Spurs 2-1 Arsenal | So predictable as Wenger fails to learn lesson

As I tried to decide on a headline for this report, I encountered a few problems. Referring to our defending I was going to put ‘We keep making the same mistakes’ but realised I’d already used that for the Blackburn debacle. Other headlines I’ve used recently were ‘Can’t defend, won’t defend’ and ‘Same old story for sloppy Gunners’ which both would’ve fitted.

My point is that our weaknesses are not new — they have been a source of frustration and dropped points for a long time now. Wenger’s arrogant disdain for the art of defending cost us the game today as he stubbornly refuses to accept that his approach is wrong. To build a team concentrating purely on attack is admirable but foolish — even free-flowing Barcelona have Busquets shielding their back four and ironically we sold them our only defensive midfielder!

Despite this, Wenger refuses to acknowledge that his side has a problem, let alone do anything about it. Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, someone had better call the men in white coats for Arsene because this is getting ridiculous now.

After the game our once glorious leader lamented:

“In the first half there was nothing [in it] and then we were 2-0 down. I don’t know how it happened.”

Then allow me to explain Arsene. After dominating the opening 35 minutes, albeit without fashioning a really clear opening, we fatally allowed our concentration levels to slip. When Bale nodded the ball back to Sigurdsson in acres of space just inside our own half, he was allowed to run at our retreating backline. Wilshere realised he was the nearest midfielder, looked around him in confusion and spread his arms wide as if to say “Why am I having to close him down?” as our lack of organisation was exposed. Bale meanwhile was making a run between our static centre halves as Arteta ball watched and failed to track him, allowing Sigurdsson to release the Welshman for a neat flick past Szczesny. 1-0 down and all our previous good work out the window.

Bale scores for Spurs

Last year we had RVP, this year they have Bale

What’s really annoying is that a short while earlier Sigurdsson again had plenty of time in a similar position and almost picked out Bale with another good ball. Thankfully it was too long because Bale was through had he been able to control it. Needless to say we failed to heed that warning.

Two minutes later Ramsey is harried out of possession and the ball breaks to Parker in his own half. He roams forward unchallenged with no pressure on the ball allowing Lennon to make a diagonal run infield. Monreal pushes up to play him offside while Vermaelen and Mertesacker retreat (do these guys talk to each other at all?) and Lennon easily sidesteps Szczesny for 2-0.

It was such a shame because prior to that collapse we’d been as impressive as I can remember since the second half at Chelsea. Spurs had looked nervous and Arsenal were pressing high up the pitch, harrassing them and cutting off the supply line to Bale. It was good to see us working hard and defending as a team (something I’ve been calling us to do for months now) but we lost concentration for those few minutes and were punished.

It’s no good complaining about being the better side though. Football is about attacking and defending. You need organisation, leadership, concentration and communication at the back and we are sorely lacking in all these attributes. It gets worse every season as the sad decline of Wenger remains unchecked.

A Mertesacker header deflected in off Bale on 51 minutes to give us hope of another Spurs collapse, but they are made of sterner stuff these days (witness their win against West Ham last week). They picked us off on the counter a few times with Bale missing from six yards before Defoe shot wide and Sigurdsson tried to pass when clean through. We couldn’t make them pay though as two late chances were spurned when Ramsey dragged a shot wide before Walcott hit a decent free kick just past the post.

We had our moments in the match and worked hard, but the more balanced side won. Our attacks were generally snuffed out by Dawson and Vertonghen who were much more impressive than Vermaelen and Mertesacker. When we did breach them, Lloris looked confident and assured.

So we’re seven points behind Spurs and five adrift of Chelsea with 10 games to go. Much is being made of our ‘easier’ run in, but when you defend like that even the simplest looking fixture can be troublesome — look at the meal we made of Aston Villa last weekend. I copped untold abuse from blinkered AKBs for being critical of that display even though we’d won, ending my report by saying “Ask yourself if that performance and lack of defensive nous will suffice next week at White Hart Lane?”

I think we have our answer.

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  1. Jc

    A fair balanced article.

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  2. gooner

    You are right about the decline of Wenger being unchecked. He is a dictator who can see no wrong done by him.With all the yes men around it doesn’t surprise me.The longer he stays and practises his soccer vision,Arsenal could go into irrevrsible decline.
    By then sacking him and giving a new guy 700 seven hundred million aint going to be enough.

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  3. Felix

    Not only this, where were the tactics? Should Podolski have played from the start? Should Ramsey have been playing the defensive midfield role instead of Arteta?

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  4. Hitul

    Another game, another defeat, and the pattern becomes ever clearer game by game.

    We are up the proverbial creek, considering we are Arsenal, but the most worrying thing for me is the managers increasingly erratic and off the mark comments. They get more and more crazy each week! It’s so sad to see a living legend slip in this way. We owe Wenger so much but all good things come to an end. AKBs you can’t call the rest of us sane fans knee jerk or similar now surely?!?

