Saturday, November 17, 2012

Arsenal 5 - Tottenham 2

Tottenham dominated the first 17 minutes of the match, during which two events of note occurred: Emmanuel Adebayor scored to put his team up 1-0, and then got himself sent off with a straight red card for a stupidly dangerous tackle on Santi Cazorla. That seemed to take all the steam out of Tottenham. Arsenal were able to take advantage of Tottenham's disarray, dominating possession, piling on the pressure, and scoring three times in the last 30 minutes of the first half: Mertesacker on an excellent header (his first for the Gunners), followed by Podolski and Giroud on a couple of poacher's goals. 

Arsenal came out in the second half sitting back and looking to counter attack. Their fourth goal came on a sweeping move of beautiful one-touch football not seen around the Emirates for the past few years. Cazorla was the beneficiary of a inch-perfect cross by Podolski, and his placement was unerring. The game looked to be comfortably in the back pocket, but then Arsenal, as is their want, let down their guard. Gareth Bale scored for Spurs on a fine shot from just outside the 18-yard box. After that the game was wide open, with 10-man Tottenham creating almost as many chances as they conceded. Both teams might have scored another goal or two. The game might have ended either in a tie or with Arsenal doubling their pleasure. As it happened, on Arsenal were able to take advantage with Theo Walcott scoring in second-half stoppage time.

Walcott played a fine overall game today. It was his speed that opened up the Spurs defense time and time again. But I'll never understand why his teammates or the team manager ever let him take free kicks or corners, especially when the likes of Cazorla and Arteta are on the pitch. Olivier Giroud also continued his run of good form in today's match. He's starting to round into the kind of front man that Wenger thought he was acquiring from Montpellier in the off-season. 

All told, this was a decent, confidence-building result for the Gunners, especially coming against their arch-rivals. But the fact that Arsenal were only able to get into the game after Spurs were reduced to 10 men should temper our enthusiasm; it remains to be seen whether Arsenal can score and defend as well against 11 men. The somewhat sloppy and profligate second-half display suggests that the Gunners still have a lot of work to do.


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