Our wing wizards scored the goals and they’ll take the headlines but the very substantial foundations of this excellent win were the performances of Vertonghen, Dawson and the marvellous Lloris.
This game confirmed what we already knew about the Gooners, their strengths are in the middle (where they seemed to employ a team of scampering circus midgets on Sunday) and their weaknesses at the back and in goal, but oh what weaknesses they are. They’re of the type to warm even the coldest of hearts.
Szczesny was apparently the reason Wenger didn’t buy a keeper (Lloris?) a couple of seasons ago despite the obvious need for a replacement for Almunia but here he gave a performance reminiscent of Gomes at his most nervous; imagine what he’d be like if the Brazilian had perhaps snorted a couple of lines before kick-off. Jittery and full of nerves, some of the Pole’s kicking was comedy and he certainly should’ve done better for Lennon’s goal if not Bale’s. The centre halves were wooden and leaden footed, that Steve Bould has really built them in his own image, even to down to the desperate offside appeals.
Parker and Dembélé would’ve tired early on at the sound of tiny feet as Arsenal had much the better opening. Our midfield core were outnumbered as many thought might happen but they held firm and mostly kept the little pests at a distance with Vertonghen and Dawson proving impassable down the middle when they did show signs of breaking through. The full backs were under a lot of pressure especially Benny as Jenkinson overlapped down the right whilst Cazorla fannied about on the other side. The ball was rarely still for long as the away team seemed to think time was against them from the off and no free kick or throw-in could be taken quick enough.
Our own better-known failings were to the fore during this early period as a lack of movement up front and creativity in the middle meant that we struggled to put much together moving forward and take the pressure off, when we did get it right though it changed the game. Sigurdsson did superbly to find Bale as he exploited the large hole between Vermaelen and the German John Lacy and the Welshman put us ahead against the general run of play. Minutes later Scott Parker dazzled the centre-backs again whilst Lennon snuck in between them to send White Hart Lane into an orgy of celebration.
Still a nerve-wracking hour to go though.
From then on we were the better team (even after Mertesacker got one back with a flukey header), in that we looked solid at the back and created the better chances. We were most definitely not in total control but Hugo was called upon only to go down sharply to one cross whilst at the other end Bale and Sigurdsson at least should’ve restored our two goal margin. Adebayor disappeared on a stretcher but his loss wasn’t lamented. To say he hasn’t made the most of his chance to claim the number one spot is understating the case substantially. Defoe looked sharp and did more in the first few minutes after he was on than Ade had managed in the previous hour.
Mertesacker was sent to the front, Szczesny joined him and the anonymous Wilshere and Walcott attempted to ping balls on to their heads. This current collection are trampling rough shod over anyone who still entertains the idea that the best football is played by those from Woolwich. Livermore came on for an injured Dembélé but still we held on.
‘Compact’ is a word you see written about Spurs a lot these days and all credit to AVB and the coaches for that. Lloris’s speed off the line complements the high line, the proximity of the back four to the midfield puts the opposition under pressure when in possession, except not in this game where we surrendered the ball more than normal. Here our compactness meant that Vertonghen and Dawson were never left exposed. Walcott was never able to use his speed for instance and Giroud’s clearly happier with the ball in the air than on the floor.
Clattenburg’s a twat, we all know that but he did actually referee this one quite well even if he did overdo having a pop at our players at the speed of their second half restarts and also ignore Wilshere’s outrageous and Suarez-like dive on the edge of our box in the first half.
The charmless away fans were noisy early on and mostly silent after the goals had gone in. They may accuse us of living off past glories, well if that’s the case and this is the best they can offer, then welcome to the club.
Talk of a power shift is premature even though we’re getting used to getting the better of them. That doesn’t make the victory any less sweet though. Well done lads.
Have something to tell us about this article?