may lead to some issues.  But the team have looked a lot more solid in midfield and with a number of choices there, AVB has made Tottenham look a more difficult side to break down.  The strength and mobility of Paulinho and Capoue (ironically a player Arsenal could have signed) has added a new dimension to the team and with their energy getting forward to support Soldado playing up top alone, there are goals to come from midfield this season.

Arsenal's main reliance on goals this season has been on Giroud and Podolski, but with the German out for ten weeks, the Gooners will be looking for others to chip in.  Walcott might be one they look to as he got two in this fixture last season, but then Assou-Ekotto was exposed without a lot of  cover in front of him, with the side rearranged after Adebayor's sending off.  If we can keep 11 men on the pitch, it will allow them to be given a proper test and with Capoue, Sandro and Paulinho all tough tackling players, it will need a strong referee to keep player sin check against the likes of Wilshire and Ramsey, as well as some of their central defenders.  Even Cazorla could have been sent off in their opening day defeat against Aston Villa.  In Michael Oliver, I am not sure the ref is the one for this match.

So, with Arsenal three points behind Spurs, it means little this early in the season, so a win would be most welcome, there is still a long way to go and the future looks rosier for the whites than the reds.  AVB will have made plans for this match and we can only hope that they have a chance to go as they should unlike last season.

PREDICTION Arsenal    2         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs have new signings Vlad Chiriches, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela available for the game at Arsenal as they were signed in time for the FA Premier League to register them before the cut-off time for consideration for the match.  Spurs will be missing Gareth Bale with his foot injury and Aaron Lennon will be doubtful with a similar ailment.  Emmanuel Adebayor and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are both out of contention for this match, with a lack of match fitness and a stomach injury respectively, so goes the official line.

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Arsenal  1 (1)                                                                                     Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)
Premier League
Sunday 1st September 2013                                                                                                    Kick off 16:00
Emirates Stadium
Giroud  23
Rosicky (foul on Walker) 32
Flamini (foul on Rose) 55


Defoe (foul on Walcott)   81


Crowd :   60,071 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  Mr. J. Collin; Mr. S. Long
Fourth Official :  Jon Moss (Leeds) -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Bank end in the first half.
Arsenal : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Wojiek SZCZESNY

6  Laurent KOSIELNY
28  Kieran GIBBS

10  Jack WILSHIRE (20  Mathieu FLAMINI 43     )
  Aaron RAMSEY

7  Tomas ROSICKY       (17  Nacho MONREAL 79)
19  Santi CAZORLA
14  Theo WALCOTT (  3  Bacary SAGNA 90)

12  Olivier GIROUD 

Unused subs: 
  Serge GNABRY
58  Gedion ZELALEM
22  Yaya SANOGO

  25  Hugo LLORIS

  2  Kyle WALKER
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

15  Etienne CAPOUE (30  SANDRO 75)
19  Mousa DEMBELE (18  Jermain DEFOE 69     )

17  Andros TOWNSEND (33  Erik LAMELA 75)
21  Nacer CHADLI

  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Unused subs: 
14  Lewis HOLTBY


Manager :  Arsene Wenger Manager :  Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   Fly Emirates Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

While much was made of the relative expenditure of the two sides coming into the match, there was always going to be a bit more than that to the eventual outcome and while the Gooners fans were jumping up and down to get excited about a 1-0 win, it was far from as convincing as some would leave you to believe.  Spurs were by no means at their best and have still got some way to go to get the understanding within the team that the home side showed in their organisation and compactness.

Perhaps more worrying for Spurs than losing to the Woolwich Wanderers was the loss of Etienne Capoue to a nasty challenge from Cazorla, who repeatedly got away with the sort of niggly challenges that you associate with Arsenal, but this was one which saw the French midfielder leave on a stretcher in considerable pain and with his lower leg in a splint.

Tottenham started with the same team as against Swansea City the previous week and Erik Lamela was on the bench, although Spurs had no cover at centre back in reserve. With two 1-0 wins behind us, it was a chance to take that good defensive form into the match.

The thought that our newcomers might be over-awed was dispelled in the first few minutes when it was the referee who suffered from derby atmospherics. Giving Arsenal two free-kicks just outside the box for soft fouls, Santi Cazorla had two opportunities to get shots on goal. The first, which was slightly to the left of the box, brought a flying save from Hugo Lloris to push the shot wide, as it looked as if it would creep inside the post. The second free-kick was more central and the Spaniard tried to sneak the ball in at Lloris' right hand post, as the Spurs wall jumped. Fortunately for Tottenham, the ball went a foot wide of the goal.

After Giroud headed lover a corner and then headed one weakly at goal from 18 yards out, Spurs started to get into the game, with Townsend and Chadli getting joy wide on either side of the pitch. Chadli nut-megged Jenkinson with a back-heel to put Rose away and then Townsend pulled a ball back from the dead-ball line for Soldado to shoot at goal, but a defender blocked it.

19 minutes in, Walker won the ball and allowed Townsend to take it on, firing a shot at goal from fully 25 yards out, but a deflection took it way wide. As usual, Spurs failed to make anything from the corner. But three minutes later, Spurs went a goal behind, when Arsenal moved the ball from midfield and Rose came infield, leaving Walcott space out on the right and the ball low to the near post was turned in past Lloris by Giroud. It was a goal that Spurs should have known about with that movement and finish having been used before by the home side and it didn't help that Dawson had dropped back while Vertonghen and Rose tried to play offside.

