Spurs 2 Arsenal 1 – Match report

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Mauricio Pochettino

So where to start? Well the first thing to say is that the best team won. We had the better players, the better tactics, the better attitude and the better support. None of these were even closely matched by a Gooner side that arrived with form, confidence and the same plan that reaped rewards at the Etihad, but in the end were left chastened, beaten and cowed and of course they can sod off right back to south London.

The players – Mason and Bentaleb swamped, surrounded and surpassed the vaunted Cazorla and Ramsey, Walker drove again and again, at and past Monreal and the bewildered Ozil and Vertonghen and Dier developed backache helped the sponge legged Giroud to his feet as his knees gave way for the umpteenth time. He should really get those seen to. Diving knobber. Oh yes, and Harry, the glorious Prince of White Hart Lane. His opportunistic right place in the right time equaliser and his magnificent headed winner are surely only the first of many strikes for the Forces of Good against Evil. Lamela personified the effort and desire that characterised this win, Dembélé provided a physical and dominant if totally one-footed presence, Rose suffered defensively from a lack of protection but was a threat going forward. Eriksen as ever put in the leg work and provided the class and in goal skipper Hugo was magnificent when called upon in stark contrast to the clown in orange at the other end who tried repeatedly to gift us a tap in from a parried shot and was lucky he only succeeded the once.

Tactics – Wenger’s idea was a smash and grab job a la Man City and so when his bunch of underachievers took the lead against the run of play his smugometer must’ve been off the scale. He wasn’t the only man to stick to his guns however as Pochettino’s boys, and they are mostly boys, gave a display of intensity and desire that left the visitors reeling. They may have planned to sit back but in the end they were made to. They were under constant pressure in the first half, fortunate that the German passenger scored and lucky not to concede. It took until half time for them to modify their plan, Wenger realised an equaliser and probably more was inevitable and so allowed his team to push out more. It made no difference though, we pressed and harried and ran and tackled and the ball came back to us and on we pushed. Rosicky and Walcott, two names that have caused us damage previously were left to stew on the sideline; probably both thrilled to avoid the tenacious whippersnappers in white shirts hungry and desperate for possession. Arsenal were narrow and ineffective. Wellbeck and Cazorla were subbed off, Ramsey and Ozil were anonymous, Giroud was reduced to play acting and Mertesacker indulged in some first rate hoofing. Whatever changes Wenger made, he and they could not cope. Poch brought on Chadli as we chased a winner, Stambouli to help solidify things once we were in the lead and at the death Paulinho to eat up time. The only question mark might have been over the non-introduction of Fazio when Arsenal resorted to hoofing the ball up to Mertesacker rather than him doing the indiscriminate launching from the back himself.

Attitude – Wasn’t it fantastic? Only one side seemed to realise the significance of the game and was prepared to battle for it. Led by Mason and Bentaleb the midfield scrapped for everything from beginning to end. I’ve rarely seen a Spurs team win so much second ball in a big game. We used it well too, our approach play was generally excellent. Faced with a narrow defence protected in numbers it was never going to be easy to find a way through so the fact that we did so often and in a variety of ways gives us great credit.

Support – Truly astonishing and a joy to be a part of. Proud as I was of the team at the end, the pleasure taken in seeing the crowd all around the ground take part in urging and pushing the side toward almost matched it. “Everywhere we go…” maybe but not always at WHL, on this day though the ground was a raucous maelstrom.

A great day out, one to make you fall in love with Spurs and football if you weren’t already. No need to get the open top bus ready, we beat them too regularly for that; the feeling never gets any less sweet though. COYS.

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