One can argue that both Arsenal and Spurs were the better side and deserved their defining victories today.
Arsenal dominated possession at the Emirates, particularly after Danny Simpson was sent off—yet it was an incredibly-timed and ill-advised foul by Wasilewski that allowed the winner, brilliant Welbeck header that it was. If either of those two players show more discipline, the Gunners settle for a draw.
We were the better side in the first half to no avail and then got fortunate when a Danny Rose cross struck Raheem Sterling somewhere in the vicinity of the arm pit—surely not enough to demand a penalty— but Mark Clattenburg saw different. Yet at the Etihad—the proverbial House of Horrors the previous two seasons—everything you ever wanted to know about this side emerged when City finally broke through after several parries with Iheanacho’s thunderous volley. Did Spurs roll over and allow a draw to become a crushing loss? Did they barely survive the City onslaught, accepting the point and vowing to pass Arsenal and Leicester on some other week? No, not this team… not this year… Lamela was somewhat fortunate that his ball got through but Eriksen was cold-blooded in the finish and now the dream appears more real than ever.
March 5—and after—will determine things between the two North London sides. Leicester must surely be doubting for the first time, after it was their mistakes that led to the defeat—did the clock just strike midnight? City surely has spent most of their capital— they know they are competing for three other trophies and have Pep on the way—I simply don’t see a comeback in the offing, not over three other quality sides.
I’m searching for the standout today, and like many Spurs games that is the very heart of the matter, isn’t it? It is never so obvious though I guess the game-winner settles it. Lloris was brilliant when he needed to be; the central defense stout except just that once; Rose and Walker their usual spritely selves. Dembele and Dier anchored the middle; Kane was not at his best but the work rate is always present and the penalty down the middle must have come from study of his English teammate’s patterns; Son and Alli each lost possession more than I’d like but were typically active; Lamela made the crucial play as so many of Poch’s subs seem to do; and then there was Eriksen—a constant presence, so active in all directions, and he finished when it counted most.
Do we even care about Fiorentina? A quick knockout would not surprise me. This team has bigger fish to fry. Yet somehow I have to believe they’ll keep winning. We all know how different this side is.
So we got lucky at a difficult away site to get one call; and they got lucky at home against a difficult team to be gifted two horrible mistakes. Both sides were ruthless in their reactions—March 5 can’t come too soon.
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