Saturday, November 20, 2010


Arsenal 2-3 Spurs: the Decline reaches its Nadir

I GUESS Tottenham had to win at Arsenal eventually, but the circumstances of this defeat make it very hard to take.

A strange game in many ways. A strange atmosphere- maybe the lunchtime kick-off curse again. Neither side really playing well.

Arsenal built a two-goal lead without hitting anything close to top gear. Nasri- a lovely finish from an acute angle after breaking Gomes' challenge. Chamakh- nicely deflected the ball in after a sweeping counter-attacking move.

Spurs' midfield seemed non-existent at times but Arsenal took no further advantage.

The Worst Second Half Ever.

Complacency rears its ugly head again. It's like Spurs were so bad in the First Half, they convinced Arsenal that the job was done. But this is a team with Van Der Vaart, Bale, Modric and, after the break, Defoe. Three of those four linked up, and Bale flicked the ball beyond Fabianski. Game on.

Arsenal had looked bright first half without being brilliant. But the second half saw no real cutting edge. And things got edgy after Bale's goal. Spurs still not playing amazingly, but the crowd go from subdued to... subdued. There was never any atmosphere, as far as I could tell, even at 2-0.

Song fouled Modric not far outside the box, 67th minute. Fabregas handled blatantly from the free kick. Penalty.

Sometimes you feel sorry for Fabregas because of the immaturity that sometimes seems to surround him and drag him down at Arsenal. But this was so fucking stupid. People say he's too professional to lower his level after his summer disappointment but was that really the action of a fully-committed captain? I'm not saying he's decided not to try, and overall he had a decent game, but subconsciously, the whole Barcelona debacle may have compromised him a little. And he still doesn't look fully fit.

Van Der Vaart stuck the penalty away.

Despite the apparent momentum swing, Spurs didn't really kick on, and Arsenal made some chances. Koscielny headed over from a nice Van Persie cross.

Then Kaboul headed in from Van Der Vaart's free kick and the comeback was complete. Wenger doing his Basil Fawlty routine on the sideline, overcome by impotent rage at his troops.

PEOPLE ARE, or were, saying Arsenal can win the league. As far as I can see, they're plumbing new depths all the time. As against Newcastle, they couldn't even muster a late assault on the opposition goal.

A really horrible game all-around. Gallas colossal at the back, definite man of the match.

The best you can say is that it's a strange result in a generally strange Premiership season, but that lets Arsenal off too easily. If they really are capable of winning the league, this season represents a big opportunity. I restate my belief that they can't do it. They'll always find a way to balls it up. At half-time, Arsenal were heading top. By full-time, they'd capitulated to a Spurs team that didn't even have to be that special.

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