Some weak defending down the right by Chadli, Dembele and Rose in the 25th minute allowed Walcott to finish the move with a shot from a narrow angle that Lloris had to shovel out, with Dawson there to clear the danger. Spurs were handing possession over to Arsenal far too easily in this period of the game and it put them on the back foot, with no obvious out ball, as Soldado was finding it hard playing the lone striker. It took until nearly the half hour for Szczesny to make his first save as Townsend cut in and unleashed a powerful low drive from 22 yards that the keeper had to dive to his left hand post to push the ball away. At the other end, as play continued, Spurs were outnumbered, but a pass to Aaron Ramsey saw the Welshman shoot way over when he should have hit the target.

Spurs almost suffered deja vu from last season, when Walcott was sent through the middle and Lloris raced out of his box and managed to just get to the ball first as it looked like a mis-timed challenge would bring a red. As it was the ball broke to Walker, who raced away only to be cynically brought down by Rosicky, who was booked.

Seven minutes before half-time, Gibbs gave the ball away as Dembele nipped in to pinch it, but when he took the ball into the area, he dallied and was crowded out before giving away a foul. Townsend came closer, cutting in from the right again, but a low shot was straight at the keeper.

The second half started with Spurs knocking the ball about and winning a couple of corners, but the Gooners were working hard to close them down on the ball. Soldado went down a little easily when a quick throw saw the ball bounce over him, but Koscielny had two hands in his back as he floored the Spanish striker. Unfortunately, Referee Oliver wasn't so willing to give a soft award in the box as he had outside the box for the home team.

A bad foul by Flamini on Rose as he cut inside brought a free-kick and a yellow card for the debutant, but Chadli's shot from the dead ball went over by a distance. Walker won a soft free-kick when Gibbs came into the back of him, out on the right wing, but again, it came to nothing. When Arsenal broke just after the hour, with Vertonghen and Rose caught up-field, Dawson was faced with Walcott and Giroud running at him, but managed to get the ball as it was played inside. The next time that they broke away, Giroud's shot took a deflection but Lloris got across to his right with his dive to tip the ball wide.

Spurs were building play very slowly and it didn't help things when Dawson gave the ball away in the centre circle, Arsenal broke and were four on three, but the through ball was met by Lloris diving out at Walcott's feet. Cazorla brought down Capoue in midfield, falling on his ankle, but also hand-balling it and kicking the ball away. Referee's decision ? Free-kick and that was all. That was the end of Capoue's involvement and Sandro came on, with Lamela making his debut at the same time for Townsend.

After the changes, Spurs got the ball into the box and it fell outside to Defoe, who hit it on the turn. A deflection saw Szczesny dive left to tip it wide and Paulinho got the loose ball, playing it back for Saldado, whose shot his a defender, with cries for a penalty going up. The loose ball was then hit wide by Walker from outside the area. The next attack was at the other end and Giroud set up Walcott, whose shot was well kept out by Lloris, but the ball ran towards the right hand post and Walker did well to baulk substitute Monreal from scoring with his first touch.

The remainder of the game fizzled out, with Arsenal playing strong-arm tactics, fouling Spurs players at will with no punishment by card from the match official and all Spurs had to show for it was a free-kick worked left and Chadli firing over, while Lamela had a shot from inside the box, but the power was taken off it by a defender, as it rolled through to the goalie. Spurs got ragged in their passing as they tried to force an equaliser and Arsenal were happy to hold onto the ball to run time down. Walker missed his kick when Soldado pulled a ball back across the box following a scramble from a corner and that summed up Tottenham's game. A game where there was little of the passion needed to have Spurs pushing onto Arsenal a bit more. The lack of pressure put on their defence, especially in the first half, allowed the home team to play their way out of trouble, but at the end, when Spurs started getting the ball into the box with more attacking players, the red back line panicked with clearances anywhere including up in the air in their own box.

While there was only one goal in it, Spurs lacked the attacking threat to try to grab an equaliser. Lamela thrown on at the end didn't give him much opportunity to get involved in the match and Defoe struggled against the giant Arsenal defenders, while Soldado had little decent service.

By the time the next Premier League game comes around, our squad may well be much changed again, with rumours of a bid for Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince going around the crowd at the match. I am not sure that he is the key to turning Spurs into a winning machine, whereas, Christian Eriksen might have had the bit of guile we needed to unlock the defence here.

AVB doesn't quite have to go back to the drawing board, but while not losing any more points than he did at this match last season, the tactics sheets that he and the coaching staff dream up should be spruced up to give Spurs more of an attacking style and leave other teams worrying about what we do rather than us setting up to deny them right from the start.

Ted Maul


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 0 Everton 0 Saturday
Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Manchester City 2 Hull City 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Norwich City 1 Southampton 0 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Stoke City 1 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Swansea City 2 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Manchester United 0 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 3 3 0 0 3 0 9 +3
2 Chelsea 3 2 1 0 4 1 7 +3
3 Manchester City 3 2 0 1 8 3 6 +5
4 Arsenal 3 2 0 1 5 4 6 +1
5 Stoke City 3 2 0 1 3 2 6 +1
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 2 0 1 2 1 6 +1
7 Manchester United 3 1 1 1 4 2 4 +2
8 West Ham United 3 1 1 1 2 1 4 +1
9 Southampton 3 1 1 1 2 1 4 0
10 Norwich City 3 1 1 1 3 3 4 0
11 Cardiff City 3 1 1 1 3 4 4 -1
12 Newcastle United 3 1 1 1 1 4 4 -3
13 Crystal Palace 3 1 0 2 4 4 3 0
14 Aston Villa 3 1 0 2 4 4 3 0
15 Everton 3 0 3 0 2 2 3 0
16 Fulham 3 1 0 2 2 4 3 -2
17 Swansea City 3 1 0 2 3 5 3 -2
18 Hull City 3 1 0 2 1 4 3 -3
19 Sunderland 3 0 1 2 2 5 1 -3
20 West Bromwich Albion 3 0 1 2 0 3 1 -3


Position before match :  4th
Position after match :  6th
Position after the weekend : 6th


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