Arsenal (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 22nd December 2007


I am not usually a pessimist about Spurs games, although goodness knows I should be after all these years, but without much of a defence and injuries elsewhere in the side, it will be a really tough task to win away to the Gooners.  As, things go, it is one we need to win, but perhaps might have to settle for a defeat after already losing at home already this season. 

Although Tottenham are a more confident and successful side under Juande Ramos, the injuries that have decimated the defence leaves Spurs with neither greatly experienced players nor a great deal of options for replacements, so expect Troy Archibald-Henville to be on the bench if Dawson fails to make it.

Going forward things are not too bad for Tottenham, with all the forwards scoring recently, although a pairing of Keane and Berbatov will probably start off, with Bent (if he overcomes his knock) and Defoe being on the bench.  The midfield will need to work hard, so perhaps Tainio will get a look in from the subs bench at some stage, whit Ramos ticking with the four of Malbranque, Jenas, Boateng and Lennon if they are all fit.

Arsenal get a lot of plaudits for their play, which is based on a fair bit of fitness and the age old practice of pushing and running.  With Fabregas dictating play in midfield, he will need close attention to make sure he does not get enough room to make things tick, while up front, whoever plays in the centre of the back four will need to cope with the height of Adebayour.

At the back, it might be possible to get some joy, as long as we don't play into the hands of Toure or Senderos or Gallas and keep the ball on the deck with plenty of pulling the back men around to make space for others.

It will be a tough game at any time, but lacking fit and experienced personnel, Spurs would be lucky to get too much out of this particular match ... with Rob Styles refereeing, it will be even harder !!

PREDICTION : -  Arsenal  2   Tottenham Hotspur   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


ARSENAL : - Theo Walcott (knee); Denilson (suspended)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (thigh); Ricardo Rocha (knee); Anthony Gardner (ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Didier Zokora (suspended 1 of 3); Michael Dawson (migraines)


Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
Sky Sports 1 -  Football First  -  Saturday 20.25
Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 - 23.50 (highlights)
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Arsenal   1   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  the new Highbury
Saturday 22nd December 2007
Kick Off :  12.45 p.m.
Crowd :   60,087
Referee :  Rob Styles (Waterlooville)
Weather :  -  Cold, dry
Teams : - 
Arsenal :


Toure (c)    
Eboue (Bendtner 74)

Hleb (Gilberto 82)


Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee (Taarabt 81)

Boateng     (Huddlestone 60)

Keane (c) (Defoe 74)


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  

Adebayour 48
Bendtner 75

Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 66

Cards : -  

Gallas (dissent) 38
Toure (foul) 71  


Tottenham Hotspur 

Boateng (foul) 60
Berbatov (foul) 67
Tainio (foul) 70 


Match Report : -  
Robbie Keane twice spurned opportunities to give Tottenham a chance to level things and then to establish a 2-1 lead at the Arrogants Stadium, but Arsenal still lived up to their "lucky" epithet, as they escaped on another occasion when referee Styles over-looked another stonewall penalty, allowing them to go on to a 2-1 victory.

Coming into the game, Spurs were missing Jermaine Jenas, Darren Bent and Michael Dawson, on top of al the other injuries, so it meant a first start for Jamie O'Hara in midfield.  With the lack of options, it looked as though it would be a backs to the wall affair, but in the end, it didn't turn out like that and although the first half was poor, the second was very lively.

The first five minutes saw Arsenal carve out two half chances as they played the passes around in front of the Spurs penalty area, but neither were hit with great power.  Firstly Flamini got on the end of a through pass, just wrapping his foot around the frame of Kaboul to guide the ball at goal, but it hit the side netting.  That made a section of the Arse fans all excited, but it was wide and lucky it was, as Robinson wouldn't have been able to do much about it if it had been on target.  When Fabregas' free-kick fell nicely for Toure, he could thankfully  only get a half-hearted shot at Robinson.  

