Who Needs Tactics: Tottenham 2 – 1 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Tottenham 2 – 1 Arsenal

A major battle in the season-long war for Champions League Qualification was to be waged, as Arsenal visited Tottenham’s White Hart Lane. Spurs began the game four points ahead of Arsenal, and were looking to stretch it to seven, dumping Arsenal out of the race for top four in the process.

Arsenal began the first half with purpose. Despite good closing down from Tottenham, Wilshere, Arteta & Giroud were all doing a brilliant job of holding on to the ball in tight areas.[quote_right]”In the thirty-seventh minute, Arsenal’s entire season took a nose-dive.”[/quote_right]

Spurs were struggling to cope with the movement of Olivier Grioud at times, and for large patches of the first half, it looked as if Arsenal may grab a goal. Unfortunately, typically poor Arsenal finishing ensured that the score stayed level.

In the thirty-seventh minute, Arsenal’s entire season took a nose-dive.

Gareth Bale timed his run perfectly behind the poorly organised Arsenal back four, and was played through by Siggurdson. The Welshman was onside and one-on-one with Szcesney. He calmly poked the ball past the Pole, and put Tottenham ahead. Arsenal, despite being dominant, were rattled.

Conceding first to Spurs is common for Arsenal, but just two minutes later, an unscripted event was sprung on The Gunners. Aaron Lennon made a brilliant run diagonally through Arsenal’s sleepy defences, rounded Szczesney, and slotted the ball home. White Hart Lane was in jubilation, and Arsenal were looking doomed to finishing outside the top four.

The second half held more promise for The Gunners, but it was simply too little, too late.

Arsenal had picked themselves up and were attacking well throughout the opening minutes of the second period, and in the fifty-first minute, they finally had a breakthrough. Theo Walcott whipped in a corner, and Per Mertesacker rose high to nod the ball past Lloris. Arsenal had a life line. [quote_left]”It’s difficult to fathom, but Tottenham’s greatest weapon turned out to be none other than the Arsenal manager.”[/quote_left]

The goal had rattled Tottenham, and shaky errors began to creep in to the overall play. Arsenal were gaining momentum, and everything was looking on track for a comeback. Then, Arsene Wenger did something unthinkable.

Carl Jenkinson, who had been putting in useful crosses all game, subbed of for Tomas Rosicky. Aaron Ramsey, a player already out of his depth, was asked to play right-back against the rampant Gareth Bale. The change immediately ruined the shape of the already nervous back-four, and the momentum was shifted back to Spurs.

Just when Arsenal were looking at their weakest in midfield and defence, Arsene Wenger decided to make yet another tactically inept substitution. Mikel Arteta was taken off for Lukas Podolski, and The Gunners were left with almost no shape at all – anywhere.

The two bizarre substitutions stifled any potential comeback, and the rest of the game was easy for Spurs to see out. It’s difficult to fathom, but Tottenham’s greatest weapon turned out to be none other than the Arsenal manager.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesny: [6/10]
Could do nothing for either of the goals, and did well to hold on to a few good shots. Undone by his own defence, or lack thereof.

Jenkinson: [7/10]
The boy-hood Arsenal fan was in his element today. He defended well and linked up with the midfield on numerous occasions. His crosses were yet again, superb. Bizzarely replaced by Thomas Rosicky.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
Made some tough tackles and showed real passion when the chips were down. He needs to replicate these performances in games with less ‘importance’ . However, he should have organised the defence better for both goals.

Mertesacker: [6.5/10]
Did well to grab himself a goal, and was solid in defence also. However, he was the culprit playing Bale on-side for the opening goal. Needs to be more alert when dealing with fast attackers.

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Did brilliantly when on the ball, and did his best to get forward. But yet gain, he was sleeping for the Aaron Lennon goal. Needs to be more alert to runners.

Arteta: [6.5/10]
Started the game terribly, giving away silly fouls. But he grew into the match and played his role well in front of the back four. The victim of another bizarre Wenger Substitution.

Ramsey: [5/10]
Put in one or two good tackles, but was poor for the most part. Hesitant to make passes and slow when on the ball. Keeps getting dispossessed too easily.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
Jack was not himself in the middle of the park today. He failed to show his trademark pacey runs forward, and his final ball was also lacking quality.

Cazorla: [6/10]
Santi was, unsurprisingly, ineffective. Imposing opposition is usually all it takes for Cazorla to go missing, and that’s exactly what happened today. Managed to put in a good few tackles in the second half though.

Walcott: [6/10]
I lost count of the runs Theo made in behind the back four, but I failed to count any valuable passes or through-balls to set him free. He was definitely isolated, but he needs to do more to get into the game too.

Giroud: [6/10]
A real mixed bag from Giroud. His first touch and movement were both of the highest quality, but he yet again failed to finish his chances. Not in the greatest of form.

Subs:

Podolski: [6/10]
Didn’t have a great deal of time, but showed some good touches. 

Rosicky: [6.5/10]
Despite being part of an extremely weird substitution for Carl Jenkinson, Rosicky came on and provided some great short and long passes. How Aaron Ramsey starts when a player of Rosicky’s quality sits on the bench – is beyond me.

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[title]Who Needs Tactics[/title]

On the 100th anniversary of the Arsenal – Tottenham rivalry, Spurs hold a sizeable seven point lead over The Gunners in the Premier League, making a top four finish look almost impossible for Arsenal.

The turning point of the game was unfortunately, not Mertesacker’s goal. It was Wenger’s decision to replace Jenkinson with Rosicky, and pushing Ramsey to right-back. Aaron Ramsey was struggling to cope, and the logical swap of Rosicky was staring Wenger in the face. His inept tactics were Arsenal’s undoing. With ideas like that, it’s hard to see how Arsenal will over turn a seven point deficit.

What did you think of the TottenhamVs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below.

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