Arsenal produced a spirited rearguard display after Emmanuel Eboue had been sent off to deny Tottenham and maintain their unbeaten league run to eleven games. However this run has only yielded five wins and six draws meaning the Gunners had dropped twelve points in the process.
In an entertaining game lacking real quality manager Arsene Wenger claimed his team were the better of the two though his opposite Harry Redknapp disagreed. “They sat in with 10 men, nine working behind the ball and it’s difficult to break them down. We just lacked that little bit extra to break them down. We were much the better team and you’d have put your life on the little man [Modric] at the end.”
Wenger displayed brave tactics to stick with a two man attack after the sending off though such was the lack of attacking quality on show maybe Wenger would not have took such a risk against better opposition. Playing 4-3-2 would naturally offer width to the opposition however hard work from the central trio ensured this wasn’t the case. Emmanuel Eboue was having a strong game before his moment of petulance but time may be running out for the Ivorian with the signing of Arshavin. He once again showed his fluidity and interchangeability, providing support by coming inside and nearly had the end product which was rather harshly disallowed.
The red card limited Arsenal’s play attacking-wise but the manager knew he had to be more adventurous in order to keep with his main title rivals. However Arsenal can take fact that apart from Aston Villa, neither of the big four have looked in great form although Manchester United surely can only get better. Defensively United have been too strong and have the resilience to beat teams as their last eleven games have seen eight 1-0 wins. Ryan Giggs scored a great goal as United beat West Ham, beating two men before firing home. Van Der Sar went another game with a clean sheet but the record is as much as a team effort as it is a defensive effort. Vidic and Ferdinand have been immense but keeping possession is a great form of denying pressure which United do brilliantly.
It is Chelsea however and not Aston Villa who are now Arsenal’s closest rivals having been held 0-0 by Hull City but worryingly for the Blues they didn’t create many good chances after Terry had missed an open goal. Villa on the other hand are becoming hard to beat because of their counter-attacking nature. Even with the signing of Heskey, they are as solid as ever and goals late in the game show just how fit they are.
Liverpool on the other hand pulled off a late show to beat Porstmouth which also saw manager and former Arsenal great Tony Adams sacked after 16 games in charge. Benitez opted to rest several key players and play the most curious of formations which with the correct players could have been explosive. When defending it was a 5-4-1, when attacking 2-5-3 and when controlling games a 3-4-2-1. It would be interesting to see the formation implemented with such players as Gerrard and Torres and may see the resurrection of the three-man defence. At the bottom it’s still desperately close with any number of sides playing at a similar level and it will be absurd to see another sacking akin to the one of Tony Adams. The margins of management are fine but straight after a transfer window is just stupid.