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Monday, 7 March 2016

Got the bottle back

Hopefully the man is back now

If only the players had played with such effort and endeavour at home to Swansea and away at Manchester United. On Saturday they were outstanding and should have won the game. Had Coquelin not been totally stupid (just as well it wasn't Flamini or the idiots would have destroyed him) then I didn't see any way we weren't going to win that game. I still say they were certain things wrong - Ramsey on the right meant absolutely no defensive help for Hector Bellerin and allowed Rose to come forward at will - but the spirit could not be faulted. It says a lot about Spurs, given what's been written about our lack of bottle this week, that they still couldn't win a crucial match against Arsenal despite being in front against ten men. If Arsenal lack the necessary mentality then I think Spurs can certainly be placed in the same bracket after Saturday.
The BBC had spent the day before the game calling it the "biggest North London Derby" in history. Utterly ridiculous - the League Championship has twice been decided in this fixture, three FA Cup semi-finals and some epic (not just 1987) League Cup semi-finals. What the BBC really meant was that it was massive as it would give them another chance to get at Arsenal. Sky, meanwhile, led their 4pm bulletin on Friday with Manchester United, slowly followed by Leicester and then Spurs v Arsenal. Of course, if Sky aren't covering a game then it doesn't exist.
For thirty minutes on Saturday we weathered the expected Tottenham storm. We had one opportunity to break, only to see Ramsey with one of his stupid back-heels waste a three-against-two opportunity. I might have mentioned before that I am fed up with Ramsey's ridiculous show-boating and it cost us again there. I suppose all that practise must have paid off though when he got the first goal. In fairness to Ramsey it was the only way he could score as the pass from Bellerin wasn't the best. The chance came from more fantastic work from Danny Welbeck who was brilliant on the day and had the beating of the Tottenham defence throughout the game. I think we'd have all taken 1-0 at half-time but it actually should have been even better. Arsenal dominated the last 15 minutes of that first-half and were in total control. 
After the restart we maintained that control. I was feeling totally confident that we had Spurs there for the taking. In the ten minutes after half-time they weren't in the game. I can not even begin to fathom what went through the mind of Francis Coquelin. Arsene Wenger said after the game that they had warned him not to do anything that would get himself sent-off. To dive in like that was amateurish and inept. In that moment we basically gave the game away. The way we then conceded two goals (and were within about three inches of letting in a third) within five minutes was so disappointing. We had nobody marking Alderweireld at the corner that came in (and nobody went near Harry Kane at any set-piece as he stood all alone beyond the far post) and that left the excellent David Ospina with no chance. As for their second goal I just don't know what Per Mertesacker is up to at times. He is becoming a total liability and is currently worth a goal per game to our opponents.
Having gone 2-1 down the players suddenly woke up again and took the game over. In that final 30 minutes I thought Arsenal's ten men were superb. Kieran Gibbs took up the task first of all with a barn-storming run through midfield - I don't know why Nacho was dropped but Gibbs more than took his chance to impress at both ends of the pitch - and it seemed to spark the rest of them in to life again. Giroud came on and Welbeck moved wide and this saw their centre-halves even more overrun. Dier should have been sent-off, there is no question, and I'm sure that we would have gone on to win had they been reduced to ten men as well. The equaliser was totally deserved and brilliantly taken. Bellerin's pass to Alexis was an unbelievable through-ball - it was only on the second replay of it that I realised it wasn't Ozil - and the finish superb. If that sees a turning point in the season for Alexis then we might still have a chance. Unfortunately our final chance fell to Ramsey who was simply too slow to get the shot away while failing to get his body between the defender and the ball.
To win the Premier League from here we will have to win every game and hope Leicester and Spurs trip up. I've seen this team fail so much this season that I have no faith in them going on that kind of run, but the way they went about their business on Saturday tells us all that we do have the necessary quality. Everything is down to attitude with this group of players. If they go out and show more effort than everyone else they play domestically this season they can win every match. It's up to them to show they want it. I am more than happy with the way they performed at Tottenham. Now they must keep it up, starting tomorrow night at Hull City.

1 comment:

  1. What game were you watching? Arsenals only attack of note in the first half was the goal, whilst Spurs squandered the virtual total dominance they had in terms of possession and shots. In the second half, the game could have gone either way but Coquelins red made the difference. Arsenal were rocking and could have conceded far more than two. Dier could have been sent off but the ref may have been influenced by Girouds swipe at Dier in the run-up to the shirt grab. And no mention of the leniency shown to Sanchez when he raised his hands to Alli and when Bellerin escaped a second yellow. Ospina made more saves in this game than any Arsenal keeper has made in any game this season so I've no idea where you get the opinion that Arsenal dominated the game and deserved to win it. A draw was reasonable given how well you took your chances but a defeat would have been a fairer reflection of the actual performances. Wenger knows that which is why he concentrated on the Dier incident as a distraction.