Saturday, October 31, 2009

Arsenal Slaughter Spurs 3-0 as Harry and Robbie Eat Their Words...

Arsenal gave Spurs a taste of what is expected of a title-chasing team by ripping them to shreds at the Emirates today.
Two first-half goals in the space of 50 seconds put the Gunners firmly in the driving seat before Robin van Persie added his second and Arsenal's third to kill the game off.

The first half was a tight affair, Harry Redknapp surprised everyone by matching Arsenal's formation and going man for man as Robbie Keane was moved out as a left sided forward while Crouch played as the lone striker.
It worked for the most part...
Arsenal were frustrated, all too often the foundation of Fabregas, Song, and Diaby have outnumbered their opponents in the engine room, and have gone on to dominate and dictate the flow of a game.
But with Spurs going man for man in the middle and hassling Arsenal at every hands turn meant that space in midfield was at a premium, and the congested centre resulted in a lot of patchy play from both sides
Arsenal, for their part, looked cramped but patient, waiting for that perfect moment to open their rivals up.
It wasn't all going their way though. Spurs had come to frustrate, and were denying space and chances, while creating some signs of danger for Arsene Wenger's men.
The most notable of the early stages came when Robbie Keane burst into the box only for Song to produce a brilliant tackle right as the Spurs man was about to pull the trigger.
Minutes later, Heurelho Gomes pulled off a phenomenal save to deny Fabregas. The Brazilian shot stopper seemed to grow a couple of inches as he dived, and he made the vital touch when he had no right to even get near the Spaniard's expertly placed shot.
As the half wore on, you could sense the frustration growing in the Arsenal ranks. Spurs were controlling midfield, Fabregas and Arshavin were being starved of time and space and Tottenham were beginning to get on top as Harry's game-plan looked close to being a master-stroke.
Then as the game moved towards half time, Bendtner pulled a hamstring and went off injured, to be replaced by Eduardo. The smaller, more mobile forward began to drift out of his "fixed" position and all of a sudden, the Spurs defence started to look less confident.
Spurs and Harry were by far the happier. Only one real chance created by Arsenal in the half and a number of half chances for Spurs meant that the second half was going to be a tense affair...
And then Arsenal sprung to life by scoring twice in the space of 50 seconds.
The first came from a lax piece of defending by Ledley King as he allowed van Persie to get the jump on him at the front post and hammer home Sagna's weighted cross after Robbie Keane had failed to close the Frenchman down.
The next goal came straight from the tip. The Emirates was still celebrating van Persie's goal when Keane tipped off and passed back to Palacios, he was caught in possession by Fabregas, who drove straight at goal.
He eluded two challenges before finding the bottom corner of Gomes' net, it was a superb goal from Arsenal's point of view, but from Spurs', it was a disaster.
The goal resembled something you'd see on Hackney Marshes on a Sunday morning as the entire team switched off before Gomes made a cardinal error by letting the ball sneak in at the near post.
Ledley King doesn't come out of this goal smelling of roses either, his rash challenge outside the box when he could have easily jockied Fabregas gave the Spaniard a clear run on goal.
The game had flipped in less than one minute, from Spurs being on top and relatively comfortable at 0-0, they were now two down and the game was as good as over.
15 minutes into the second half and the game was well and truly over, as Robin van Persie added his 2nd and his 7th in five games.
At 2-0 Spurs had some hope, especially as Arsenal conceded two goals to West Ham after being in a similar position last week but at 3-0...
The goal came about after Harry decided to go 442, Gareth Bale was brought on for Huddlestone, and all of a sudden Arsenal's three in midfield were winning every ball against Spurs' two and the pitch just opened up.
A trend was beginning to develop and another ball was played out to Sagna from midfield, his cross was met by the flying Dutchman for the second time after a fortunate deflection from King and he guided the ball home.
Assou-Ekotto's comical reaction to the referee allowing play to continue after his foul on Sagna gave the Arsenal full back an open space to run into and the resulting goal left Spurs dead and buried.
Tottenham's full backs had been picked out as major weak spots in the run up to this encounter, and their poor performances against the Gunners will have done nothing for their flagging reputations.
In truth, they are both of Premiership standard, but there is a big difference between being an also-ran and being of title challenging quality in the EPL.
If Spurs are ever to make more progress under Redknapp, these two positions are vital. You won't win a match alone with a great full back, but you will definitely lose the game with a poor one.
Another area where Arsenal's dominance was dramatic is central midfield. Fabregas is playing brilliant football at the moment and is easily one of the best midfielders in Europe. He is ably backed by Alex Song and Abou Diaby, who are both effective players.
For Spurs, you have Wilson Palacios. The Honduran is very good, but he is alone in there, especially when it comes to the trench warfare of top four football.
Jenas and Huddlestone just aren't up to this level, and it is easy to see why Spurs are tracking Brazilian international Sandro.
With Arsenal three up Spurs threw in the towel, and the Gunners simply controlled the rest of the game.
The win means that Arsene Wenger gained his 1,000th point as Arsenal manager, a brilliant record over his 13 years in charge. And it extended their run against the old enemy to 20 years without a league defeat.
Their fans cheered every pass, and at one stage it looked as if they were going to score another three as a demoralised Spurs learned that there are consequences to "poking a beehive."
In the run up to this game both the Spurs captain, Robbie Keane, and their manager, Harry Redknapp, spoke out on how they had "a better squad than Arsenal" and of how Arsenal were "not of title challenging material."
This performance by the Gunners simply made their comments out to be foolish and idiotic in the extreme.
From the sublime Cesc Fabregas in central midfield, to the superb fullback performances of Sagna and Clichy, to van Persie's lethal movement and finishing, Arsenal were better than Spurs in every department.
The moral of the defeat for Harry, Robbie, and Spurs is don't make huge statements until you're in a position to back them up.
To rub salt into the wounds, Keane was substituted in the 65th minute after his abject performance. Let's just say the Arsenal fans jeered him off the pitch...
Spurs have improved immensely in the year since Harry Redknapp first took over, but they are still miles from challenging the likes of Arsenal, and on this performance, they have some way to go.

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