Monday, October 3, 2011

Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1

A defeat to Tottenham always hurts. We were unlucky to lose the game and deserved a draw.

The first goal was a handball and Van der Vaart should have been sent off for running into the crowd to celebrate his goal, if not for the deliberate handball. His sending-off would have changed the game completely. But we are used to bad decisions by now, not only this season, but from the latter half of the last season.

The second Tottenham goal was a lucky strike, which reminded me of the winning goal at the same fixture a couple of seasons ago by a young Tottenham player called Rose. Arsenal might have had an answer to that in the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, only if he had been in the squad. I don't know why he wasn't even given a place on the bench. With his current form, he should no doubt have brought a lift to the team, not to mention the crowd.

It is easy to blame the defenders for the frailty of Arsenal's defence, but the team have to defend collectively and that is what is missing in Arsenal's games. Attacking players also need to learn how to defend. Good teams defend together as a pack. The second goal should have been prevented if Gervinho had closed down on Walker.

The two centre-backs at least kept Adebayor quiet (he said before the game that he would not celebrate his goal, but it turned out to be a unnecessary concern because he did not score anyway). Song defended very well, blocking and tackling in the box with discipline. Only his passing let him down.

I am more disappointed with the attacking side of the game. If Walcott wishes to become a central striker, he has to improve his finishing. RVP did not look like an in-form striker yesterday. Gervinho did not take the clear-cut chance, which punished Arsenal in the end. Also, Arsenal couldn't keep the pressure on after they had just scored.

However, it was commendable they did not collapse when Sagna had a bad injury, which has been the case often when the key players had been injured and had to be substituted.

One of the bright spots in this match was Francis Coquelin's performance. He spent a season with Lorient and you can see improvements. He covered the back-four very well, breaking down Tottenham attack in the midfield and his distribution was probably better than Song. For the defensive midfielder position, we now have competition among Song, Coquelin and Frimpong, who was on the bench yesterday. Some say we should have bought Scott Parker in summer, but it would have hampered the progress of these young players.

Overall, Arsenal did well, considering the current situation. The big game came too soon for them.

Hopefully the international break will serve as a welcome distraction to Arsenal's struggling domestic form and the players will move on from the disappointment and come back afresh. By the time the EPL season resumes in two weeks' time, we should have Koscielny (certainly Squillaci as well, if you count him) back with Vermaelen not so far from his return. Arsenal will hopefully embark on winning ways before they visit Stamford Bridge at the end of the month.

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