It was, as Douglas Adams once said, “a lucky escape for Arsenal.”
The match started out in our favor as the young players kept the ball, moved well, and passed crisply. Then about 15 minutes in, the defense started to show signs of weakness: a few good looking runs from Spurs and some nice passes by Bobble-head and honestly I thought if not for the fact that they are Tottenham they would be up on us.
The only real attacking moment for Arsenal, in the first half, happened when Bendtner forced a journeyman’s save from replacement keeper Cerny. I have to think that Paul Robinson might not have saved that or that at least with Robinson in goal the save might have been different. But Cerny did a good job for them.
Their attacking posture and our bizarre insistence on dribbling the ball out of defense nearly cost us several times. And let’s face it: in the first half, Spurs were the better team. They won the ball in midfield, closed down our attack, and seemingly all they had to do was pass the ball forward to Berbatov and let him create.
This was not going to be an easy game.
This was not the disorganized, wreck of a team that Arsenal met back in December. Much less the unrealistically overconfident team that Arsenal demolished at home in September. I’m torn about whether I should give kudos to Juande Ramos or call for the immediate re-instatement of Martin Jol.
And so it was that a well organized, emotionally charged Spurs team came out and played their hearts out in the first half and deserved a goal. Which happened when Djourou failed to clear his lines and the ball dropped to Berba who flicked to (what looked like an offside) Keane who played the ball perfectly to Jenas who slotted in the goal. (sigh) It was an Arsenal goal if I ever saw one. And what is up with Jenas? This guy is horrible against every other team in the EPL but for some reason decides to play big against Arsenal. UGH.
I was kind of surprised when Arsenal started the second half with 2 subs. I had said to my Spurs friend that I thought they would sub out van Persie who looked completely winded by the 35th minute. Sure enough, Wenger did, bringing in Eduardo. But I was surprised to see that they subbed Sagna for Djourou. It wasn’t until today that I found out he picked up an injury (so too did Theo, Senderos, and van Persie has the Flu). So the second half saw both Dudu and Sagna come on.
And the shakiness continued at back. Hoyte moved over to partner with Senderos and at first they looked seriously disorganized. There were several instances where the defense just looked as if they didn’t have a clue what to do with the ball. Now, this could be, as Arseblogger and others have pointed out, due to laziness and poor play by Diaby and Denilson. I don’t know. The two D’s did look a little off color last night, often playing the wrong pass, or dribbling too much — but they are kids and still learning. Let’s see how they respond in two weeks.
Arsenal looked like they were destined for only their 2nd ever loss at their new home and at the hands of a Spurs team that hasn’t beaten Arsenal since 1999 — I’m sure if they had, they would have partied like it was. But then, Eduardo played a beauty in for Theo who steadied for his shot only to have Lee tackle the ball onto Theo’s left hand and into the goal. Well, that kind of stuff happens and you can’t really blame either ref for blowing the call since they were blind to Tottenham’s offsides throughout. Spuds fans were deflated, blood was in the water, I really thought Arsenal would take the win.
And then, on came Defoe, with what must be, the dumbest haircut in the history of dumb haircuts. The whole bar was laughing at him. How do you wake up in the morning with that haircut and say “damn! I look good!” Hey, kudos to him for appearing on international television with that haircut, that takes some serious balls. Anyway, back to the match, Lennon played him in — and Defoe blew it. Exasperated, my Spurs buddy says “how do you miss that???” And I said “your name is Jermaine Defoe.”
And then, with a whimper, it ended. 1-1, and a lucky escape for the Arsenal.
I also want to applaud both teams and the ref for a very clean match. There wasn’t a whole bunch of chippy-ness and cheap, hard fouls that I thought might plague such an emotionally charged match. It was really good to see both teams play open, attacking, flowing football. Is this the future of the EPL? I hope so, but as long as teams like Chelsea are still around to hack and stomp their way to trophies I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.
On the injuries, I’ll have more as it comes out, but for now it looks like Gilberto may start at Center Back. UGH.
On the transfers, nothing has been done. Lehmann was reported on TV last night as having agreed to terms with Dortmund and then this morning as “the deal hadn’t been done.”
It’s also being reported in the Sun (and only in The Sun at this point) that Diarra is going off to Newcuntsle for £5.5m. If I were a supporter, I might just wait until I saw a news story on Arsenal.com. Because the speculation is rampant right now, with the boy being linked to no less than 5 teams. Too bad he’s not English, we could have netted £10-20m for him.
And lastly, Thierry Henry talks about Arsenal being “in his blood” and wanting to rejoin the organization at some time in the future. I’m not a medical doctor but having Arsenal in your blood above 200ppm could prove fatal to a career in Spain — according to what I’ve read on the internet. If you want to come back, Thierry, come on back. Albeit as a coach or something. I don’t think you’re ever going to be fit enough to play first team football again. Unfortunately.
All right, I’m off. Until tomorrow!