Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal, March 3, 2013.
So does this result mean our hopes of getting third/fourth are over? Well, no. I grant you it won’t be easy and we’ll need to find some form, but the point is not to mistake this particular battle with one where you’re going for the title. When you’re going for the title one slip can kill you. As we’ve discovered in recent years, the battle for third and fourth is a lot more forgiving of slips.
So what did I think of this game? Well it was a brilliant game, one that reminded me of our 2-1 win over United a few years ago when Nasri scored twice. I know the 5-4s and 7-5s get all the attention, but in a way I think holding them up as the pinnacle of the sport is basically pandering to those people who say they are put off football because there are so few goals in it. Football is not meant to finish 5-4. Two-one is, for me, what it’s all about. Call it the difference between an all-you-can-eat buffet and a perfectly-done steak.
In making this point, I am aware that in all likelihood this is not what you are thinking, that perhaps I am misreading the current mental state of the majority of my audience because the crucial point is, of course, that we lost, which quite understandably will render redundant for many of you any discussion of whether or not it was a good game. It is a fair point.
I thought that on balance it was hard to begrudge Spurs their win. It was one of those where had we equalised, we’d have deserved it but the fact we didn’t meant that on balance they probably deserved it. We’d had more of the play, they’d on balance probably had the better of the chances.
"Football is not meant to finish 5-4. Two-one is, for me, what it’s all about. Call it the difference between an all-you-can-eat buffet and a perfectly-done steak"
I’m not sure the game taught us a great deal we didn’t already know: they’ve beaten us 2-1 at their place a couple of times in recent seasons and so I’m not sure today’s result was anything greatly new. We beat them 5-2 earlier this season (and before anyone goes on about Adebayor’s red card turning the game I’d remind you we’d done it 11 v 11 a few months earlier). Had we been at home today, we may quite easily have beaten them. As it is, they’re on a very decent run of form (seven wins and three draws from 10) and they’ve a forward in flying form and so they came out on top on this particular occasion.
As for their goals, well on the first I thought we were fractionally unlucky: Bale is played onside by Mertesacker but Mertesacker is only where he is because he is tracking Adebayor, who is the furthest player forward. For me that means Adebayor is interfering, but hey ho, these things can go either way. The second was poorer arguably: Monreal went to play offside when he shouldn’t have because his captain was holding a very poor line behind him: had either of the two not screwed up we’d have likely been alright. The brother of Goodplaya lamented the space in midfield Spurs had to drive forward, but I think at a certain point you have to give them some credit.
We came back at them and like the Chelsea game, got a goal. And like the Chelsea game we failed to equalise, though I thought we gave a better stab of it than against Chelsea. What was apparent at times were the all-too-familiar limitations to our squad: Giroud looked very much like the back-up striker with the eternity he took to get his first-half chance away while funny as Wenger may think it to proclaim he has the best player in Africa and has no need for a striker, it ain’t so funny when not even Wenger thinks him worth using when we’re chasing the game.
Goodplaya's dad took him to his first Arsenal game aged seven in October 1989. He's been writing the blog since September 2004 and is a season ticket holder
The first sub was certainly interesting: I think it worked to a small degree, though I also think Jenkinson is a real attacking outlet. Ramsey I thought did pretty well as an advanced right back, particularly seeing as he’d already been booked.
One other thing before I finish: stoppage time. Now I thought the referee had a very decent game on the whole and I’m not for a second arguing we’d have equalised had we played a little longer, but it is nonetheless true that during the six minutes of injury time the ball probably spent more time out of play (often being hoarded by the Spurs fans) than it did in play. That only one extra minute on top was added shows once again that while other sports appear to consider fairly accurate timekeeping as kind of integral, football evidently doesn’t. Odd.
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