Tottenham clung on to take the points in the North London derby as two goals in two first half minutes proved too difficult to overcome for Arsene Wenger’s side. Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon did the damage just before the break and despite a Per Mertesacker reply early in the second period the Gunners couldn’t find a much needed equaliser.
Often this season Arsenal have been defined by their slow starts to games, but at White Hart Lane we began with confidence, composure and energy. Unfortunately, by the time the half-time whistle blew we were still two goals down and only had ourselves to blame.
Throughout the first 45 minutes Carl Jenkinson proved himself a useful outlet on the right firing low balls into the box, however, for all his effort there was no end product. A pattern quickly emerged with neither Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott deeming the near-post worthy of much attention.
Having muted the raucous home crowd and nullified the threat of Gareth Bale with some very good closing down we assuredly kept possession of the ball for a good 20 minutes. Building from the back, we probed with patience making decent use of the wide areas. Alas, despite almost total control we rarely created a clear-cut chance. An early Giroud header was the only effort of note.
Adebayor, having been sent off in the game at the Emirates earlier this season, lunged in on Ramsey and picked up a booking on 18 minutes and ten minutes later might have been sent off for a horrible dive in the box as he claimed a penalty.
It wasn’t a dirty game, but Vertonghen joined the man from Togo in the book for a clumsy challenge on Giroud and seconds later Ramsey took one for the team as he pulled back Aaron Lennon to also earn a yellow.
As has too often been the case this season, a lack of concentration proved our undoing. On 37 minutes a diagonal ball by Gylfi Sigurdsson split our defence, Per Mertesacker played Bale onside and the Welshman made no mistake toe poking the ball past Szczesny to score against the run of play.
Two minutes and 20 seconds later we made exactly the same mistake. As Santi Cazorla lay in a heap, Scott Parker bounced forward slipped a ball behind a dozing Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Lennon walked the ball around Szczesny to tap home.
In the remaining five minutes before the break we looked all at sea, most of the players looking at each other with a mix of anger and distrust.
At the start of the second half, fantastically persistent work by Aaron Ramsey won a free-kick down by the corner flag. The ball was played in by Walcott and Per Mertesacker rising at the near post flicked a header with the aid of a Bale deflection past a stranded Lloris. 2-1 and game on again; just what we needed.
Monreal sliced a long-range volley wide of Lloris’ post a minute later, then Jenkinson flashed another trademark ball across the box which again failed to reach a red shirt. Naturally, as we pushed for an equaliser so we left ourselves open at the back. Bale should have scored at the back post but skied over despite only having the keeper to beat.
Perhaps aware of the need to get more men in the box (or maybe forced by an injury?) Wenger threw on Tomas Rosicky for Jenkinson and pushed Ramsey to right-back. It didn’t stop our versatile Welshman getting into attacking positions as he crossed for Walcott to head over.
Just after the hour mark Spurs took umbrage with our refusal to put the ball out of play for an injured Adebayor – subsequently subbed for Defoe – and things got a little tetchy between Dawson and Vermaelen. Given they’d done nothing to help a floored Cazorla in the build-up to their second it was a bit rich.In fact, it was overly cuntish by the cocks in white.
Sigurdsson had a great chance to put the game to bed for Spurs as he found himself one-on-one with Szczesny but he opted to pass when he should have shot. A snap shot by Defoe rolled just past the post, Lennon had an effort blocked by Vermaelen and Bale shot straight at Szczesny as we rode our luck four times in quick succession.
With 14 minutes remaining Lukas Podolski was thrown into the fray for Mikel Arteta as we shuffled Cazorla next to Wilshere and pretty much gave up any notions of disciplined defending. Had the German’s first touch from a deft pass by Giroud been better he may have made an immediate impact but was instead thwarted by Lloris.
Ramsey had a fine chance to equalise with ten minutes remaining but having charged down the right he dragged his shot wide of the post. It took a deflection and went for a corner but he should have done better. Having tried his heart out all game there was no man more deserving of a goal.
Giroud plucked a ball out of the air only to half-volley it miles over and Walcott, turning down the percentage option, shot instead of swinging a ball into the box from about forty yards. He’s never scored from outside the box for Arsenal…go figure.
Six minutes of injury-time signalled boos from the home fans and Mertesacker’s deployment, for the umpteenth time this season, as an auxiliary striker. Podolski had a shot blocked, Szczesny came up for a corner but for all the huffing and puffing we were unable to find an equaliser.
As has been the story of the season, we were made to pay for giving ourselves a mountain to climb. Spurs move up to third and a seven-point gap has now opened up between us and them.
It’s looking like we may have to win the Champions League if we’re to piss on their parade. That’s fine by Arseblog News, aside from the fact there’s more chance of us shagging Angelina Jolie in the next hour or so given the uphill battle we face against Bayern in 10 days time.