|OPPONENTS||Arsenal at Wembley|
|DATE||Saturday 2nd March 2019|
So, after two disappointing games, what could be better than a visit
from Arsenal to put things right
The need to get straight back on the bike comes only three days
after a lacklustre (to put it mildly) performance against Chelsea
and with the Gooners hitting a bit of form, a more gentle
re-introduction into winning ways might have been preferable.
But, you can only play what's in front of you and Spurs need to play
Arsenal and turn up for the match.
Winning 5-1 at home to Bournemouth and to Southampton 2-0 might not give a challenging preparation for this match and their results have more or less gone the way you might expect except a win over Chelsea and a defeat by West Ham. iArsenal's defence is their weakness, with Cech and Leno trying to make up for the errors of the back four. They like to play out from the back, but have a habit of giving the ball away and Mustafi is the worst culprit. Koscielny is also culpable, while Sokratis hasn't yet worked out what a fair tackle is, so results to gamesmanship to try and better an opponent. Kolasinac on the other side of the defence has been getting better reviews, but can often get caught too far upfield. Nacho Monreal is a left back who has been inconsistent over the years he has played in the Arsenal back four.
Arsenal have brought through some youngsters, with Niles-Barkley being the focus of some crazy claims, with Iwobi and Guendouzi big on style without too much substance to their application on the pitch and Eddie Nicotine on fire in the Under-23s, but not in the first eleven. Emile Smith Rowe could form most of the back four on his own, but he is out on a loan.
The bulk of their goals come from big money signings Hackney Gazette and Pierre-Evostik Aubergine, which you would expect, before you drop down to Micky Tarian and Osol. Their midfield are mostly grafters, with the new signing from Barcelona Denis Suarez not quite the player from Catalunya that the Gooners fans might have hoped for. Ramsey will try and make an impact before he flees the sinking ship and Lucas Torreira will try and make a mark too.
The season's return fixture saw Spurs reduced to fighting them off the pitch, as well as on it, so the League Cup win will be a much better focus, when the visualise what they want from this game. If Vertonghen can't play, it may be a flat back four, whereas the attacking option Jan provided on the left might be replicated by Danny Rose, although he will be a target for Arsenal to stop him getting forward. On our right, Trippier may well pay the price for his performance on Wednesday and Aurier might be called in. Another option is to play Alderweireld, Sanchez and Davies as a three, but I think that will be unlikely considering the recent form and the opposition concerned.
Pochettino said this week that
the team need to enjoy their football again. There would be no
better time for us to enjoy it should they come out of the game with
a win, but, again, a derby with a London side will throw the form
book out the window and it might actually be the day we draw.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks will both have their hip problems assessed late to se eif they can play, but Eric Dier (tonsillitis) and Dele Alli (hamstring) will both miss out.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS :
|Premier League||Kick off 12:30|
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)||
Kane (p) 73m 56s
Ramsey 15m 07s
Lamela (foul on Xhaka) 63
Rose (foul on Leno) 69
Llorente (foul on Koscielny) 84
Mkhitaryan (foul on Kane) 58
Xhaka (dissent) 74
|Crowd : 81,332||Weather : Mild, sunny|
|Referee : Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Gary Beswick; Mr. Adam Nunn|
|Fourth Official : Jon Moss|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the East Stand in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 9 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Arsenal :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Fernando LLORENTE 79 )
10 Harry KANE
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Unai Emery|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Fly Emirates|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Puma|
This North v South London derby was full of blood and thunder and controversy, which is apparently what they should be (according to the media), but slack refereeing allowed it to be like that, with Anthony Taylor becoming the focal point in this draw, when the best referees are not noticed. It all became about him (like it does with most 'Mike Dean matches' as they are becoming known) because of his frighteningly poor performance.
It was with apprehension that I went to the match, coming after two limp performances against Burnley and Chelsea. This was a game we had to get something out of to maintain the gap between us and the chasing pack for third place and as we don't draw, a win it had to be. We kicked off and while we controlled the first ten minutes, Arsenal should have gone ahead in the second minute. Iwobi played a ball into the box from the left wing and it took a deflection that sent it lopping into the middle of the penalty area. Lacazette was there, totally unmarked and twelve yards out, with only Lloris to beat. Snatching at his volley, he managed to get his shot halfway between the goal and the corner flag, as he skewed it so badly, it was hard to believe that we had got away with his slice of luck that he sliced wide.