Spurs were not rattle by the home side's start and worked a move on the right to free Lennon, who sent in a cross that was a little too high for Berba, but Sagna got a touch on it to take it away from Keane as he came in at the far post.

As both sides looked to play longer passes into their forwards, the defenders were winning the ball or closing down the men on the ball quickly.  When Arsenal did get Eboue through on the right hand side of the area, his shot was well pushed aside by Robbo for a corner in the 34th minute.  Five minutes later, Tottenham had their first effort on target, as Berbatov hit a free-kick from 30 yards out, but with little power to trouble Almunia, who gathered the ball comfortably.  In the next attack, we came a bit closer, as Lennon pulled the ball back to the right hand corner of the penalty area to Kevin-Prince Boateng and he curled a shot over the Arsenal keeper and it went about two feet over the far angle of the bar and post.

ENO showed his England class once more, just three minutes before the break.  Fabregas played a pacy corner into the area, where Toure met it with his head and from close range, Robinson dived quickly to his left to push the ball wide to keep the scoreboard redundant when the half-time whistle arrived.

With both sides passing less than accurately and lacking a potent threat on goal, you felt the second period would be more action-packed.  And so it proved, from almost the first minute of the half.

Tottenham allowed Arsenal to do what has been our undoing before and as Fabregas ran at goal, he was not closed down and he back-heeled the ball into the path of Adebayour, coming in from the left flank and he guided his side-foot shot under Robinson to open the scoring.  It was a good move by the opposition, but one the team should have been briefed on before the match, as the Spaniard's breaks forward often are the pre-cursor to goals.

The score rattled Spurs for a while and Fabregas had a long range shot without any defender approaching him, but luckily, it flew wide.  Boateng made way for Tom Huddlestone, just after the German had just picked up a yellow card and the big ex-Derby young man looked to pass the ball through the Arsenal defence. 

On 65 minutes, Robbie Keane had his first chance to level things up and when he got on the end of Lennon's cross that eluded Sagna, his far post volley rattled the crossbar and the ball bounced a long way out.  The woodwork only delayed the equaliser a minute, as Keane chased down a ball forward from Chimbonda, turned his man close to the dead ball line and played it into Dimitar Berbatov's path.  Although he was less than a yard in from the line and had two players around him, he drilled his shot at goal and it beat Almunia at his near post to make it 1-1.  While not of the same difficulty or as far out, it was similar to Marco van Basten's strike in the European Championship final of 1988 against Russia.

It was a bit odd that Berbatov received a yellow card for tugging a shirt, while Flamini perpetrated two bad tackles and Gallas and Rosicky were guilty of shirt-pulling too.  Homer ??? You decide.  Tainio's booking for a foul on Adebayour was nothing more than a foul, but Styles doesn't seem to be able to differentiate between what constitutes a caution and what doesn't.

With 70 minutes on the clock, a ball into the Arsenal area bounced around and fell to Berba, who shuffled his feet and went past one defender before Toure went over the ball and fouled the Bulgarian halfway up his shin.  Styles could do little else than point to the spot and Robbie Keane's usual reliability from the spot was hoped for as he stepped up to the mark.  He did his trademark shimmy in his run-up, but Almunia stood still instead of showing the Irishman which way he was going and when Keane struck the ball to the keeper's right, he got down to it and palmed it aside.  It was a golden chance to put the game in Tottenham's favour and it was gone.

With Defoe coming on for Keane and Bendtner replacing Eboue, these changes swung the match.  The Arsenal sub's first touch was to head the ball unchallenged from Fabregas' corner.  It was a goal that we have let in all too often this season and with a quarter of an hour left, it was a match still to play for. 

Ramos decided to risk all and put Taarabt on for Lee, with the impressive O'Hara going into the left back slot after doing very well on his debut.  Adel gave us what we expected from him.  One double step over and two nutmegs announced his arrival and the second incident of slipping the ball through Sagna's legs took him into the penalty area, where the French defender missed the ball and took his legs from behind, with Styles well placed for a view of the challenge.

