So we made it three out of three with a gritted performance in which the back four, and especially our CB-pair KosSacker, earned us three points, after a thunderbolt by Rosicky had given us a very early lead. 1 – 0 to the Arsenal always sounds sweet, and nowhere more than at WHL.
I thought we played bad today but got away it, and I will of course not complain about us winning this very important game in the manner that we did. A win is a win is a win; and these three points, especially after the Mancs losing as well, have the beautiful double effect of more or less securing a top-four spot this season AND get us back in the title race. And winning away after a midweek CL game is seldom easy.
It was surprising to see how deep we sat throughout the entire game, although I wonder how much the early goal contributed to this. Spuds had to come after that and we were happy to absorb the pressure. I expected us to slowly take back initiative and start winning the midfield battle again, but we never did; and although the Spurs players deserve praise for this, I was disappointed in our midfielders today. They were all over the place and lacked cohesion and organisation between them. Our passing game was poor and inconsistent, and except for a few quick breaks through their lines by the thrusting Ox, we offered little in terms of going forward/ controlling the game.
I am at a loss why Wenger has not been starting Flamini in recent games. Maybe his ill-timed and unnecessary tackle in the Saints away game – leading to a red card and suspension for three games – is debit to this? As soon as he came on, albeit very late in the game, we instantly started to push up and relieve the pressure on the back four; and we had our shape back.
As we sat so deep, the one good thing our midfielders did is the protection of our back-four, and especially, our CBs. Nevertheless, the Spurs midfielders played some clever and quick balls over the top, from both the wings and centrally, towards the Togolese former Gunner, and it was during these attempts that KosSacker were at their most impressive. They both fought like lions and worked brilliantly as a team, and as a result the Spuds had very few proper chances throughout the game. Adebayor played well and behaved impeccably which is to his credit, but our CBs had him in their joint pocket.
It was so quiet for Szczesny that he decided to instigate some tension for himself not long after the start of the second half, by making a couple of characteristic mistakes. This is something Wojciech has been doing regularly this season, and he must iron it out if he wants to make it at Arsenal. Luckily, Koscielny acted swiftly and prevented what looked like a sure equaliser, and the drinks tonight should be on the Pole in Goal.
I was very unimpressed by Giroud today, as I was on Tuesday when his tired, insipid and blunt performance against Bayern was an insult to the eye. Regulars on Bergkampesque know that I am a big fan of OG. I don’t care too much about his alleged third leg activities and marital problems, but I have noticed a strong drop in his all round performance levels and it might be time to give him a break for a while. Today, he did very little right: second best in most of the duels and lacking energy and fight throughout the game.
But he was not alone in this. Many of our players were second best in the one to ones and it constantly looked like the Spuds players wanted it more; and as a result the ball ended up with them time and again… especially in midfield. And, if and when we had the ball, our midfielders did not hold on to it for long, as they were not able to pass themselves out of trouble on many occasions. A lot of work is required between now and Saturday to improve on this significantly before we square up against the Chavs: the next most important game of the season.
The Spuds played with a high line for most of the games and, disappointingly, we seldom were able to punish them for this. Podolski was launched a few times but to little effect. The much needed thrust in our team came mostly from Rosicky and Ox, but they were not used consistently enough. Luckily, Rosa took his first chance really well, but Ox should have added a second one in the first half. AOC had a fantastic game against Bayern and he did okay again today, but it is fair to say that he lacked composure when more than a few chances and half-chances came his way. This will come, though.
So thanks to a fantastic finish by Rosa and brilliant defending by Sagna, Gibbs and especially Koz and BFG, we made it three out of three NLD wins this season, and put a massive nine points gap between the Spuds and us (with still a game in hand).
Next up are the Southern Oilers. Let’s load the Cannon.