Pochettino had persevered with Trippier despite his poor performance on Wednesday, with the right wing-back finding large amounts of space on the flank, but whether he lacked confidence or if there were more red shirts than white in the box, he didn't seem to want a first-time cross in, cutting back onto his left foot and then having to lay the ball off. The early signs were that Taylor would not be giving us much and when Rose seemed to be brought down by Mkhitaryan, nothing was given, as was the case when Guendouzi wasn't given a foul on our dead-ball line and sarcastically clapped the linesman. I bet Wilfried Zaha must be fuming.
Space was at a premium and both sides were closing down the man on the ball quickly. When a Spurs attack broke down, nothing looked on, but the clearance was mis-headed down in front of him by Davinson Sanchez to Lacazette, who put the ball through for Ramsey to run from his own half. With Wanyama chasing, he went all the way and Hugo waited to come out, but he was rounded on his right and Victor was just unable to get a challenge in before the ball was slipped into the net. One down and just when things were looking like we would start to get into the game, it all goes belly up.
That all looked to be behind us in the 23rd minute, as a free-kick for a pull on Eriksen was curled into the box by Trippier from the right and Harry Kane rose unmarked to power a header across Leno and into the top corner of the net. The relief was only fleeting, as the linesman raised his flag for offside and the goal was chalked off. There was a lot of scrappy play, partly due to the hurried nature of passes having to be made, but also because there was little time to play or certainty that fouls were to be given. Son lost the ball high up the field and Arsenal broke away, but the Korean got back to win the ball and play it to Hugo. There were less than half-chances for Spurs, with Eriksen shooting wide and Jan winning a header at a free-kick, but it went well wide as he was under the ball. Kieran almost found Kane in the middle with an early low cross, but it was cut out just before it reached him. Jan went the closest so far, with a shot from outside the box to the left of the middle, which went a yard or two wide. Every time Son or Kane got the ball in and around the box, they suddenly found themselves with three red shirts around them, so had little chance to manufacture anything from those situations. Sonny did manage to dribble past three or four men in the box, but there was a fifth to take the ball off him on the edge of the six yard box. Iwobi did the one thing I remember him doing in the game in the 41st minute, when he came in off the left wing to curl a shot at goal that took a slight deflection and Hugo got a good palm to it to push it out to his left. It wasn't a hard save, but one that needed to be saved.
Just before half-time, it looked like Spurs would get level. Kane's perceptive dinked pass over the defence picked out Eriksen unmarked ten yards from goal. He hit the ball on the volley, but Leno was on top of him and stopped his shot. The ball fell for Sissoko, just outside the box and his first time rive was heading in, until the Arsenal keeper changed direction and threw out a strong hand to get the effort over the bar. It was a very good double save and one Spurs might come to rue. That incident was followed by a good ball by Rose into the area producing a chance for Christian, who had his shot blocked, with the rebound falling to Son, but he blazed it over.
At half-time, Clive and Paul Allen talked about their memories of Arsenal matches of the past and both having scored in these games, how we could have done with a goal like theirs. The erratic refereeing was the talk of the half-time, with thoughts about how Pochettino might change things to free up some space for Spurs to play in. It was Arsenal who made the change at the break though, with Guendouzi going off for Torreira coming on to try and beef up their midfield.
The game was a little more open at the start of the second half, but neither team were finding their targets with passes or dead-balls, so nothing of note happened for the first five minutes. Arsenal attacked down their left and Monreal ran free towards the corner before pulling a low ball back to Lacazette, who managed to fire a shot well wide from 10 yards out, more or less in front of goal. It was as bad a miss as his early effort and one he might come to rue later. Xhaka took Sissoko out with a kick to his ankle and it was the third bad foul he had made, but Taylor didn't even think it worth booking him for it on the totting up principle. From Eriksen's free-kick, the ball found its way to the far post, where Toby came in to hit a volley, but it hit the side-netting as he was closed down.
