Arsenal’s use of the whole pitch created space and angles to open up the Spurs defence as two goals inside a minute set-up a comfortable win.
A period of forty-nine seconds in the first half typified what Arsenal are about this season as Arséne Wenger’s Catalan-inspired reinvention has given the Gunners an explosiveness and unpredictability that was beginning to seep away from the side.
First Robin van Persie nipped in between Ledley King and Sébastien Bassong to poke the ball past Gomes and while the inquest between the pair was still on-going, Cesc Fabregas intercepted a pass from Palacios and preceded to tip-toe away from three challenges before firing home. The skipper has been criticised at times for being too slow but showed great power and mobility to burst past the Tottenham defence and his sheer determination to get the ball back quickly created the goal.
Indeed Arsenal started the game with good intensity but started to fade away during the middle period of the first half as Tottenham were quicker to close them down and hurry Arsenal’s men on the ball. It was Harry Redknapp’s tactic to restrict space in the centre and when the ball was won, play it quickly to Peter Crouch who’s presence would allow the wide men to get involved. And for a while the tactic worked and were it not for a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Alex Song on Robbie Keane, the Gunners could in all reality have gone a goal down.
But Arsenal’s ability to stretch the pitch meant there was always going to be space to be exploited and angles in the pass to play the ball. The wide men of Arshavin and Bendtner were looking Arsenal’s best threat as the pair had a couple of chances to test Gomes by cutting inside to support van Persie and Fabregas while the space vacated allowed Bakary Sagna in particular to capitalise from. The French full back made it a week to remember, ending the game with two assists following the one at West Ham as his cross for van Persie wrapped up the third. As ever Cesc Fabregas was the instigator of most Arsenal’s attacks and much of his passes in the opposition half were directed diagonally towards the two flanks. Wenger’s ploy of having one flank more direct and the other more intricate allowed the side to set-up a series of triangles though slightly elongated to the right.
The change in style means this season’s Arsenal are a different team than from yesteryears. The beautiful football is still there but possession won’t exactly be their specialist trait, just better than most. Robin van Persie’s role as the false nine is crucial to Arsenal’s build up play as is the means to get the ball deep quickly. “He is a mixture,” said Wenger of the Dutch striker. “He is less of a runner with the ball than Thierry Henry and he is not completely Dennis Bergkamp because he plays higher up the pitch. With the type of game we have, he is vital because, when you play the ball to his feet, his first touch is always perfect and it allows [others] to join in. And, in the box, he is intelligent.”
Wenger did show one moment of frustration as a problem in communication saw him throw his jacket down in fury in trying to translate his tactics to his players. But he needn’t to worry as his side looked to be learning from the mistakes of the past two games and showed a marked improvement in concentration and discipline to see out the match.
Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur: van Persie 42, 60, Fabregas 43.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia (7), Sagna (8), Gallas (7), Vermaelen (7), Clichy (7), Fabregas (8), Song Billong (7), Diaby (7), Bendtner (7) (Eduardo 6), van Persie (7) (Ramsey), Arshavin (7) (Eboue).
Subs not used: Mannone, Senderos, Nasri, Gibbs.
Tottenham (4-5-1): Gomes (4), Corluka (6) (Hutton), King (6), Bassong (5), Assou-Ekotto (5), Bentley (6), Huddlestone (5) (Bale), Palacios (5), Jenas (6), Keane (5) (Pavlyuchenko), Crouch (5).
Subs not used: Button, Dawson, Kranjcar, Woodgate.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear)
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||4|