Having given one, Styles was not going to award another penalty to Spurs, but it should have been a spot-kick and Tottenham's last chance to get back into the match.  Hud had a shot late on, but pulled it wide off Defoe, who rarely had a chance himself.  Unfortunately, having played very well up until the last ten minutes, Berbatov showed why his body language tells us he wants away.  His efforts were shocking in those final stages of the game, as he lost possession without too much concern, failed to tackle back and generally shrugged his shoulders at other team-mates as the game slipped away from us.

It was a disappointing end to a game that Arsenal did not play well in, but one in which we could have got more than the 1-2 defeat we ended up with.  Without a recognised back four and missing Zokora and others, it perhaps indicates that the ability is there.  What we need now is the concentration and the taking of chances to make sure we have a base to build on.

Ramos has worked wonders in a short time and given longer, with a stronger squad, I am sure he will make a difference at the club.  Arsenal have had the upper hand for a number of years now, but for how much longer ?





Reaction : -



I don't think we can blame Robbie Keane too much for missing the volley that hit the bar.  It was one that you have to take quickly and a few inches lower and it would have been in.  However, having said that, it it had fallen to Berbatov, like the one did at Pompey last week, he might have tucked it away without going for the power.

Thought Kaboul looked better and O'Hara was industrious and looks a good passer of the ball too.  Lennon failed to make the most of his pace against Clichy and looked hesitant when attacking the full back, while Tainio did OK at right back, filling in with all the injuries we have.

Robbo again showed good reflexes to make a couple of sharp saves and Taarabt's cameo showed he can give even experienced defenders problems.

Once more, it was a set-piece that done us and a sloppy start to the second half saw us a goal behind and chasing the game.

We were close to getting something from the game, but not close enough.


A cursory trawl through various sites but one point about the arse game seems to have passed unmentioned, mebbe because most people - me included, honest - are a bit reluctant to agree with TV pundits, not least when they're Alan Hansen. But I have to say I thought he was spot on (no painful pun intended) in pointing out that a substitution was made just as the corner which led to the decisive goal was to be taken. A cardinal no-no, I've always thought, and with the record of defending set pieces at the best of times... What made it all the more depressing as far as I was concerned was that Ramos has been appointed not least for his great footballing acumen.
Still, here's to victory in the league cup.




Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 3 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Fulham 1 Wigan Athletic 1 Saturday
Liverpool 4 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Reading 2 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 West Ham United 2 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Derby County 2 Sunday
Manchester United 2 Everton 1 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 0 Chelsea 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 18 13 4 1 36 15 43 +21
2 Manchester United 18 13 3 2 32 9 42 +24
3 Chelsea 18 11 4 3 25 10 37 +15
4 Manchester City 18 10 4 4 25 20 34 +5
5 Liverpool 17 9 6 2 31 11 33 +20
6 Everton 18 9 3 6 32 18 30 +14
7 Portsmouth 18 8 6 4 29 19 30 +10
8 Aston Villa 18 8 5 5 29 21 29 +8
9 Newcastle United 18 7 5 6 26 28 26 -2
10 Blackburn Rovers 18 7 5 6 23 25 26 -2
11 West Ham United 17 7 4 6 22 15 25 +7
12 Reading 18 6 3 9 24 35 21 -11
13 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 18 4 6 8 30 31 18 -1
14 Bolton Wanderers 18 4 5 9 21 27 17 -6
15 Middlesbrough 18 4 5 9 17 30 17 -13
16 Birmingham City 18 4 3 11 18 30 15 -12
17 Fulham 18 2 8 8 19 28 14 -9
18 Sunderland 18 3 5 10 17 34 14 -17
19 Wigan Athletic 18 3 4 12 18 33 13 -16
20 Derby County 18 1 4 13 8 41 7 -33


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