Things aren’t quite right. Yeah, sure, we have the same amount of points we had this time last year and this time last year when the UEFA Cup kicked off, we managed to finally kick start our season. And ended up 5th and did pretty well in Europe. See what fans expected was a continuation and improvement from the end of last season into the 2008 season. Except what we got was a dejected 1-0 loss at Sunderland then (would on the face of it) appeared to be a knee-jerk from Levy and co in searching out Ramos as a potential replacement. Though the rumours would suggest that problems with Jol (and politics at the club) have been ongoing for a while. Even Mido hinted at it.
Yesterdays NLD was a little subdued. Not the game itself, which had a good tempo to it. But just that it struck me as a game that wasn’t on the same level of expectation that last years tussles were.
The game itself was a peculiar one. Arsenal wasteful in front of goal. Berbatov and Bent clumsy, missing incredible chances to score (why did Berbs attempt to trick the defender having beaten the keeper?) and Bent just scuffed it embarrassingly wide. No idea if the ball crossed the line in an earlier attack (or was handled), my eyes are not that good even with the aid of glasses and watching MotD highlights isn't going to be on the list of priorities for today.
Berbatov’s body language is one of major concern. This time last year, he had still not taken the Prem by storm, but this season he appears to be dis-interested/depressed/lacking confidence. Keane doesn’t appear to be doing that much this year, for all his running around. And Defoe may as well be sold as wont get his chance. Jol obviously can’t handle keeping 4 main men happy. Though I stand by my statement that Bent was bought as a direct replacement for Berbatov.
Thought for every chance we missed, Arsenal had two they should have scored and in the end the better team won. Yes. The better team. Their death has been greatly exaggerated. They are still not half the team they were a few season back, but their future is a good one. The misconception that we are reaching their level is what gives people the delusion that ‘we might just beat them this time’. Fact is, they’ve got 10 years Champions League experience and play to a system that is the end product of Wenger’s development. We can’t say we have a similar system and tactics. It’s laughable to suggest we do, so logical – how can we beat them?
City and Everton now and again do just that (in defeating Utd and Liverpool). They are never – on paper or in recent years – on par with their rivals. But belief and determination wins through now and again, and although it’s nothing more than a consequence of those 90 minutes (rather than a sign the teams have reached their rivals ‘level’) its still a fucking win.
Spurs haven’t beaten Arsenal for 9 years. We haven’t beaten any top 4 club for as long (except for dicking Chelsea last year). Again, for the millionth time, mental strength and belief lacks in desperation. And of course it does when we don’t have any players who have tasted victory in these circumstances.
Manager Jol doesn’t have the skills?
What’s even more laughable is the chants of ‘England, England’ as Arsenal play without a single Englishman in their side. Yet their players know what it means to win a NLD with pride, passion and never-say-die attitudes. Yes, their a bunch of cheating cunts. But they walk away with the three points. We end up with nothing. Its frustrating to see us, with our English boys not giving the same level of commitment.
In the past decade, we’ve tended to lost against them for the simple fact we were shit/just not good enough. In the past couple of seasons – with the players and potential we have – we have been in a position to suggest we could. You know you’re doing something right if Arsenal fans are talking about you again.
So, has this season thus far – and yesterday – been nothing more than a glitch? Or are we seeing the same old tired problems rise their ugly heads.
Sunderland (A) L 1-0 – Poor display, last minute goal
Everton (H) L 3-1 – All went a bit pear-shaped, one of those games
Derby (H) W 4-0 – That’s more like it
Man Utd (A) L 1-0 – Never deserved to lose this. Could have won it
Fulham (A) D 3-3 – Should have won this easily, slack defending
Arsenal (H) L 3-1 – More slack defending
In the afternoon’s entertainment, Robbo was at fault again (time for him to be dropped/rested) for the first Arsenal goal though you could argue the same for Dawson, so best to just say 'the defence' and its lack of communication was the reason why the ball nestled in the back of the net. I didn't actually see the incident as I looked away as the free-kick was taken, knowingly knowing that they would score from it, which they did. Some things are easy to predict. Second goal was just majestic, brilliant stuff from the arrogant prick (world-class prick) that set them on their way to all three points. Though if Robbo weighed a little less, he might have got his fingertips to it. Third goal, I was half way up Tottenham High Rd.
In the past few seasons, we've had 45 minutes of football were Spurs have been immense and pushed back Arsenal. We’ve looked 100% in all positions all over the pitch. So, we know we are capable of it.
But then we choke in the second half. Today looked and felt a lot different. Arsenal by far played better, more fluid and crisp football. Lets not dispute it for a second, the way they create space for each other, run with the ball super-glued to their feet and find passes with telepathic precision has to be applauded. But that’s been them for 10 years.
Fabregas (why he wasn't man marked from the start, I don't know) run the show, and I even before we went 1-0 up, I said that Arsenal will most definitely score goals today. You could see us being carved up eventually. And carved up we were.
Yes we shaded possession (I think, well according to the Beeb we did) and had 16 goals on goal (same as them) but football wise, they were more of a team, never looking under major threat or slack in defence, midfield or attack. If both teams play at their 'best' (not that either did today) then Arsenal would win.
Something about the rather subdued atmosphere pre-kick off suggested that many Spurs fans felt the same way.
I really don't want to spend time asking 'Why didn't Berbs/Bent score?' Because Arsenal were guilty of some sitters too. Do feel for Jol a little. Cant blame him for slack guilt-ridden one-on-ones - but I could argue that once more the teams mental strength (there it is again) lacked any true edge that is required to achieve some kind of win over this lot and any other top 4 club.
Decent game though, good tempo. But not anywhere near what was needed from us - for example - the performance against Chelsea last season, which was drenched with intensity and desire and belief.
Spurs defeated themselves once more. Arsenal can be beaten. But not with whatever preperation we appear to be settling for at the moment.
What Levy has done to the club and with what’s happened behind the scenes, Spurs are pretty much doomed at the moment. No matter what players say in interviews and no matter how many times Jol echoes his battle cry, he is still a dead man walking.
The crux of the problem is Levy should have waited until the end of the season to review and possibly sack him rather than create an impossible situation for him to dig his way out of (Jol that is).
But then we all know ‘doomed’ is just an over-reaction. West Ham Utd were doomed. One game. One game will change it all. With Lennon back, King not too far off (hopefully) – Jol will need to prove he can handle it all. Certain players seem to be passengers at the moment. Certain players need to pull up their fucking socks, leave the hair gel alone and wear the shirt with some pride.
The manager is the one with the responsibility and the same old problems are still there. Still can't take our chances or defend set pieces. Long shots remain the bane of Robinson. Defeating top 4 clubs is almost a mission impossible (City and Everton are able to achieve this over their deadly rivals every now and again). And the other long-standing issues are still present. Corner kicks are woeful. Midfield still unbalanced. Having Berbatov, Bent, Keane and Defoe is obviously too much of a burden for Jol to handle. Key positions still remain 'weak'. Lee (bless him) is the best we have in that position, but he has limited abilities going forward. Jenas remains the enigma. Or shit, depending on your perspective.
I didn’t preview this game. I probably should have bothered with this review, because it’s akin to a broken record.
Same old Tottenham.
So what now? Where is the moral boosting win going to come from? And will it ignite our season?
Famagusta at home, Bolton away, Boro at home then Villa at home. Those four games for starters would be nice.
Football is no longer the game it was 20 years ago. Managers, with the transfer money involved, no longer have 4/5 seasons to ‘get things right’. Apparently Jol has been quoted as saying, ‘the season starts now’. Well no. It started back on the 11th August.