- Arsenal boss offers injury update on Cazorla & Giroud
- Ratings: Cech shines but Ozil fails to spark as Arsenal held
- Video: Arsenal 0-0 Boro: Lackluster Gunners drop valuable points
- Teams: Arsenal v Middlesbrough: Cazorla out, Elneny in
- Team news: Wenger’s update on Ramsey, Welbeck, Giroud & Cazorla
- Preview: Arsenal v Boro, team news, line-up & prediction
- [Photos] Arsenal duo step-up injury comebacks in training today
- [Photos] Arsenal boost as injury doubt trains ahead of Boro game
- Arsene Wenger sets comeback date for forgotten Arsenal man
- Arsenal boss confirms fresh injury doubt for Middlesbrough game
Tottensham Revealed! (Highlights and Interview)
Highlights and an interview with Arsene Wenger below.
I am still walking on air following our demolition of Spurs yesterday. With a glorious 3-nil victory at the Emirates we were able to put some breathing space between us and the four clubs trailing us at the moment. The weekend ends with us remaining 5 points behind Chelsea and 3 behind United, albeit with a game in hand, as well as 3 points ahead of Spurs and 4 over Liverpool, Money City, and Villa, with a game in hand on all except City and Villa.
After the match, Harry Redknapp felt that, of Arsenal’s three goals, “there wasn’t a good goal among them.” Nevermind that, the gulf between the clubs was on display for all, including Harry and Robbie Keane, to see. Yes, Spurs were missing Defoe, Lennon, and Modric but we also were missing Rosicky, Walcott, Vela, Wilshere, and Denilson.
If Spurs want to find the culprits for their heavy defeat, they need look no further than their own lack of concentration and Ledley King. King’s performance yesterday showed the dangers of playing a CB in a derby match who does not train and hadn’t played in weeks. King couldn’t deal with van Persie at all, and also struggled to contain Eduardo after he came on for an injured Nicklas Bendtner, who now looks to be out for four weeks with a groin injury.
For the throw-in which led to the first goal, Spurs defense looked like they were all asleep. When Sagna delivered the cross, it was obvious that van Persie wanted to score more than King, or the rest of the Spurs defense, wanted to keep him out. The second goal was made possible by their lack of focus. Depsite having gone down 1-nil, rather than regroup and refocus, Spurs took the kickoff in much the same way they had defended the throw-in and cross just seconds before; flat-footed and uninterested.
Spurs uninterestedness allowed Fabregas the opportunity to express his brilliance once again. Telegraph writer, Henry Winter, is not one who is regularly overcome with a severe case of hyperbole, but Fabregas’s performance on Saturday led to a fantastic article, which lyrically sang his praises. And it was totally justified. Fabregas was magnificent.
Most importantly, the game showed the devastating nature of Arsenal’s attacking potential. Despite coming out strong in the first 5-10 minutes, Spurs were able to keep us from gaining our usual midfield rhythm for much of the rest of the half. A great chance by Fabregas was saved by the outstretched palm of Gomes. But this Arsenal side has become the type of team that can punish defenses for even the most momentary of lapses. You cannot switch off for even a few seconds against Arsenal and expect to not be punished for it.
After the past week, I’m sure most Gooners remained on the edge of their seats as the second half began with a 2-nil lead. However, Arsenal learned their lesson well from West Ham, and on the hour mark, after Mark Clattenburg rightly played advantage following a crunching tackle on Eduardo on the left wing, Robin van Persie got his second of the day.
The third goal was indicative of Spurs performance. Sagna’s cross got through Gomes and King before van Persie deflected it into the net. Gomes, despite making two great saves on Fabregas and Eduardo, remains a train wreck waiting to happen. He failed to get down quick enough to cover his near post on the first goal and, on the third, he pulled a Cudicini/Barthez.
Ledley King is supposed to be a central defender who is so valuable that he doesn’t have to train and can’t play two matches in a row. Well, King looked totally out of his depth on Saturday. He looked slow and lethargic as he was beaten on all three of Arsenal’s goals. He also couldn’t hold or recover from Spurs’ high offside trap when it was exposed twice by Eduardo, who could’ve had a hat-trick if he had finished like his usual self.
From the other side, one of the most impressive things to come from the match was the performance of the defense. When Spurs came out in the second half, they looked determined to exploit Arsenal’s aerial vulnerability by pumping balls up to Peter Crouch. However, the defense, mostly Vermaelen, denied Crouch regularly. At one point, even Clichy won a header off Crouch. The clean sheet was important for a defense that had kept only 2 clean sheets in 9 previous league matches.
The net result of this victory is that the press has returned to grudgingly acknowledging Arsenal as contenders for the league title. Ever since the two defeats at Man City, and including the draw at West Ham, all of which were evidence, said the pundits, that Arsenal are not true challengers, Arsenal have the best record in the league since then. Over the last six games in the league, following the second trip to Manchester, Arsenal have secured 16 out of a possible 18 points; United and Chelsea have 13 and 12, respectively.
The only downside to the day was the fact that just before kickoff Arsenal were drawn away to Money City in the Carling Cup quarterfinals. For me, this was the worst draw we could’ve gotten. Not because I don’t think we can win at City, even though they treat the Carling Cup like the Champions League, but because of all the ridiculous media hoopla that will now surround the match.
Adebayor continues to spout off at the mouth, months later, claiming Cesc will leave if we finish outside the top four, while claiming with a straight face in the very same sentence, “…but my focus is all on City now.” He has also claimed that he apologized to van Persie after kicking him in the face, yet van Persie insists it is not true. He also said that his former teammates ignored him when he tried to say hello to them in the tunnel. But if you watch the match video again, you see all the players shaking his hand and some hugging them after lining up. His stories are more full of more than a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch jeans.
Adebayor’s “focus” is obviously not “all on City now.” Quite the contrary, he just can’t seem to shut up about the Arsenal. The man is obviously obsessed with the club that didn’t need him anymore and that has improved significantly since he left. Perhaps it’s the fact that Arsenal look much stronger without him, or that Arsenal look much better than a City side which struggled for a draw last week against Scunthorpe and has won only 2 of their last 6 league matches. Either way, he’s a jealous cunt.
Manuel Almunia returned to goal and an article in the Mirror suggests that Almunia wasn’t dropped from the team due to his performances, and nor did he have a 6 week chest infection. Rather, Almunia’s mother-in-law was involved in a fatal car crash and Wenger was giving him time to deal with the situation at home. Almunia’s performance yesterday, despite not really being tested, was a good sign and I expect him to keep the number one spot.
All in all, it was another dominant performance at home, where Arsenal secured maximum points, and reasserted our claim as legitimate title contenders along with the lucky United and the soon-to-be thin Chelsea.