Arsenal 1 – 0 Tottenham
It was the infamous North London Derby. With just hours of the transfer window left, Arsenal faced Tottenham with a squad depleted by injury, propped up by two free signings. Spurs on the other hand, had spent £110 million to bolster their team, and were feeling extremely confident. [quote_right]”With pace and agility, Spurs were knocking on Arsenal’s door from very early, causing Jenkinson and Gibbs trouble on the wings…”‘[/quote_right]
The Gunners started off the game steadily, but Tottenham looked to be on top.
With pace and agility, Spurs were knocking on Arsena’s door from very early, causing Jenkinson and Gibbs trouble on the wings. Chadli and Townsend in particular were looking dangerous.
However, Arsenal held firm, and managed to keep out multiple attacks, block shots and win challenges. Santi Cazorla went very close with two consecutive free kicks, one of which was saved by Lloris, whilst the other trickled inches wide.
It took until the twenty-second minute for Arsenal to ignite their attacking flair. Aaron Ramsey released Walcott down the right-hand side, who crossed low. Olivier Giroud made an intelligent run to the front post, and elegantly touched the ball past Lloris, and into the bottom corner. It was a beautifully worked goal.
The rest of the half was a mixture of poor midfield play from Arsenal, and a number of attacks fizzling out right at the crucial moment. Spurs continued to look strong coming forward, yet weren’t able to unlock The Gunner’s defences.
Due to yet another injury, Jack Wilshere was replaced by Mathiue Flamini just before half time. It suddenly hit home that Arsenal’s bench was now completely void of any real experience. If Flamini had not been signed just a few days ago, Arsenal fans would have been clapping on a sixteen year old Gedion Zelalem. As that thought sunk in, the half-time whistle blew.
The second half, held nothing but pure nervousness for Arsenal.
Tottenham continued their good offensive play, and were holding on to possession well. The Gunners on the other hand, were defending well thanks to Flamini, but were getting visibly tired.[quote_left]”The referee blew his whistle, sending pure joy towards the Red side of North London, and pure misery to the Lily-white side. Just the way we like it.”[/quote_left]
Koscielny and Mertesacker were working brilliantly behind Flamini to cut out attacks, yet Arsenal were struggling to mount any meaningful forward play themselves. The pressure was slowly but surely building.
Olivier Giroud was working tirelessly also, harassing players and making space. Gradually, the game became a bit of a standoff.
Chances arose for Walcott, Giroud and even substitute Monreal, but each time Lloris, or a Spurs defender, was equal to the chance. The clock was ticking, and Arsenal’s energy levels were extremely low, without any truly viable substitutes to throw on.
As the Ninetieth minute approached, Spurs were throwing everything forward. Through the five minutes of extra time, All Arsenal players were back defending, including Olivier Giroud, who mad some important clearances.
As The Gunner’s repelled yet another tricky Spurs onslaught, the referee blew his whistle, sending pure joy towards the Red side of North London, and pure misery to the Lily-white side. Just the way we like it.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Made a number of important saves in both the firs and second half, but looked slow off his line a times. Spurs let off a few long range shots which needed his undying attention,and that’s exactly what he gave.
Carl seemed completely out of his depth in the first half, but recovered well after the half-time break. Carl defended well, but wasn’t as effective going forward as he usually is.
Per made some excellent tackles, blocks and clearances throughout the game to keep Spurs at bay. He looked calm and composed under pressure, and was a welcome presence in times of defensive worry.
Off the back of an injury, Laurent looked as solid as ever. He battled well for the ball, won headers and showed some real passion towards the end of the game. Glad to have him back.
Much like Jenkinson, Kieran had a difficult start to the game. He was beaten a few times, and looked tame coming forward. However, he showed good stamina in the second half, keeping pace with the game, and helping out quite well defensively, despite some questionable positioning. Not his best performance.
Aaron was hot and cold today. He made some superb passes early in the game, and played a part in Giroud’s goal. However, as the game progressed, his passing became sloppy, and he looked very tired, in contrast to his usual energetic self. Still, did a good job overall.
Only managed the first half due to sickness, but looked comfortable playing in a slightly deeper role, distributing the ball well.
Tomas was another player whose energy levels dropped, but he still managed to put in a committed performance. Offensively he didn’t do too much, but he helped break the game p in midfield quite often.
Santi was once again a joy to watch whilst on the ball, displaying some great touches in Spurs’ half. However, his weakness has always been of the ball, especially against players with imposing players. He pulls out of tackles, tracks back rarely and is simply ineffective to the game when Arsenal aren’t in possession. In games like today, that’s a big problem.
Theo was involved in most attacks, and did very well to set up Giroud. Although he himself could have bagged a couple of goals, he made up for it by putting in a good defensive performance, especially in the final few moments.
Giroud: [8.5/10]– MOTM
Olivier took his goal beautifully. Many will say that Giroud could have scored more, but the Frenchman did very well with the limited delivery he had, and more importantly, done more than most strikers do defensively. Arsenal were clinging on in the final moments, and Giroud was at the heart of the defence when he needed to be.
Gave us precisely what we needed. I can safely say that our chances of winning would be almost zero had it not been for Flamini. Before his introduction, Spurs were scrolling through our midfield. What a bargain he will hopefully turn out to be.
Did well defensively, but should have really scored. Hesitated to throw himself at the ball in front of goal, but was beaten by Walker.
[title]Sorry, No Bale Out[/title]
Let’s make no mistake. We did not trounce Tottenham. The game was in the balance until the last second, and we can be thankful that – this time, there was no Gareth Bale to bail them out. Because that’s precisely what would have happened, had the Welshman been playing.
The scenario isn’t farfetched. Arsenal’s squad was, and still is, wather thin. A team in possession with a truly talented player would have exposed our defensive frailties in the first half, and probably in the second thanks to our low energy levels.
However, we did manage to hold on, and we put in a brave, committed performance. A performance to be proud of.
What I’m saying is, let’s not rest on our laurels. We did a job today, but only by the skin of our teeth. Arsene, you have just hours left of this Summer Transfer Window. Use it wisely.
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