The thing about derbies especially for us foreign fans is that the feeling is hugely influenced. I wouldn’t walk into a mall later tonight or the office tomorrow and see a Spurs fan trying to explain to me how their poor man’s version of an unbeaten run is still ongoing. I am more likely to meet a loud mouthed Chelsea fan who would engage me on them been temporary leaders of the league. In the past, that would have been a discussion with a Man United fan but we all know how low they are now. I was raised better than to kick a man when he is down.
Anyways, the point I am trying to make is that derbies irrespective of proximity to the ground evoke just as much passion. I have spent all week thinking about how this game would turn out, while I am glad the game is behind me, I feel deflated we didn’t take all three points. This feeling I believe is replicated around many parts of the world and it would be interesting to see how this reflects on social media trend reports.
With Spurs, however, I believe they are basically Crystal Palace that live close to Arsenal. Severally, pundits try to compare statures of the clubs and on every count, there is no basis for comparison. They have no history; they are nothing in the present, and their future is forever in our shadow. However, proximity means this game has more importance than many others we play and expectedly there was a lot buzz around it especially from the Arsenal players.
The game itself started off as a cagey affair with both teams showing respect to each other and the first twenty minutes were more notable for the number of times the Arsenal players were caught offside. This was due to our players trying too quickly to take advantage of the Spurs defensive set up with three at the back. Unfortunately, that did not work. Ironically, it was their wingbacks who put a lot of pressure on Mustafi and Koscienly with lots of crosses into our box. At some point, Mustafi had to verbally attack Monreal to wake up to the threat Spurs were posing.
Arsenal had to revert to their more controlled passing approach which led to sustained pressure on the Spurs team. We should have been rewarded with a goal but for Iwobi profligacy in front of goal. The form of the Nigerian is subject to question as he has not replicated recently the quality that has seen him earn himself a starting position in the team. The pass from Sanchez was glorious for the onrushing teenager who had all the time in this world and the next to put the ball in a perfect position, however, he was falling before he got the ball and his final effort was tame. I was listening to Tim Stillman on Arseblog’s podcast during the weekend and he made a categorical statement about Mesut Ozil. In his words, “Ozil is one of the few players whose decision making improves with the more time he has to think of what to do”. Given Iwobi’s miss, it seems this is an attribute he might need improvement on really soon.
Our pressure finally led to a goal when Ozil in his usual nature decided he was tired of assisting Arsenal players or the grass; hence he picked a Spurs player to help Arsenal to a goal. You would struggle to find a better own goal this season. Arsenal kept up the pressure and before the half ended we should have been at least three goals up. Sadly, like I tweeted immediately after the game, the worst thing that happened to Arsenal on the day was the fact that halftime came when we were clearly on the ascendancy and going for the kill.
Spurs benefitted the most from the break and instantly applied themselves more to the game compared to Arsenal. Their effort was rewarded with a deserved penalty which Harry Kane put away. The manner in which we conceded the penalty is one no Arsenal fan would like to watch again. With three players around him, Dembele was heading nowhere and the tackle from Koscienly was more mistimed than malicious. Sadly, saving penalties is not one of Petr Cech’s strengths.
Reviewing goals we have conceded in the premier league recently, most have all been down to something we did wrong rather than something the opposition did right. Xhaka’s mistake against Swansea, Mustafi slipping against Sunderland and Koscienly giving away a penalty against Spurs. If we are going to remain challengers for the title, this is an attribute we would need to get out of our game.
In the end both teams worked hard to win the game coming close at various occasions but with no real threat. Maybe we would have had some if Oxlade wasn’t crossing balls like a farmer. We didn’t go top, but we remain close to the summit and heading into an international break it was important we did not stray too far from the leaders. We will have another chance to send a message to the league when we play United. Hopefully, our conversion rate would improve by then.
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