Spurs 0 Arsenal 0
So close yet so far. Should have, could have, would have won it yesterday. But alas, our eternal depression against Arsenal (as highlighted by a banner in the away end which disappeared when the Arsenal fans realised they might not actually win) continues that bit longer. We’ll have to wait for next season and hope they are suitably weaker if starved of Champions League before we can finally thrash them 1-0. My back will be waxed for space for the celebratory tattoo cometh that day.
Back to the present and arguably it’s not exclusively just our depression anymore. Rights appear to be subject of a sharing agreement between ourselves and the enemy in red. Both clubs with different immediate goals, and both struggling to get there. Arsenal, dare I say it, are currently closer to ordinary than invincible. We remain frustrating. Decent now and again, mediocre or worse more often than not.
I'm disappointed we didn't win it. More chances more possession. Palacios immense in central midfield, showing some of that much needed determination and spirit we so often lack. Modric pulling the strings, dealing with the physicality with comparative ease. Bit more end product there and you could get away with muttering ‘world class’ when describing the Croatian playmaker. But we'll suck that in for the moment and use it when its geniunely warranted (which won't be too long).
Arsenal (bless ‘em) defended well and retaining two upfront when they had Eboue sent off was rather clever tactics on their part as it stretched us rather than allow us to push forward in numbers had they resorted to all out defending.
For all the chances we had, none of them were clear cut, although Pav should have done better and if Modric had played the ball into the box instinctively rather than waiting a second too long at the death of the game (nice cameo by Taarabt), then Bent would have won the game in the final seconds. So maybe the chances were as good as being clear cut if we managed to get them on target. Close enough though to allow for shaking of heads despondently, and sighing if’s and onlys a couple of hundred times on the journey home.
Arsenal only ever looked dangerous when we allowed them to push forward thanks to the odd mistake here and there and in the final 15 minutes or so when the game opened up. Set-pieces our only other main concern, but all dealt with rather comfortably. One or two scary moments, but otherwise, the South London club lacked anything in the way of the usual textbook swagger that usually sees them score a goal or two against us.
The turning point should have been that Eboue incident that all made us laugh out loud with giddy joy. He got his marching orders for kicking out at Modric, who was booked for his part in the scuffle (and I use that word lightly because Modric didn’t really deserve a yellow anyway).
Arsenal are pretty much accustomed to playing with 10 men regularly so it was never going to be a given that we’d win. We lacked that extra bit of ruthlessness needed for such an occasion.
Robbie Keane was not really involved in the game as much as we'd have liked to see (not surprising considering where he was a few weeks back – he’ll need another game or so to regain full match fitness) and Pav had one of those days where everything went a mile to the side of the goal. Lennon was busy and tenacious but should have had more of a go at Clichey. If he could strike the ball with power and place it to the side of the keeper, we'd all be laughing. End product is also something that needs improving from the little man. Still our best player this season.
Dawson not far behind him with his no-nonsense defending. Bit of revelation is Daws, as not too long ago, one or two fans half expected him to be pushed out of the club (as he only ever played well with a fit King by his side and his form appeared to dip substantially in a Kingless defence). His current form has been outstanding. Jenas appears to have divided opinions. Some say he was not effective at all, others say he gave a lot of effort. Personally, I think he had an off day. Was expecting him to roar as he always fancies these matches. I say stick with him for now, and allow him and Palacios to gel in midfield, with Modric out on the left free to cut in and cause havoc. If Palacios does all the grating, we might finally see JJ smash it up, box-2-box, like he has always promised to do but never quite graps the consistency and belief.
I'm kidding myself, aren't I?
Talking of Wilson. Wow. What a great home debut. Big, strong, hardly gives a free kick away. Tackles superbly well. Is all over the pitch. A player who actually values the concept of winning midfield battles. And probably serves as an inspiration to others around him to up their game and passion levels to match his performance. Proper player? Hell yes. FAO SPURS PLAYERS - This is the type of application required. Not just in Derby games, but in every single game left in this season. Suddenly I’m shrugging at the £14M price tag. Well worth it on this evidence.
So, generally, it was a good performance, with just a bit of the rub of the green missing. Arsenal failing to score against Spurs? Staggering that. Been a while since we've had the pleasure. Cudinici did well, Almunia superb in the oppossite goal.
Obviously, if you witnessed this in WengerVision then you would have seen Arsenal dominate the match, boss the midfield and create an abundance of opportunities including a dead cert goal disallowed and a player sent off when he shouldn't have been (because his first yellow was not deserved). Ah, WengerVision. What would we do without it?
Arsenal never really turned up, plain and simple. Hardly tested Cudicni (who had maybe one or two saves to make, the best from Bendtner) and were very much not Arsenalesque on the day. The 'goal' was not a goal and therefore should not be classed as a disallowed goal. The ref blew his whistle and signalled for a foul before the ball was stroked into the net. It’s irrelevant what you do after the ref has blown. Play no longer exists. Bit different if the ref blows AFTER the ball crosses the line. Yes, I know I'm being pedantic on this, but the little push and trip-over was exactly that, as soft as it looked. And Ekotto appeared to stop playing when the ref blew his whistle, though I can never quite tell with him.
All hail SpookyVision.
Humourous that he (Wenger) managed to watch that incident three times on tv and couldn’t see why it wasn't a goal but didn't bother watching replays of the Eboue incident. That’s Wenger logic for you. You wonder whether he actually believes half the crap he spouts post-match. Was Robbie Keane fouled and denied a penalty? I'm certain if that was a player in red and white going down inside the area, Wenger would have a post-match fit screaming "referee conspiracy!"
Two points dropped? Yes. You do feel that if we had Defoe up front or if Keane was a little more fresh, we would have cracked them. Instead, we're 2 points off the mire instead of 4. Arsenal are 5 points off the Top 4. Disappointment for the both of us then. But it's more likely that we will avoid relegation than they will finish 4th. Unbeaten against the Cartel (Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal) this season in the Prem. Shame our record against ‘lesser’ opposition remains shit. One win in nine is still not great, and the home games are the ones we need to be winning.
Laughable that certain quarters are suggesting that Wenger outfoxed Redknapp tactically. Yes, Arsenal retained decent shape when at 10 men. But they gained a point only because of our indecisive finishing. The team might have a bit more about them after this game going into the next league match.
If you don't agree with any of this, and you prefer WengerVision, feel free to pick yourself up a copy of The Standard, that bastion of unbiased journalism, for a more traditional write-up of the game. Or track down Piers Morgan who probably thinks Arsenal won the match.