    It hurts me deeply to say it but we can’t automatically think we boss it in North London now. Look at the facts. I’ve heard some negative noises from a core Arsenal insider, which do not bode well….

    Do you see anyone other than JW10 busting a gut week in week out? Do they play their hearts out for us, for each other or their manager? The players have a lot to answer for who is accountable for team performances, bottom line?… Nuff said.

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  5. Ed

    Wenger has completely lost it.
    When he tells us that we have a great team, don’t need transfers and can compete at the top it reminds me of Hitler in the closing days of the war calling for and moving imaginary long lost armies around on a map.

    Dictator is 100% correct and he needs to go now, today, not at the end of the season. Truth is he should have been gone 4 years ago.

    Like a punch drunk and worn out boxer fighting way to long into what should be his retirement time Wenger makes mistake after mistake and piles misery on the Arsenal faithful.

    EVERYTHING should be about Arsenal not Wenger, if a player isn’t performing he gets dropped (well that’s what happens at other clubs) the same should happen with a manager who has not performed in 8 yrs and shows no ability to change.

    Football has changed a lot in the past 10 years, Wenger has not, adapt or die that is how survival works.

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  6. The Saint

    In many ways this game reminds me of the 3-1 Blackburn loss in 1996 the season we actually clawed back a massive Man U lead to win it. After that game the players had a loud and animated heart-to-heart where the defenders led by Tony Adams demanded the midfielders which included Petit and Vieira to better protect the defenders. Famously the lessons learnt were applied and our midfield axis that defended our defenders went on to become the envy of the league.

    My wish however naïve would be for something similar to come out of today’s game but who would take charge? In my dream Mertesacker would do the Adams and Arteta and Wilshere/Ramsey would respond but are there any real leaders with pride in our team? This game could so easily have been a 1-0 victory to us if it wasn’t for the very poor defensive tracking especially from the midfielders that left our shakey defence exposed. Even the fantastic five of Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Winterburn and Keown couldn’t cope without midfield protection so what do we expect with this clearly inferior lot?

    Until leaders step up among the players and have an honest heart-to-heart I have little hope for the rest of the season.

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  7. maverick

    The defending is shambolic & has been for 7 years. Was the same with Almunia, sagna, toure, galls, clichy. So it must be the manager’s doing organistaion tbh.
    The difference before was Fabregas, Van Persie, Abebayor, Nasri, Hleb, Song, etc were good enough to create & goals to offset it. It still cost us at a league title & league cup along the way but we could compete. Now the standard of players has dropped, we cant even do that.

    Seriously, when was the last time we were even competitive in a romotely big game?

    The fact the wage bill is £150m p/year with so much dross/ average joe’s in the squad beggars belief. Diaby, Arshavin, Denilson, Chamakh, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Gervinho, Squillaci, Rosicky, (becuase wenger wont play him) are all on HUGE wage & either contributing nothing or just nowhere near good enough.

    Giroud seems a good honest guy & decent player but he wouldnt get a game at Swansea. Hell, apart from Cazorla, Wilshere, & MAYBE Podolski would we miss anybody if they left 2moro?

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  8. brian

    Tottenham fan here,nad no iom not here to gloar,but praise and commend your really fair article.Sometimes fans can let there passion for their clubs,turn to outright hatetred.I enjoy the sometimes firery debate,with you gooners.On the article its self,I also tjough that arsenal controklled the opening 35 minutes,but they vever really opened Tottenham up.And the longer the game went on,especially in the 2nd half,Spurs could well have scored more times,then that would have been an unfair reflection of the game overall,well i think so.So credit to the arse,for keep plugging away.Then again,as mentioned in your article,Arsenals defence,really is vey fragile,and could well have concedede more goals.Where aseven though i do not think that wwe(Spurs) played all that well,it was still good enough,to win onj the day.Arsenal have some really good players,but they seem very fragile.At times they lookm really good,then again at others,weak as.AVB,seems to have us,looking more structed,than yourselves,for all the hype,about so called polished football.

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  9. smh

    Arteta was uselesssssssss!!!!! Really don’t kno wat he contributes anymore….. Giroud must not be allowed to start anymore….. We should have went with podolski upfront….ramsey did well easily cud be our best player…. We jussssttt don’t have enufffff quality in the side guys!!!!! We shud have scored from open play today but our “”front line”” is not as clinical…. We don’t have anyone that is sure to score in a 1 on 1 situation…. NONE, everyone has the potential to miss….. Its OVERRRRRR!!!! FCUKkk U WENGER and FCuK U fans, all who sit there and backed this man and his stupid philosophy….. FCUKKKK UP MY TEAM ROYALLY!!!!!

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