How can you explain what happened in
this North London derby ? A match that for 45 minutes, Spurs
seemed to have the upper hand, but then a late first half equaliser
turned the game in the visitors favour.
It was a game full of incident,
inconsistent refereeing, goals and deception. All the
ingredients of a good thriller.
while the Spurs fans might have left thinking they should have had a
point, it was some defensive lapses that let the side down. From
being an ultra-defensive team to one that scores and leaks goals is
some leap of faith, but with Tottenham, such step changes in fortune
have become boringly familiar.
the off, Spurs tore into Arsenal, with Brown getting under the feet of
Vieira, much to the lanky Gooner's annoyance (although the ref seemed
to think the Sengalese midfielder's moaning was OK by him).
White shirts shut down the red ones quickly and passed the ball well
when they had it. It was fast and furious, but then, what North
London derby isn't ?
chance saw Defoe set up Mendes at the far post, where he hit a volley
into the ground and Lehmann's arms, while good runs down the flanks
opened Arsenal up, but the final ball was lacking. A Carrick
volley went weakly wide, while Bergkamp twice missed the target with
volleys. Spurs had exploited the lack of cohesion between the
Arsenal back four and tried to test Lehmann, but they failed to do so
and Arsenal's breaks found the assistant referee caught out not in
line with the last man, resulting in Ljungberg getting away to ping a
ball across the face of goal, with no team-mate there to put it in.
from a left wing free-kick, Tottenham took a deserved lead.
Carrick floated it in and as Vieira jumped under it, Naybet was
stationed at the far post to drive a shot past the keeper and two
defenders on the line. It was more than we could have hoped for
before the start, but this game had hardly warmed up at this
stage. Tottenham almost took a 2-0 lead when another free-kick,
this time from Ziegler on the right, found Defoe's head and his flick
made Lehmann stretch to just manage to tip it over the top.
Then, just as it looked like a lead would be Tottenham's reward at the
break, Lauren floated a ball into the Spurs box from the right and
Henry took the ball down and as King and Robinson closed in, it was
poked through and slowly into the net.
was not a fair reflection of the game, with it being Arsenal's first
shot on target, but it should have been a wake up call to the team and
when they came out for the second half, they should have been fired up
by Jol's half time team talk. However, they came out cold and
got caught out. Straight away, a ball into the Spurs area saw
the defender's miss their kick and the ball fall to Reyes, who hit his
shot at Robinson from two yards out. Cygan snuck in twice at the
far post as corners travelled right across the area and then a comedy
of errors left Spurs supporters feeling less than happy. 54
minutes gone and Robinson takes a ball in his penalty box. As he
looked to release the ball, King took the ball out of his hands and
the ball fell to Ljungberg, who (unsurprisingly) went down under
challenge from Pamarot and the ref immediately pointed to the
spot. Lauren stepped up to stick away the penalty and Spurs were
Tottenham tried to hit
back straight away and Jermain ran at the defence and hit s shot that
hit the side-netting, before Michael Brown got a yellow card for
Vieira nagging the ref about tackles on him. It is quite amazing
that the refs display a level of inconsistency that they do and
nothing is done about it. Lauren had committed two poor tackles
within a couple of minutes in the first half without caution and then
raced over to the crowd when he scored, but also did not receive a
yellow card ... unlike Naybet, who's celebrations brought the flashing
of yellow by match official Bennett.
looked as though nobody could touch Vieira after that. Or so it
would have seemed from a burst through the Spurs midfield in the 60th
minute. Three players missed tackles on him, leaving a clear run
through on Robinson and the ball was lifted over him to make it
1-3. The two-goal lead didn't last long, as Defoe took the ball
from the kick off and making a direct run in the inside left channel,
he left defenders in his wake and hit s hot that Lehmann didn't even
move for. 2-3 and all to play for again.
for seven minutes anyway !! What should have been a routine
clearance for Reto Ziegler, saw him hang onto the ball a bit too long
and the kick was blocked, fed across the face of the area to Ljungberg,
who shot over Robbo from eight yards and it was 2-4. Another
five minutes, another goal. With Lauren (again) taking Defoe
late, Spurs got a free-kick on the left touchline. Carrick
floated it into area around the penalty spot and Ledley King rose to
nod it past Lehmann, who was badly positioned and really should have
Robinson was alert to
an in-swinging Henry free-kick and touched it wide, but he couldn't
stop the fifth Arsenal goal. It was another that could have been
avoided and when a great block stopped Henry grabbing the goal just
inside the 'D', the ball dropped for a red shirt, was played wide to
Pires on the left and Pamarot failed to close him down quickly enough,
allowing him to nip past and slot the ball home beating Paul at his
near post. It was a sloppy goal and Pamarot had a poor second
half, perhaps suffering after giving away the penalty.
time running out, Tottenham threw players forward, including Fredi
Kanoute, who replaced Michael Brown, who had given his all for the
cause. Ziegler picked up Henry's loose pass and dinked a
delightful ball into to the penalty spot, where Kanoute arrived to
stick out a long leg and divert the ball past the keeper as he came
out. As the four minutes of added time ticked away (which might
not have covered the three minutes it took Reyes to leave the field
when subbed, as Mendes raced past him for the same reason at the same
time), the pressure built on the Arsenal back four and they cleared
the ball anywhere away from goal. One such clearance fell on the
edge of the area and as Simon Davies rushed onto it, he was closed
down and his shot flew wide.
was a match very reminiscent of those in the 1950s and 1960s that
ended up goal-heavy, but with some more concentration, Spurs might
have walked away with something from this game. And it might
have been more than one point too, as Arsenal seemed to be outfought
in the first half. If only Tottenham could have kept that going.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN