38 goals have been scored in the last nine North London derbies between the two clubs as Tottenham produced a late and dramatic comeback to stun Arsenal. The Gunners will feel it is two points dropped rather than a point gained as they were on top for most of the game. Watch the goals here.
It wasn’t all bad..
Despite all the negativity, the performance wasn’t all bad and for around 80 minutes the Gunners dominated. Four goals were put past as Wenger continued with his attacking policy this season but you couldn’t help but feel it was exaggerated by Tottenham’s defensive defficiencies rather than Arsenal’s attacking qualities. Here are our picks of the bunch.
Robin Van Persie was fantastic for Arsenal, dropping into space between the attack and midfield and linking up the play. At times he played as the third man in central midfield but it was at the edge of the Tottenham box where he did he best work. The inch perfect long ball played to set up Nasri for the third goal came from the right hand side of his own half. His superior ability from set-pieces was welcome as he crossed for the two headed goals. It was a strong all round performance from the Dutchman the only downside the link up play between him an Adebayor is still not as strong as it could be.
Gael Clichy– The French full back has received a lot of stick for the untimely slip to gift Jenas the ball for Spurs’ third goal instead of releasing the ball quicker one way or another but before that he put in what was a strong performance . He had the measure of Bentley in what was an enthralling contest, coming in with some great tackles and broke forward with the ball to implement greater momentum to attacks. The slip was the main downside but what has been increasingly evident is his reluctance to bomb forward as caution that space might be left behind him. (More on this sometime this week or the next).
The improvement of Denilson– Not the midfield enforcer that the Gunners badly need just yet however the Brazilian has improved noticeably as displayed last night. He came in with some strong tackles, was determined and tried to cover when Arsenal attacked. The problem is as this is a fairly new position for him he still has the tendency of a central midfielder as opposed to a defensive, switching off at times, not pressuring harder and still lacking the tactical awareness and aggresion required.
The Negatives- Where went wrong?
As mentioned before Arsenal dominated the game and were rarely troubled apart from the goals so the logical thing is to analyse them. All of the goals highlighted the main problems; a lack of pressure from midfield and defense, and the need for a stronger presence in front of the defense.
Goal 1- Bentley: The first thing you notice is a lack of organisation. At the start of the attack Van Persie is in the defensive midfield position and Fabregas slightly higher. When the ball eventually falls to Bentley, Silvestre should get closer to the winger as he sees no red shirts in front of him. Almunia’s positioning is not too much a problem as had the ball not swerved away from him he would have been in the ideal position to palm it away. As it dropped down one may question his decision to try and palm it over as opposed to knock it past the post.
Goal 2- Bent: The first problem is a lack of tactical awareness from the central midfielders. Denilson goes for the same ball as Nasri, exposing the space left behind him. Cesc Fabregas is too far away from the action and generally had been for most of the match. He has become a bit more attack minded, maybe a case of trying too hard make things happen in the final third forgoing his defensive duties. As the ball falls for Modric, Denilson and Gallas are in indecision on who should pressure the Croat. Gallas goes in for the tackle but it is too late as Modric releases the ball and via a deflection falls to Huddlestone. For the split second as he shoots Gallas, Silvestre and Sagna forget about Bent who is behind and the striker steals in for the rebound.
Goal 3- Jenas: The goal comes as a result of Clichy’s slip. Jenas runs forward with the ball, Bent’s run a perfect decoy as Silvestre is unsure on whether to hold his position or go towards the ball. It’s important to take into account Wenger made the substitution of putting on Song who moved to the defensive midfield position. Did this upset the balance of the team? It certainly looked like it as Denilson moved to a slightly advanced position as a result of the introduction of Song. Wenger should not be solely blamed as the naivety of the midfielders to try and get another goal when preserving the lead should be the main priority should come into question.
Goal 4- Lennon: The unthinkable happens as Spurs get their third. In a similar situation as the second goal the defense are eluded to Lennon behind them for a split second as Modric shoots. When the Croat once again picks up the ball Silvestre should get closer while a concern is that there was no red shirts in between the defence and midfield. If you have ever played in defense you would know how easy it is to ball watch for that split moment when the shot is taken; the margins for succes and failure so small.
Arsenal had two or three opportunities the run the game out before the last goal but chose to look for another goal. And just one more point. Where on earth did they get four minutes of added time from!?
Arsenal– Goals: Silvestre 37, Gallas 46, Adebayor 64, Van Persie 68
Assists: Van Persie (2), Nasri, Adebayor
Tottenham– Goals: Bentley 13, Bent 67, Jenas 89, Lennon 90
Booked: Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)