This is not a match report, its a bunch of ramblings from a very happy Gooner with no real structure.
Lets start as we mean to go on, with a bloody good laugh. Laugh at the media, laugh at Levy’s £109m investment, laugh at AVB sprinting down the touch line to tell Kyle Walker to launch the ball in to the box because he was too thick to realise it was 30 seconds to go, laugh at all those who say Arsene Wenger doesn’t do tactics.
Yesterday our wily old Frenchman won the tactical battle, and the players executed it perfectly. Looking at the line ups it appeared that Spurs had been set up to create a solid defensive unit and to spring counter attacks using the pace of Townsend and Chadli feeding Soldado (I’m glad at this point the teamsheet is there as it indeed shows that they had a centre forward on the pitch £28m worth apparently).
Wenger had a trick up his sleeve, their midfield three lacked mobility, so Wenger set us up not to push too high, their attacking three were isolated and red and white shirts crowded them out and regained possession with relative ease. And when we won possession we had the pace and numbers to look threatening running at the heart of the Tottenham defence.
Wenger was rewarded by his players with a beautifully fashioned goal, at pace the ball was pinged around and players moved with intent, Theo was set free down the right with Spurs defenders not knowing who to mark, Giroud pulled Dawson this way and that before darting towards the near post to produce a deft finish to the bottom corner from Theo’s accurate cross.
After the goal we were content to continue the game plan, sitting deep, defending strongly and maximising use of the football when we had it. We were so comfortable that AVB started to change his team pushing Paulinho further forward, which just gave us more room to play forward when we did have the ball.
Despite having very little possession we continued to look threatening on the break, a better pass or a better touch at the crucial moment and we could have had a second.
Just before half time Jack Wilshere was removed feeling unwell and was replaced by Flamini, it wasn’t long before we got to see why it was a “no brainer” for Arsene. Flamini slotted straight in, for the rest of the half and all of the second he was one of the first to press the ball, organising those around him not used to such a battle. Those around him responded, Ramsey, Santi, Rosicky and Theo all prepared to do the more unpleasant side of the game, winning the ball back, fighting for possession.
I haven’t even moved on to the defence yet, they were simply magnificent, Soldado did not get a touch from Koscielny, Chadli and Townsend were kept relatively quiet by Gibbs and Jenkinson and Mertesacker did what he does best, provides calm assurance to those around him and reading the game inside out. And when they did breach the defensive unit Szczesny produced an absolutely top class save.
With players tiring and Spurs throwing more bodies forward it did get a little tense in the last ten minutes. We struggled to clear our lines and hold onto possession further up the pitch, especially once Rosicky and Theo had been replaced by Monreal and Sagna respectively. Giroud had been able to rely on those two for most of the game to be his outlet when trying to hold the ball up, now off the pitch he was looking more isolated but what I think we are all beginning to love about Oli is his work rate, he does not stop competing for his mates. Anyone watch MotD on Saturday night? A certain Mr Berbatov (that player that Arsene should have signed last summer) was sulking around St James’s Park. I know which of the two I’d rather have in my team.
All in all a very good days work, this wasn’t our most fluent display, but it was the kind of performance many of us have been waiting for. So many of my Spurs supporting clients were quick to text me after our defeat by Villa, I’ve kept my powder dry, when should I text, first thing in the morning, or when we’ve announced three super super quality signings?
Szczesny : 9 comfortable handling all game, good distribution especially under pressure and two cracking saves.
Jenkinson : 8 disciplined at right back, considerably helped by Theo occupying Walker
Gibbs : 7 given a bit of a working over by Townsend early on but ordinary service was resumed for the next 70 minutes, not helped by no one occupying Rose.
Koscielny : 9 is he pleased to see us or is that a £28m striker in his pocket.
Mertesacker : 8 leads by example.
Wilshere : 7 not his normal effervescent self but considering illness unsurprising
Ramsey : 9 lead the team in tackles, touches and attempted passes.
Cazorla : 9 the boy is class
Walcott : 8 used his pace to worry Spurs when we had the ball and defended well when we didn’t
Giroud : 9 a great finish, constantly working for his team, goal line block.
Flamini : 8 it was indeed a no brainer
Monreal : 7 did what he had to
Sagna : 7 ditto
Wenger : 10 out tacticted the young pretender
Enjoy transfer deadline Gooners bathing in the warm afterglow of a North London Derby win.
Gooner in Exile