Aubameyang came on for Lacazette and Mkhitaryan was booked for a cynical foul on Kane, as he turned away from the Armenian. Spurs made their own substitution, with an attacking change - Lamela replacing Wanyama. So many times Kane was pulled down by Mustafi or Koscielny when trying to win the ball in the air when it was played up to him and Mustafi was fortunate not to go in the book for a number of challenges. Ironically, Lamela was given a yellow card for a nothing tackle on Xhaka (who rolled over several times), which paled into insignificance compared to some of the fouls Taylor had let go. It was scrappy stuff with Danny Rose blocking a Mkhitaryan shot and Lamela pulling a left foot shot from a central position just wide of Leno's right hand post and then the ball came to Rose in the other box fro Lamela's cross and the ball got away from him, but was there to be won. Leno came out and got a boot in the chest and Danny got a yellow card.
Rose was on the end of some rough stuff as usual, with the end of a mazy dribble through the centre of the pitch ending by being upended by Xhaka (surprised ?) with no free-kick or caution. When the move broke down a straight ball through our defence found Aubameyang, but Sissoko made a great recovery to dispossess him as he got to the penalty area. Two decisions out of keeping with Taylor's performance handed Spurs a way back into the game. Firstly, Sokratis, who sent most of the match on the floor or in the ear of the referee, climbed all over Lamela as he tried to chest it down and then kicked him for good measure, earning a free-kick on the right side. Eriksen played it in with pace and as Harry Kane went to meet it at the far post, Koscielny left it and Mustafi showed no control by barging into the back of the Spurs striker. Amazingly, Taylor pointed to the spot. Amazingly, not because it shouldn't have been a penalty, but because he actually gave it. Replays after the match showed Kane to be offside (along with others), but there was a posting on the Internet of the interpretation of the offside law that implied that the ref had got it spot on, with a foul on an offside player being the first offence as before he is offside, he has to become 'active'.
The usual surrounding of the referee, laying of hands on him and general dissent followed, with Xhaka seeing yellow for his part in it; a soft booking compared to the fouls he had been perpetrating all game. Then Sokratis continued his speciality by bending the ref's ear for a minute, standing right in front of the penalty spot, in an attempt to distract Kane, who was preparing to take it. Harry must have been used to this after having to wait ages to take the penalty against Columbia in the World Cup and when he stepped up, Leno went to his right and the ball was sent into the bottom corner on the other side of the goal. An equaliser and on the balance of play, not undeserved, although Arsenal had clearer cut chances. There was a bit of a scuffle in the net as Kane and Lamela tried to get the ball off Leno, who wanted to waste more time, having started early and having a warning from the referee via Koscielny (for some reason) in the 22nd minute.
Seventeen minutes left and the game could have gone either way. Poch brought on Llorente for Son and within a couple of minutes he had got booked for what was an arm across Xhaka, who has a very low pain tolerance. With a minute left on the clock, Mkhitaryan played a ball into the right channel of the Spurs penalty area and Sanchez was the wrong side of Aubameyang, who ran onto it, going down like he had been tripped, but without Sanchez actually making a challenge. It was a ridiculous decision and one that you could see from a lot further away than the referee was. So, as usual, Arsenal were handed the game on a plate. There would be no coming back from this. So, Aubameyang ran up and shot to Lloris' right, but the penalty was too close to him and Hugo guessed right to push the ball wide. It was played back in and right under the bar Aubameyang looked as though he must score. He hadn't counted on Vertonghen being there and although it looked a tap-in, Jan got back to not only block the ball, but it came off the Arsenal striker and went over from a foot out. After the game, the social media was buzzing that SuperJan had gone into the area before the kick was taken, but if VAR is going to pull back things like this, then nearly every penalty will be re-taken. It was a superb piece of defending and contrasted sharply with the idiocy of Mustafi at the other end.
Five extra minutes was shown on the fourth official's board and the incidents didn't finish there. Kane was clattered again and a free-kick 25 yards out allowed Eriksen to curl it to the right side of the box, where Davinson and Jan both went for it with stretched legs, but couldn't reach it. Arsenal had a late free-kick, but it came to nothing and when Danny Rose went to try and take it away from 20 yards from our goal, Torreiea dived into a reckless challenge with his feet off the floor and one set of studs straight into the middle of Rose's shin. The referee took his time in bringing it out, but he had decided early on that it was going to be a straight red for the impact on Rose's straight leg. It was a shockingly bad tackle and how Arsenal players had the brass neck to complain, I don't know. Habit I suppose.
