Written by Mean Lean on Sunday, 18 November 2012 02:00
I am starting to really appreciate our little plucky neighbours from down the road. When you are low on confidence, things are not going right or you generally need a pick me up then just invite those lot round and after 90 minutes of playing around, life just feels so much better afterwards.
I wonder what the odds would have been for us to reproduce last season's result against Tottenham. There were no surprises in the Arsenal line up and as usual all the injured Tottenham players appeared in the starting line up.
I loved Bacary Sagna totally ignoring Emmanuel Adebayor in the tunnel and rightly so. I wonder what his reasons were as only moments later he gave William Gallas a big hug.
Tottenham started brighter than us, we looked nervous and cagey. What our defenders were doing for the Tottenham goal, I will never know. Jan Vertonghen was allowed far too much time to stride forward and loft his pass over the top, half of our defenders ran out to play offside while Koscielny stuck with Adebayor playing their forwards onside.
Jermaine Defoe ran in behind and he shot off the palm of Szczesny and into the path of Emmanuel Adebayor to tap in from close range. Thomas Vermaelen may have got back to challenge but had stopped running for some reason when Defoe had shot.
Watching Adebayor run around behind the advertising boards and then dance made me sick to my stomach.
Luckily for us, Emmanuel Adebayor has somewhat of a screw loose in that annoying head of his. His challenge on Santi Cazorla was unnecessary and high so his red card was totally deserved. Idiot.
Certainly that was the turning point and we do not know where the game would have gone had he stayed on the pitch given the way Tottenham were playing in the opening exchanges. Before Adebayor's dismissal Aaron Lennon whistled a shot narrowly wide of Szczesny's far post, it just shows you how matches can change on small margins. Had Lennon's strike found the net then Adebayor would not have been in the position to get sent off and we could have all been feeling rather differently today.
As it was an Adebayorless Tottenham handed Arsenal the initiative and we started to play our football again. Per Mertesacker had yet to register his name on the Arsenal goalscorer's list since he joined the club so a goal in the North London derby is as good a time as ever to get amongst the goals. Theo Walcott's cross was perfect, absolutely perfect but it was the step-over to make space for the cross that impressed me most. Gallas stood off the big German to power in a wonderful header into the top corner.
The momentum tilt on both sides was obvious after that goal and we smelt blood. Tottenham looked like a team that had seen this movie before. Lukas Podolski put us in front with a turn a shot that clipped off agent Gallas' heal and bobbled past Hugo Lloris before Oliver Giroud scored our third at the near post. Oliver Giroud is a proper striker who loves the near post it seems. Many of his goals have been in that position. It was all Santi Cazorla's work to set him up though. He collected the ball in midfield and drove at the Tottenham penalty box, he was fouled on the way but bounced back on his feet and continued on his travels. Many would have stayed down and waited for the free kick but not Santi. His left footed low cross found the outstretched left foot of Giroud and his impressive run of goals continues.
It is utterly amazing that Giroud was written off and labelled a flop after a handful of games. Giroud is coming into his own now, winning pretty much everything in the air, linking with his team mates and showing composure for his goals. He could have scored another after a Sagna cross found his powerful header but his countryman Lloris was equal to the effort.
I am loving this new dimension to our game, a dimension that we probably have never seen in Arsene Wenger's reign. It certainly makes us a much more unpredictable team and that can only be a good thing.
After half time the next goal was always going to be very important given our recent habit of throwing away leads. Tottenham had started the second half as they did the first, stronger. But it was Arsenal that punished poor defending. Giroud towered above his marker to win a header in the middle of the pitch, Theo Walcott who had abandoned his right forward spot collected it on the inside left and he fed a motoring Podolski, the German who has already shown excellent quality for the low ball in the box found an unmarked Santi Cazorla to slot in at the far post. Who said this derby stuff was difficult? All three new boys all scoring in their first match against the old enemy.
Santi Cazorla who had lost a bit in recent weeks was back to his best yesterday. I just love watching him play and the way he makes everything look so simple. Wilshere mentioned it recently but he doesn't just pass the ball to his team mates, he serves every pass up with its own unique identity. He plays with his own built in x button, passes are nearly always weighted to perfection regardless of the pressure he is under before making it.
At 4-1 up we should have been home and dry and I guess we were in the end but it felt differently when Gareth Bale having absolutely no joy once again from Sagna moved into a central position in far too much space he drove at the edge of our box, his right footed strike found the corner and I for one noticed the warmth and smell in my underwear. It felt like one of those come back moments and perhaps recent memories are playing tricks on me.
Moments later Bale found his way into our penalty area and drove just past the post as Lennon had done in the first half. Jermaine Defoe wasn't best pleased but we certainly were. I don't want to imagine how the rest of the game would have felt like that gone in. What was pleasing though was the way from that point onwards that we used our brains and took the sting out of the game completely. Passing the ball around and keeping it away from Tottenham. They had their chance to get back in the game and we were not going to let them have another bite of the cherry.
Chamberlain came on and raced into the box late on, he lifted up his head and picked out Theo who had replaced Giroud as the center forward and his finish was clean and well executed for a repeat score line of last season.
Theo Walcott's performances both please and sadden me right now. From what we have seen this season he is starting to look like the player I thought he would become in time once he puts his game together. Not the most talented player in the world not the most skilful but one of the most effective. He is not making mistakes of yesteryear at least not so far. He is not running into defenders, he is not misplacing so many passes and is not ballooning crosses over everyone's head and out for throw in's. He is doing all the basics right and is scoring and assisting for fun. I am pleased that he is reaching his potential but very sad that it looks like it could be without us.
Anyway, the end result was very pleasing and a number of players played very well. This was the game that gave us a great platform last season, if we can do that again this time then this could well be the most important victory of the season to date.
Manchester United losing at Norwich after the International break ey? Chelsea also failing to beat West Brom. It has made for a rather interesting week of football but the key is we improve on our weak points, mainly defensively and continue to score goals like we have done recently.
Anyway got to get ready for my daughters kids party, the parents are expected to turn up at around 5-2. Boom boom.
Well done the Arsenal.
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