By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Said it before…when you see Robin hustling and in the mix early…its always a good omen of great things to come from the Dutchman. Today was no exception as he showed nice early hustle and was dropping deep to pick up the ball and get some early touches. He struggled a bit early on with some of his decision making…for example the crappy decision to go for his shot off that Spurs turnover at the edge of their 18 yard box off a poor clearance attempt.
His execution on the shot was heinous and made worse so by the fact he had Bendtner open in the middle of the box. His first goal was not spectacular but showed the gritty side of Robin’s game, a lovely committed run that demonstrated his anticipation and strength as he out battled Ledley King to get his “chocolate leg” on the ball to guide home…SWEETNESS!!.
The second goal showcased another deep and committed run into the Spurs 18 yard box that was rewarded with Sagna’s cross sneaking through Gomes and King for Robin to pounce on…MAGIC!!. Finally served up a delicately weighted through ball for Andriy to run onto that was cut out at the last second by a sliding Corluka…otherwise Arshavin was in clean and free. Great performance Robin!!.
#2. BACARY SAGNA: Probably his best offensive match in The Arsenal kit. He looked sharp coming forward, making nice overlap runs and getting on the end of some nice 1-2’s and through balls. Sent in a lovely quick low cross to surprise the Spurs defenders late in the first half that Robin read well, pounced on and turned in for the critical breakthrough goal.
Followed that up in the second half with a great effort getting forward and onto the end of that through ball that was played to him and keeping his run going when Clattenburg played advantage for us. His snappy, low cross snuck past Gomes and King to pick out Robin to bundle home…game set and match. Turn out the lights. Sagna’s defense was top shelf too…as the back 4 conspired to keep a clean sheet and handle anything Spurs tried to mount on our net. Nice match “Blondie Dread”.
#3. CESC FABREGAS: Was not a consummate 90 minute performance from “El Capitan” but it was electric when we needed it. In the first half he pounced on that deflected Arshavin shot to get off his own cracking shot that was robbed by Gomes at full stretch. Tough luck. And of course he delivered the coup de grace on Spurs with his Maradona-esque 50 yard run as he dribbled through and around 4 Spurs defenders, then showed his icy cold finishing with a calm, heads-up strike into the right corner of the Spurs net past a flailing Gomes…DAGGER!!.
THOMAS VERMAELEN: Did a masterful job handling Peter “Stretch” Crouch all match. It was obvious from the get-go that Spurs felt they had a mismatch that they could exploit via Route One long balls and aerial balls pumped into our box…but “Super-Stella” stood tall and strong and neutralized Crouch very very effectively. His strength and positioning were excellent as evidenced by the fact Crouch got on the end of very few balls and when he did he couldn’t get any power or direction on them.
I thought one of the key points of the match was about half way through the first half with Spurs threatening with Corluka’s deep run down the left flank and the pacy low cross he hammered in towards the open Robbie Keane to tap in for the go ahead goal…when out of nowhere…Vermaelen produced a brilliant sliding tackle to break up the cross by taking it virtually off of Keane’s shoe-tops…WICKED DEFENDING!!
WILLIAM GALLAS: Did a superb job with Vermaelen in neutralizing Peter Crouch and keeping the centre of the pitch clean. Loved how he slapped Crouch around like a $10 dollar whore in the first half…letting him know in no uncertain terms that Crouch was going to have to pay a physical price every time he tried to climb the ladder on those long balls being pumped forward by the brain-dead Spurs back line and midfield. PROPS to Willy “G”.
For the first time in a long time we had a few Lemons today.
Eduardo Da Silva: Completely shit the bed on those two clear cut breakaways he had in the second half. On both of them he had ages of time to pick his spot and think about his stroke…so there really is no excuse for our “Fox In The Box”/”Silent Assassin” other than the fact he choked on both…especially on the second one. That might sound a bit harsh…but that is his bread and butter and what he stakes his reputation on…FINISHING his chances. I am sure he is being hard on himself over those misses. No worries…we got the 3 pts and that is all that matters.
ABOU “THE MANGALORE” DIABY: It is official…this dude is a freaking liability on our squad. He has had a lot of matches at the end of last season and this season to show his progression as a player and I am sorry…it just isn’t happening. Like Senderos, he just isn’t Arsenal quality and hopefully gets moved on this summer, because by next September it is certain that Ramsey, Merida and even Wilshire will have jumped him in the pecking order. Like the saying goes…”the sun don’t shine on a sleeping dogs ass” and he’s been half conscious his entire Gunner career.
I recall early in the second half the ball fell to him in traffic at the top of our 18 yard box with Spurs desperate to find a goal. Instead of doing the safe and intelligent thing…HACKING CLEAR…Diaby decides he is going to try and dribble his way out of trouble…got stripped and damn near gifted Spurs a goal. BRUTAL!. The guy has no sense of game management…period. Later in the match he can’t even get his head onto the end of a free header…let alone direct it on net…Thank God we didn’t need a goal at that point.
ALEXANDRE SONG: He played solid defense…but he too had several moments of insanity a la West Ham that could have cost us goals against. The first was that stupid and ridiculous failed back pass towards Almunia early in the first half that gifted Spurs a corner kick when they hadn’t done anything to threaten our net up to that point. Shortly after that he served up a suicide back pass to Gallas who was the last man back and being closed down by 2 Spurs players as the ball reached him. Gallas was extremely fortunate to smuggle the ball past the 2 Spurs players and out of danger…William could have easily been dispossessed of the ball and a free and clear breakaway gifted to a Spurs team that had mounted no offensive attacks on our net at this point in time.
Later in the first half was another brutal give away in the middle of the pitch while we were transitioning into a counter-attack, Song’s first touch was so heavy…he basically passed it to the Spurs player that was closing him down. Again that came very close to gifting them a free and clear breakaway. Finally there was some silly high risk dribbles that he was damn lucky to bungle past his markers. He needs to keep his game simple a la Mathieu Flamini when he excelled in the CDM role back in 2007-2008.
It is always sweet to beat Tottenham but this win was made even sweeter by all the bogus smack talk us Gooners have had to put up with coming from the mouths of Harry Redknapp, Robbie Keane and the Spuds supporters on the Internet Football threads for the last week. It was a very satisfactory result for us indeed. It gets us off the snide and keeps Spurs on their downward trajectory in the EPL Table (they are 2-4-1 over the last 2 months). More important was the fact our back 4 delivered a great performance and showed that we have the capacity to close out matches after the frustration of giving up late goals to surrender leads to AZ and West Ham.
I didn’t think it was a master-class performance by any stretch of the imagination. We need to improve our passing and ratchet up the intensity for a full 90 minutes. Some important players have been less than influential the last couple of weeks (see Andriy Arshavin) lets hope they can get themselves sorted out quickly. At least with Nasri back and Rosicky close to returning…Arshavin can be given some rest and Diaby can be nailed to the bench. All that said it still was a nice gritty win. Hopefully we can build on this match with solid play and maximum points over the next 4 matches leading into the tilt with Chelsea on November 29. Robin, Cesc, Arshavin, Vermaelen and Gallas have really been carrying the club for the last 2 months…time for some of the others to step up offensively and deliver some goals and take the pressure off the Fab 5.
As always I remain,
GUNS IN GUNS OUT