COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 16th March 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Both sides are looking to bounce back after elimination from Europe this week.  In Arsenal's case literally and Tottenham's virtual after a 1-3 home defeat by Benfica.  What may be more telling could be the injuries Spurs suffered in that match, which could see a re-arranged side take the field against the Gooners.

With our defence almost more stretched by injuries than it had been by opponents of late, we are down to about the last two, so we will hope that they last the pace and  are up to speed to stop Arsenal getting through to goal.  The midfield will have to work hard to stop Arsenal enjoying the space and time to employ their passing game, so there may be a return for Dembele if he overcomes his calf problem.  The way things have gone against the top four teams this season have proven difficult, especially when we have been reduced to chasing the game with ten men.  I am hoping things might change for the better in that respect.

Szcseceny will start in goal and he has not had a happy time at White Hart Lane over the years, so let's hope that continues.  The defence will line up with with Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Bacari Sagna and Nacho Monreal in place.  Vermaelen has been out of favour for a while and when he came back against Everton, he was making mistakes, so the consistent German Mertesacker will partner Kosienlny, but both are susceptible to pace, so getting Lennon or Townsend in and around them might force a mistake.

Midfield is Arsenals' strongest area of the team, with a wealth of players filling in spots in these positions, but they have been hit by a number of injuries, which has tested the strength of their squad.  Wiltshire, Walcott and Ramsey are all continuing in a long line of injury prone Arsenal players, so Cazorla, Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky will probably make up the engine room.  Cazorla is primarily a creator, but has chipped in with useful goals, while Flamini tried to play the enforcer, albeit a cowardly one at that (as evidenced by his late tackle when playing against us for AC Milan in the Champions League).  Rosicky is a player who seems to flit around the edge of games, but often reserves his best performances for us.  His late runs will need to be watched.  Also someone who needs to be watched is Arteta, who has a nasty side to his game, when a player gets past him, he tends to bring them down, like Ryan Giggs, as he is unable to keep up with them.  While Kim Kallstrom is fit again after  aback injury which ruled him out straight after singing on loan from Spartak Moscow, Wenger may not be willing to start him in a match like this.

Giroud is the main attacking threat having scored 12 of Arsenal's goals, with Cazorla on four the next highest scorer likely to play.  Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo are other options available to Wenger, who might choose to play Oxlade-Chamberlain up alongside Giroud as a physical presence to unsettle the Spurs defence.  Strong on the ball, the young winger has been injured, but might have benefitted from the rest, as he apparently has been getting star man reviews for the Goons.  Podolski is a more traditional centre-forward, but has had his critics at Highbury, while Sanogo is a lanky forward, who is just being introduced into the side, with striking options limited by the lack of signings in the last two transfer windows.

While we were well beaten in the end at Highbury, the mistakes made will need to be excised from our game if we are to challenge for a top four or better position, whether this season or in future.  With a team likely to be ravaged by injury, it will be an even tougher task, even though the Gooners are missing players too, but perhaps the edge that Sherwood has put on the players about playing for their future might make it a bit more like an old-fashioned derby and there might be a point in it for us.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Arsenal    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs will be missing Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches with back injuries, while Michael Dawson (hamstring) and Etienne Capoue (ankle) are both side-lined.  There are fitness doubt over Kyle Walker (groin), Mousa Dembele (hamstring) and Emmanuel Adebayor (knee/ankle).
Midfielders Mezut Ozil (hamstring), Jack Wilshire (knee) and Aaron Ramsey (thigh) will be out of the match at White Hart Lane on Sunday, with Nicolas Bendtner being side-lined for a disciplinary matter.  Also missing will be Theo Walcott (fingers and knee) and Abou Diaby (knee), while there will be late fitness tests for Kim Kallstrom, Yaya Sanogo, Thomas Rosicky, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal.

