Spurs in crisis
Got to be honest. I think it's actually easier to deal with if we're being d*cked on thanks to the self-induced meltdowns on the pitch and the resulting traditional away day capitulations. At least you can shrug despondently and accept the result at its conclusion with a hearty 'well that went well' before laughing nervously as you play back the game changing moments in your head, muttering 'typical Tottenham'.
Today was no such occasion. Although Arsenal got lucky this time thanks to Spurs no-show. It's not like we bossed it and loss conciousness to wake up and find ourselves 5-2 down. We just didn't do enough to justify a 'what if?' like the past two visits here gave us in the wake of defeat.
It was all a touch empty and flat and hardly the expected ding dong derby. A distinct lack of the genuine world class out there also. Missing Bale already.
We started alright, looked comfortable. Then we rolled out a red carpet for their goal (Vertonghen playing the high line, Dawson doing the opposite, good finish for their 1-0) and the ascendency was embraced by the hosts whilst we went about doing very little to stake a claim for the points.
Pedestrian, slow moving, lacklustre, lack of spark. Add another half a dozen clichéd descriptions for a performance that seemed to be all boxed up, like a forgotten Christmas present under the tree waiting to be unwrapped. Looks good sitting there but no one quite gets a handle on it.
So we sort of knew based on our opening couple of games that there is no creative link between the midfield and Soldado. Early days (another cliché but factually correct) means there is a distinct lack of cohesion. It all plays out with ample dysfunction. So I guess this is where the frustration of the game really does cut me up. Arsenal we're decent but compared to past endeavours, ordinary. That's not fair, by ordinary I simply mean functional but not rampant. Spurs we're positively average. Hardly the ingredients for sexy time.
They looked like a team (as you would expect them to) and we didn't. I don't know if this was failure with tactics, but the players didn't tune into the required tempo frequency which meant no assured build up of sustained possession and momentum.
Dawson was all over the shop at the back. Dembele is still dazed and confused in the middle. Chadli is going to take time to settle in - are some of you really writing off a new player literally a handful of games into the season? Townsend did well but his decision making wasn't always great. Soldado, as I said, had no involvement thanks to the lack of a number 10. So perhaps this was a slight failure with Andre Villas-Boas, not starting say Holtby or Sigurdsson to allow for some invention through the middle.
It was congested in there too. Paulinho not as influential as I'd have hoped him to be.
I don't know. There was the odd moment, like a short clip preview of what to expect in the coming weeks. Not enough on the day when it mattered.
I don't want to dive into analysing games just yet because until that God forsaken transfer window closes, we can't quite concentrate fully on the team. Lamela made a cameo, had some neat and tidy touches. Eriksen will be key in the up and coming weeks as perhaps that player that can add that missing dimension that we are desperately screaming out for. Although again I question the validity of not starting Holtby who was available for selection.
Amazing how football supporters can switch perspective and shift from euphoria to misery. Granted we all have reason to be miserable losing to them lot, but on Friday everyone was gagging on Crunchie bars. Arsenal fans festered in the depths of the swamp only for them to be the ones crowing today (with the imminent arrival of Ozil, suddenly Wenger is a genius again). 90 minutes in football is obviously enough time to suck you through a worm hole into a parallel universe where the complete opposite emotion is encapsulated.
Biggest hit in the balls today was the injury to Capoue. At the time of writing it looks like there is no fracture (he's pulled out of the French squad but no broken bone). No official word yet from Spurs. With Sandro and Kaboul still making their way back towards full fitness - it's gut wrenching that we've already picked up a potential serious injury to one of our players. Fingers crossed that's not the case.
I'm hardly in the greatest mind creatively to say much more than this. A not so super Sunday for Spurs.
Not enough grit or desire to compete today. Lloris the only major highlight (just how immense is his decision making when attacking the ball - some great saves and equally brilliant tackles).
Did actually think we might have sneaked it towards the end (an equaliser). Couple of times the ball found its way to Lamela and I could almost see him shaping up for a curler. Didn't quite go that way. There was some frantic defending, a scoffed shot, pinball in the box...but alas, simply wasn't meant to happen. Story of our afternoon. No silk, plenty of slosh.
International break up soon. I'll be disappearing soon for 10 days (sunning it up) so I won't be around for the Norwich game. Hopefully AVB will select a side that has more fluidity from midfield to the wings and attack - how slow and obvious was our possession play at times today?
In a perverse way, perhaps they've done us a favour by giving us a soft slap across the face. No reason to get carried away so early on. No reason to ready the autopsy either.
Let's not fret. We have 35 games left to save our season. That's 35 games to try and score from open play.