And that was that. A derby that threatened to boil over as the referee never really had control of the game, while Tottenham had a little more control than Arsenal, who were set up to hit on the break. They got their goal like that but little else and Spurs failed to make the dominance they had in terms of possession pay, but that was because there was so little space to play in, with Arsenal squeezing play. For Spurs, Jan, Toby and Davinson did well at the back, with Sissoko outstanding in midfield as he showed unending energy in chasing back and then taking the ball forward. Trippier had a better game, while Rose is Rose. He keeps going despite all the kicks he gets. Harry didn't look fully fit, but did the necessary and Son worked hard without much reward. Wanyama did OK, but still doesn't look the same player as he did before his injury, while Lamela got his booking and tried to run with the ball. Llorente was the aerial target, but with little time to make an impact and Eriksen kept prompting looking for the killer goal and was unlucky with his shot that Leno blocked.
Keeping Arsenal at arm's length was important with this point, but Manchester United's win over Southampton gets them closer in the table and hopefully we can repeat the dose to the Saints next week. Although a draw broke our undrawn run, a point is better than we had managed in the two games before, so it gets things back in the right direction, but there is a trip to Dortmund before we rejoin Premier League action and it will be interesting to see how Poch plays that one, with a big break after the Southampton match..
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|What you thought|
certain smidgeon of piquancy has been added to this comeback from
behind point and the late penalty save (for a penalty that never
should have been) added to this game, with Arsenal giving it large,
but ultimately not sensible enough to see the game out.
How Xhaka and Mustafi stayed on the pitch is a minor miracle and amongst the erratic refereeing, how many free-kicks weren't given when the stats show there were 29 actually awarded. Taylor is one of our best referees supposedly, but he seems to have caught this "let everything go" bug that started in the Burnley game and you wonder where it will all end. The safety of the player sis the referee's prime reason for being on the pitch and maybe a VAR system without a referee will one day come into fore if they fail to see some of the things going on. Llorente's booking was laughable compared to Xhaka's studs into the back of Kane's knee when he ran away from the Gooner.
But it doesn't really matter. Referees are not accountable to anyone and like Mike Dean not having to reveal what he said to Pochettino, nothing will be done about Taylor's shameful performance and they don't have to explain themselves, so it will just carry on, with fans feeling frustrated on both sides, which probably adds to tensions outside the stadium after the game.
And it doesn't really matter because we got a draw against the Gooners and the tactical master Unai 'Dick' Emery, whose substitution of brining Ozil on paid dividends ... for Spurs. Within two minutes of the German's entrance we were level and the dream of a win in Ramsey's final local derby against us evaporated.
Shame - in every meaning of
the word !
|Benny The Ball||
Hackney Gazette ... Love it ! He really will be tomorrow's
chip wrapper because he should give had Arsenal ahead inside two
minutes and then missed another presentable chance in the
second half. But at least he didn't miss from 12 yards out
with only the keeper to beat.
Arguments about the Spurs penalty being given when Kane was offside have been blown out of the water by weird interpretations of the Laws of the game being posted online and then Vertonghen racing into the area when their penalty was taken and then clearing from the goal-line somehow make the draw all the sweeter, as the Gooners feel some sense of injustice.
And Keown thinking that
Torreira shouldn't have been sent off ! The true Gooner in him
coming out, as that tackle was awful from whatever angle you look at
it. Never mind that he plays for them, anyone who puts a
tackle in like that deserves to be sent off.
Nice to see that Emery wants VAR as soon as possible to clear all
these things up, then perhaps Arsenal's penalty wouldn't have been
awarded, Xhaka would have been sent off and Arsenal's cheating
wouldn't have nearly paid off.
I don't know if referees are letting a lot go because these are derby matches (although that doesn't excuse the Burnley game and Dean's shocking display ... and to think he gets paid for that !), so it will be interesting to see what happens in tomorrow's Chelsea- Fulham and Liverpool-Everton matches.
It would be nice if referees
performances were assessed and reports issued to let fans know what
the assessors see and think of it. I know it won't happen, but
if VAR is going to clear these things up, it will mean that we are
at matches for a lot longer and the officials will be shown up for
not spotting "clear and obvious" incidents.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||1||Huddersfield Town||0||Saturday|
|West Ham United London||2||Newcastle United||0||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||2||Cardiff City||0||Saturday|
|League Table 2018-19|
|9||West Ham United London||29||11||6||12||37||41||39||-3|
|16||Brighton & Hove Albion||28||8||6||14||30||41||30||-11|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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