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Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)                                                                        Arsenal  1 (1)
Premier League
Sunday 16th March 2014                                                                                                                             Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
None Rosicky 2
Chadli (foul on Rosicky)  32
Sandro (foul on Rosicky)  47
Vertonghen (foul on Cazorla)  75
Rose (persistent fouling)  92
Soldado (foul on Vermaelan)  94


Sagna (foul on Rose)  21
Gibbs (foul on Townsend)  45
Flamini (foul on Eriksen)  79



Crowd :   35,711 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral) Assistant Referees :  Mr. J. Collin; Mr. M. McDonough
Fourth Official :  Jon Moss -
Arsenal kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Game time : -  90+5 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Arsenal : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

  5  Jan VERTONGHEN     
  4  Younes KABOUL (c)
  3  Danny ROSE     

42  Nabil BENTALEB
30  SANDRO      (  8  PAULINHO  68)

21  Nacer CHADLI       (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON  69)
23  Christian ERIKSEN  (  9  Roberto SOLDADO  82     )
17  Andros TOWNSEND

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
  2  Kyle WALKER
  Aaron LENNON

37  Harry KANE

    1  Wjodcech SZCZESNY

28  Kieran GIBBS     
6  Laurent KOSILENY
  3  Bacary SAGNA     

  8  Miguel ARTETA
  7  Tomas ROSICKY    (20  Mathieu FLAMINI 69     )
19  Santi CAZORLA

12  Olivier GIROUD
  9  Lukas PODOLSKI (17  Nacho MONREAL 77)

Unused subs: 
44  Serge GNARBY

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Arsene Wenger
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  Emirates
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Seventy four seconds was all it took to breach the Spurs back line and from then on all Arsenal had to do was pack their ranks with as many men they could  to get in the way of Tottenham's even more frenzied attacks.  While there was much pre-match talk of character and blood and guts, the bare facts still read 0-1 and another home defeat had a lot of Spurs fans I spoke to as saying it has been the worst home campaign that they could remember.

Taking to the field with only Emanuel Adebayor up front, the Tottenham team packed the midfield, to try and counter the numerical advantage that Arsenal might have had there. However, it is not always numbers that win games. Naughton retained his place in the team, Bentaleb started in midfield alongside Sandro, with Paulinho missing out (along with Lennon probably a result of poor performances on Thursday). Kaboul stayed in the centre of defence partnering Vertonghen with Rose at left back. Townsend and Chadli provided the width.

A through ball inside the second minute saw the ball played through the Spurs defence to Rosicky and when he passed inside to Oxlade-Chamberlain, the youngster’s touch was so bad, it came back to the Czech international and he hit it first time from just inside the corner of the box. It beat Lloris’ dive as it flew like an arrow into the back of the net.

A similar break saw Chamberlain straight through when Bentaleb had the ball taken off him, but Lloris’ charge made the wide-man attempt an extravagant attempt to dink the ball over him, but it was awful and it went past the post.

Spurs were fortunate that Arsenal’s chances were falling to Chamberlain, as he dragged another one wide (which he got a corner for, when his previous effort showed how poor his shooting was and then he blazed one over the top when the ball fell to him in the box from a corner. Conversely, Spurs failed to make much headway in the first half. One decent passage of play saw Naughton and Townsend open up the defence on the right wing and the full back’s knee-high ball in was nudged past the near post by Adebayor, who had got across his marker.

Most of Tottenham’s moves ended with blocked shots, crosses headed away or fouls.  Our final ball in was poor, with Townsend's low cross dangerous, but even more so if it had been ahead of Chadli and not behind him just after half-time.  People around me were castigating the Belgian for missing two chances around the same time, when Szczesny had fluffed two attempts to deal with crosses.  The first was saved by Sagna's clearance as the ball wouldn't come down for Nacer, then when it did, he took a touch to steady himself and shot at goal, only to be denied ad Koscielny and Mertesacker threw themselves in front of him to stop him scoring.  Our other two best scoring opportunities came from Emmanuel Adebayor in the second half.  He threw himself almost backwards to head Bentaleb's deep cross from the left at goal, with the ball just slipping past the foot of the post with Szczesny watching on.  His second effort did force the keeper into a save, with a deliberately placed shot dug out form under his feet, making the Pole dive to his left to hold the shot, but it didn't really have sufficient power to test him properly.

