Two minutes to midnight
Here's why I'm super upset, angry…I’m seething to be honest. Arsenal are very very average. They came to Wembley and contained and countered and were smart, intelligent and fairly decent on and off the ball. But they had very little to do. Spurs gave them nothing. No intensity. No energy. No quality on the ball. No physicality off it. It was limp. It was weak. We deserved nothing out of the game. But then, of course, I don't believe that. We got a point out of it because even in the midst of this unhealthy state of mind, we created some luck and then dug deep to survive a scare in the dying minutes.
The visitors did not take a true advantage off the mess we’re currently in. They punished one mistake. Can you imagine Spurs sticking in a performance of merit, of genuine depth against this lot? We’d murder them. But that’s our football club. Teasing what we should be treated with but instead get dished a plate of tasteless nothingness.
Yes, we had no Harry Winks. We desperately miss the space invader, the catalyst; Dele Alli. If there’s no Dele stretching defenders and creating space there’s no conduit to carry play forward with positive momentum.
Victor Wanyama looks every bit a player that hasn’t played much football for an age. Across the pitch, our movement lacked the spite, arrogance and application we should expect from this type of fixture. The reality is, we’re out of form, desperately out of form. It’s a problem if the players as a collective can’t muster up the tempo for a North London derby.
Read my last blog about the Chelsea game. I don’t want to repeat the same things and most of what I’m thinking about now is in that article. I will say the lack of options thanks to injuries proves that Mauricio Pochettino is not only fighting the rival clubs but also the self-fulfilling prophecy of season stagnation thanks to our transfer policy (the lack of one).
There are some positives in amongst all the head scratching.
Kane was offside cried the gooners post-match (but should not have been playing had the FA banned him for his headbutt in the Chelsea game).
Matthew Dunn (journalist) had this to share in the aftermath:
“Re Kane penalty: “In a situation a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence”
Sounds like something from Christoper Nolan’s Inception but apparently this is true. It’s in the FA rule book.
Jan was inside the penalty area after Aubameyang started to run towards the ball. This has absolutely done the gooners in. If the wind changes you’ll be able to taste the salt in the air. Interestingly, I’m pretty certain two Arsenal players were inside the pen area when Kane run up. Of course, the truth is in the details. Kane scored, so there’s no reason to find excuses and conspiracies.
Great combination with Hugo with the save and Jan’s block thanks to his blatant cheating. No doubt next season Arsenal will savage us and the Illuminati thanks to VAR.
Danny Rose in central midfield, dribbling and losing the ball when it would have been perfect for him to find the feet of a team-mate almost gave me an aneurysm. But his commitment was a joy even if it was at times clumsy and wasteful. Spurs have not given me a lot to work with this week I’m afraid. I did love his studs up lunge to get the ball for the yellow card on Leno. Arsenal fans are losing their sh*t over this too. I want to inject Danny’s studs into my veins.
Sissoko was, well, pretty good. I like him. A lot. He still looks like he’s about to be catastrophic but I think that’s the lingering leftovers of his early (lack of) form for us. Before Poch figured out what to do with him. There was some moments of weighted passing and cleverness. There was industry. He grafted and the simple things actually came off well. He’s not a player that will boss a game or change it. He’ll do the work that is needed, consistently and without fanfare. He might have even scored. Unreal save/luck from Leno to deny him. I think it’s safe to say he’s done a bit of a Lamela and found his place in the team even if there shouldn’t really be a place for him.
Sanchez didn’t do enough to justify giving away the penalty but then strikers are a crafty lot and you can’t be placing your hands on them. It was still a weak decision. He’s still a kid. It’s easy to forget he’s only twenty-two years of age. He’s still raw but he’s going to be a giant for us. The mistakes he makes are down to naivety. Maturity will come with time.
Eriksen should have scored, easy for me to say watching the game. He’s a key player for us. When he’s on song, all players are. Without him taking control and dictating, we appear to lack ideas. What is our alternative to Christian? At the moment it’s an out of form Dane, that’s the alternative.
Kane still isn’t 100% (he’s at 90%, it’s 100 when Dele is back) but nerves of steel for the penalty, as per usual. Some of his passing and vision was top drawer. Such a complete forward. Loved him grabbing the ball out of the net to get on with the game. He gave it everything and it’s a shame most of the rest didn’t.
Lloris finding redemption after midweek was also wonderful. Trippier, not so much redemption.
Son wasn’t at the races. But then the whole wing-back system isn’t one that favours the pace of our Korean wonderboy.
The goal we conceded was so weak. If there is something to brick yourself over it’s the awkward jarring defending that we can’t seem to shake off. It was easy for Ramsey. Too easy. Liverpool and City away to come. We can’t be defending like that. We’ll get chewed up and spat out.
Not keen with three at the back, especially with Arsenal playing one up top. Poch perhaps having to deal with attempting to rejuvenate the players but we look spent. We don’t know what the plan was in preparation for this game. It doesn’t actually matter if there was strategic thinking. We lacked the discipline and spirit to compete at the required high level that was required. We lacked it at the basic level too.
Spurs are in need for something, anything…that isn’t the same formula we’ve endured in the past three games. At least we showed heart in the second half. We need more of that. And tactics. And early subs. And synergy. And AND AAAANND….something.
Christ, I can’t get over how flat we were. How timid the game was. It was akin to one of the many performances we’ve suffered this season but a lot worse. Bottom of the table side making it difficult for us whilst we search for some final third invention. However, at least we tried to get going after we equalised. We tried to win the game. We gave it a fragmented go. What did Arsenal do? Not a lot. Time wasted. More containment and hopeful counters. Perhaps deep down, if they gave it a go - a proper go - they would have stood a chance of doing the double over us. Their tactics were super safe, subtly showcasing their insecurities.
It’s still something (the 1-1) that will tickle me enough to make me moderately content with the result. Little plucky Arsenal have been robbed of all three points, bless ‘em. Deep down they know this was their best chance of doing some proper damage on us. They bottled it. We got away with it. I can’t do much about the disappointment of the performance but at least I can sleep easy.
Their fans will run their mouths about this being their best performance of the season. You still didn’t win though did you? How very 90s Spurs for them to seek distorted glory beyond the score draw result. Such a hard done-by mob of melts. National Salt Awareness day is next week, starting on the fourth of March. Great timing. I guess we could moan about Xhaka not seeing a red card (for the blatant foul on Kane) that would have undoubtedly given us a grand advantage. Or their penalty, after gravity pulled their striker to the ground. Gooners calling for VAR, works both ways you mobile chino wearing fire-dumpsters.
Looking at other results, it’s grating that Burnley have staggered after turning up against us. I keep thinking about Liverpool and City away but the clubs around us are involved in a few battles with each other (Man Utd face Arsenal, City and Chelsea), so it’s not quite crisis time yet. Lose our next game and then I’ll probably delete the blog. Thinking about it, if United win all of their games, then that means…Poch doesn’t go to Old Trafford. Am I right? I’d say silver linings but someone would make a joke about silverware. Nobody mention the potential Real Madrid job please. Let’s get to the summer before we brick ourselves.
In conclusion, I am bitterly disappointed. Spurs are gutted of confidence and swagger. But we’ve been here before. It only takes one game, one moment for it all to switch up. We have to step up. Liverpool have dropped the same amount of points as us in the past six games. So it’s probably best not start self-harming again. It does make it worse though. Knowing we could have, possibly, still been in that impossible but mathematically possible race.
Ah Tottenham, you big lovable tease.