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Sp*rs 3-3 Arsenal, or Passion Only Gets You So Far

April 21, 2011

The North London derby has come and gone and there remains a sour taste in the mouths of many Arsenal supporters. In the league table we’re now third (on goal difference) after Chelsea’s win against Birmingham City, making our chances of winning the title even more remote than they were after Sunday’s result. I thought it best to stay away from Twitter in order to get my thoughts together and avoid any of the negativity that often accompanies poor results.

It was easy to see how things went wrong for us. Though Walcott, Nasri, and van Persie each scored during the game, putting us up 3-1 at one point, we were poor defensively. In most games three goals should be enough to ensure a win, but with good ol’ Arsenal we just can’t rely on that, not with this team. Pundits have been saying for months that Arsenal’s problem is in the defense and it’s been hard to refute this. Recently, however, it should be noted that Arsenal have had the third best defense in the league behind Man City and Chelsea, but today we just didn’t show that. Today we had a soft underbelly and practically rolled over to expose it.

Djourou, though our current first place centre-half, could have done better at White Hart Lane. He failed to illustrate his usual quick thinking and strong decision-making in a consistent way, allowing Sp*rs players past him on some occasions, or giving the ball away on others. Not something we can afford. Koscielny was rather quiet, committing no major errors, but producing nothing spectacular either. Clichy was continually caught high on the pitch (a common complaint amongst supporters) and tried to over play the ball in his own half. Sagna and Song were our two best defenders today, but two just couldn’t cut it when the back line was poor.

Szczesny had a strong performance overall, but still let in three goals. Of these, the only one I can complain about was van der Vaart’s penalty kick which was conceded by the young Pole as he ran out at Aaron Lennon and tripped him in the box. Szczesny was luck earlier when he collided with Bale in nearly the same spot on the pitch, but at least did some damage to the chimp in the process. Szczesny usually makes strong defending decisions and is quite consistent, but today made a couple of poor calls, the worst of which cost us the three points we surely had in the bag.

Arsene Wenger can only be frustrated with Arsenal recently dropping of points.

I think Arsene made a mistake in taking Nasri and Walcott off and bringing Bendtner and Arshavin on. Neither of the subs contributed anything worthwhile to the offense, if anything the change disrupted the partnership our four front men had developed. To take off two players who had already scored and, as Theo’s near miss illustrated, could likely have scored again was a poor decision from the boss. Bendtner being played wide on the right is a waste of  potential scoring, in my opinion; he’s a tall guy and great at headed goals, so why isn’t he played in the centre with Robin out wide? Just makes no sense to me. Diaby was subbed out for Wilshere, who had been rested in light of his sub-par performance against Liverpool on Sunday. Wilshere should not have come on and should have been rested fully. He did not add his usual spark to our midfield play and we lost some of our sting after the substitution.

I can’t fault the team for their effort though, since they challenged well for the ball and put pressure on the Sp*rs throughout the game, never giving up until the whistle blew for full time. Cesc in particular looked as though he gave his all today, even though it wasn’t his best (I’ve never wanted a last second ball to hit the back of the net as bad as I wanted his to today). Every player on the pitch tried hard to get a result, but a couple bad decisions on our part is what brought us down in the end.

On another note, I’m off for Ottawa this weekend and will be staying there for four days. We’re facing Bolton on Sunday and I may be looking for a decent pub to catch the game. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them, not having been to the captial before. It would also be great to meet any other gooners who may be around.

Here’s hoping the rest of your week and your Easter go fantastically.

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