Giving Soldado ten minutes to salvage the game is not the idea of being able to play for his future and I am sure that if that is the intended future for him under Sherwood, Roberto would rather it be elsewhere.  Spurs had been putting in the sort of service he might have thrived on earlier in the game, with low balls in to the six yard box the supply he has probably been craving.  When he comes on, all that stops.  It was left for a couple of deft play-offs and no opportunities to test the goalie.

Arsenal could have made it two when the ball dropped from a corner to Mertesacker, six yards out.  Laying on the floor, he swung a boot at it and made a good connection, forcing Lloris to a marvellous reflex save and even better than that held the ball despite Koscielny kicking in on the hand. 

You get the feeling that Sours are not too far away (but thus has ever been the case), with Arsenal's famous possession football absent today and they created few chances, but took one of them and we didn't take one of ours.  However much Tim thinks we didn't deserve to lose, if you don't defend well and have to play catch up, the need to maximise the opportunities you create is paramount.  The reliance on throwing the ball long to a lone striker all the time was one that would not pay off unless the midfielders got up to support him.  That didn't happen often enough.  While it was not the capitulation of other matched against top four teams, it was also not well thought out enough to produce enough problems to test the opposition..

Arsenal’s ability to win fouls eventually won them the game. Every time they went close to a Spurs player, they hit the deck and while not causing much of a goal threat, it was to eat up time and edge closer to three points that would help them and hinder us. Not that they left it that late, with Szczezny wasting time taking goal-kicks as early as the 38th minute.  The sight of this clown (and not in the sense of his compatriot Jan Tomaszcewski from the 1970s) leaping around like some teenager having had his first half pint of beer is something that leaves a bad taste in the mouth (like the first half pint of beer you have).  Such an ordinary performer who spends his time wasting it and is lorded as a hero is something I can't get my head around.

There were a number of good performances, with Naughton and Ade outstanding, while Eriksen and Kaboul did well and Lloris did all he could.

But in the end, it wasn't enough to get the three points we needed to keep in touch, however vain a task that appears now.

Stan Chun (with some apologies to Pete Stachio if some passages of this report  appear familiar from last week)


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0 Saturday
Everton 2 Cardiff City 1 Saturday
Fulham 1 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Hull City 0 Manchester City 2 Saturday
Stoke City 3 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Crystal Palace 0 Saturday
Swansea City 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Southampton 4 Norwich City 2 Saturday
Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 30 20 6 4 56 23 67 +33
2 Liverpool 29 19 5 5 76 35 62 +41
3 Arsenal 29 19 5 5 53 28 62 +25
4 Manchester City 27 19 3 5 71 27 60 +44
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 16 5 9 37 38 53 -1
6 Everton 28 14 9 5 40 28 51 +12
7 Manchester United 29 14 6 9 46 34 48 +12
8 Southampton 30 12 9 9 43 36 45 +7
9 Newcastle United 29 13 4 12 37 40 43 -3
10 Aston Villa 29 9 7 13 32 38 34 -6
11 Stoke City 30 8 9 13 31 41 34 -10
12 West Ham United 29 8 7 14 32 38 31 -6
13 Hull City 29 8 6 15 30 37 30 -7
14 Swansea City 29 7 8 14 38 43 29 -5
15 Norwich City 30 7 8 15 24 48 29 -24
16 West Bromwich Albion 29 5 13 11 33 43 28 -10
17 Crystal Palace 29 8 4 17 19 40 28 -19
18 Sunderland 27 6 7 14 26 42 25 -16
19 Cardiff City 30 6 7 17 23 52 25 -29
20 Fulham 30 7 3 20 30 65 24 -35


Position before match :  5th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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