I’m a little late to the party with this piece, so I’ll dispense with the regular match report format as I’m sure everyone’s seen the incidents by now. I do, however, have a few observations to make after this glorious victory.
Emirates was rocking!
After a difficult, frustrating season this result was the perfect tonic. To beat Spurs by a scrappy goal would’ve been reason enough to leap around like excited children, but to get to do it five times after the game looked lost was amazing. Anybody who calls our place the library is clearly a tool.
We showed excellent character and spirit
This game reminded me so much of the 5-3 victory at Chelsea. Not only because of the similar scoreline, but also that we were poor at the back and fell behind to some slack defending. On that occasion as well as yesterday we responded very well. In contrast to the recent lack of drive and spirit against Sunderland and Milan, we showed great desire and belief to get back into the game and eventually claim victory.
Our wonderful attacking is undermined by some seriously inadequate defending
Enough’s been said already about how shaky we were at the back yesterday, but what hasn’t been mentioned is how little Spurs had to do to create good opportunities. It wasn’t as if Bale danced his way through our defence or Modric played any world-class through balls. Our positioning was so abysmal that Spurs got through us with straightforward passing. Witness Adebayor’s simple pass to Saha who was in acres for the first goal.
Theo’s performance perfectly symbolised Arsenal’s inconsistent season
Arsenal celebrate a fantastic result
My friends and I noted that with Arshavin gone, the more ‘angry’ regulars at the Emirates needed a new focal point for their ire. Theo seemed to be the target of choice. The criticism of him was pretty well justified given his lackadaisical and mediocre performances recently, and he hasn’t helped himself by reportedly demanding a new contract worth £90k a week. However, when dealing with a confidence player like Theo the worst thing to do is undermine his confidence even further and he proceeded to have a shocker in the first half as the boo boys vented their frustrations on him.
Seemingly buoyed by our quick comeback though, Theo was a different animal in the second half. He worked much harder and took his two goals brilliantly. Suddenly he looked like the player everyone hoped he could be, full of confidence and a threat every time we broke. Crap one minute, brilliant the next — a bit like Arsenal recently.
Here’s what I mean. Take our last five fixtures:
Blackburn (W) 7-1
Sunderland (W) 2-1
Milan (L) 0-4
Sunderland (L) 0-2
Spurs (W) 5-2
So in chronological order we’ve been brilliant, good, crap, crap, brilliant. If that’s not the definition of an inconsistent team I don’t know what is. And if Theo’s not the definition of an inconsistent player I don’t know who is. Let’s hope that starts to change now.
Rosicky, Benayoun and Arteta showed how important experience is
Rosicky may have got most nods for Man of the Match, but Benayoun wasn’t far behind in my opinion. I was very impressed with his workrate and determination and it shows how crucial it is to have a few wise old heads out there who won’t panic or throw in the towel at 2-0 down.
A pressing game yields results — we need to do it all the time
For our fifth goal, Walcott and Arteta harried and pressed Assou-Ekotto and King in their own half. They were in their faces and didn’t give them time to build an attack, forcing King to lump it anywhere. Song collected the loose ball, played in Theo and he rifled home number five.
Why can’t we do that all the time? Sunderland did it very effectively against us last week, but pressing is not just for defensive teams. Barcelona do it every time they lose possession and do it well. That’s what we need to do all the time in every game, not just when we’re 4-2 ahead and the adrenaline is pumping.
Conclusion — great comeback, but let’s not get carried away
This excellent result means the battle for not only 4th but maybe even 3rd appears to be on. However, now that the euphoria and excitement has died down a bit, a note of caution must be made and here’s why — when we go toe to toe with teams who attack us we are capable of outscoring them, but teams who park the bus are still our achilles heel.
I mentioned the Chelsea game earlier. They left huge gaps at the back as they piled forward and we took advantage very well. Similarly Spurs played two up front yesterday and their wide men Krancjar and Bale were as defensively effective as Arshavin used to be. As such we had room to do our stuff and looked good.
But when teams put 10 men behind the ball and deny us that space, we find it harder. We countered to great effect yesterday, but if teams like Sunderland hardly attack you there’s no opportunity to counter. It’s how we handle the games against unambitious, defensive sides that will determine our fate.
So it’s Liverpool next and they’ll have a go at Anfield which will mean there’ll be space for us to play. With the confidence boost and injection of self belief yesterday gave us, hopefully we can produce a similar performance and close the gap on Spurs even further.
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