Underdog Arsenal Match Report: Tail Between Legs

October 2, 2011 — by Rob Kirby


If you write an optimistic match preview and it just doesn’t pan out, it’s never fun writing the post-match report. Such are the perils of wishful thinking. You have to walk back to the discussion with tail firmly between legs, no one’s fault but your own.

Kyle Walker proves the match winner.

Put simply, Tottenham earned the 2-1 win today, not only because Arsenal’s defense was again found lacking but because the attack didn’t have nearly enough attack in it. Van Persie didn’t get adequate service, Walcott, Gervinho and Arshavin were flat, and the midfield opposition repeatedly outmatched Arteta and Ramsey.

That said, as much as it’ll make a bad week for any interactions with Tottenham supporters, it was no mauling. At 1-1, losing was not a foregone conclusion. Tottenham were the better team on the day, but one would hardly herald them as the new Barcelona. As for individual or collective errors, none came close to catastrophic shake-one’s-head moments on the order of calamities past.

On the positive side, Song, Szczesny and Coquelin all acquitted themselves well. Before a month ago, few Gunners would even have recognized the last name in that trio, but the Academy product never looked inexperienced or out of his depth. In Song, Frimpong and Coquelin, we have three solid defensive midfielders, all brought through the ranks of the youth system. And during a time when we only have one fit central defender, Song slotted in seamlessly and didn’t look like a man played out of position.

Ramsey did not quite resemble the crafty creative midfielder who captains Wales, but he scored well, although Song deserves the majority of the credit for a point-perfect cross.

Arteta’s pace underwhelmed and he stayed pretty anonymous, but I chalk it up to an off day. I saw nothing that for me spelled doom, in his performance or anyone else’s. If one compares today’s match to those against Manchester United, Blackburn or Newcastle, one has to admit improvement, even if the failings are all too familiar and continue to rankle.

Going forward, I would really like to see van Persie partnered up front in a 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1, however you choose to call it). Not saying forever ditch the 4-3-3, but switch it up more.

I understand Wenger’s decision not to play Oxlade-Chamberlain or Miyaichi in a contentious away match like the North London derby, but I’d like to see more of them, and Park as well. When Walcott, Gervinho and Arshavin look flat on the day, bring out youth wingers with speed.

Overall, losing (particularly to Tottenham) is a total drag, and not at all what the team needed, but compared to some of the disappointments of the recent past, it’s not the end of the world. Seeing Sagna stretchered off the pitch, to me, was far and away the true casualty of the day. Arsenal can bounce back. Arsenal will bounce back. (Delusions sometimes never die.)

And Adebayor didn’t score, so prediction wrong on that count. Plus, he comported himself well. All things considered, this is an incarnation of the lanky one I can deal with.




Do Arsenal Continue Beating Spurs?

November 19, 2010 — by Tyler2

Notes from our Arsenal-supporting contingent, lead by the generally unruly but always introspective Tyler Carpenter.

The derby? Impossible to predict a scoreline. Position-wise the teams are mostly even, but Arsenal should win at home. The battle will be won at midfield, and I feel that finally-approaching-form Cesc could be the decider. But the mouth-watering matchup is Gunners’ right vs. Spurs’ left. Will Sagna be able to make deep runs and still track back to defend Bale? Arsenal’s right back has the speed, but can anyone defend Bale Kong?

And who should defend Rafael Van der Goal? The ’85 Chicago Bears? (Yes children, this link brings you to the Superbowl Shuffle)

Arsenal wins Draws Spurs wins Arsenal goals Spurs goals
League 61 42 46 234 202
FA Cup 3 0 2 7 5
League Cup 7 3 3 19 16
Charity Shield 0 1 0 0 0
Total 71 46 51 260 223

I remember this fixture last year: van Persie intercepting the Spurs’ kickoff after an Arsenal goal. Robin gave a quick pass to Cesc, who took it singlehandly, 50+ yards, and put it in the still-warm net. Nice!


Why I Hate Arsenal

November 18, 2010 — by John Lally2

It’s coming you know.  I’ve been trying not to think about it, but now it’s unavoidable. The North London Derby is this Saturday (7:45am ET, ESPN2).  Some Spurs fans look forward to this match in the fixture list, some of us dread it – I’m very much in the latter group.

It’s hard to decide which one I fear more: the away fixture, where, in all likelihood, we’ll lose; or the home fixture, which brings with it the pain of hope.  This week, the game is at the Emirates, a stadium we have never won at. Our record is worse than that though – Spurs haven’t won away at Arsenal since May 1993, when I was 11 years old.   That game came a month after we had lost the F.A. Cup Semi-Final to our arch-rivals and they rested players ahead of the Cup Final.  Last year, we finally beat Arsenal in the league at home, but still finished below them.  It has been years and years of being overshadowed by them.  We just can’t win – even when we do win, we end up losing overall anyway.

The rivalry started in 1913, when Woolwich Arsenal moved (invaded!) North London, and got more bitter in 1919, when a vote saw Arsenal elected to the First Division, having finished 6th in the old Second Division, with Spurs relegated, after finishing 20th in the top flight.  Nearly a century later, both sides still hate each other.  Sure, I have friends who are Arsenal fans, but there will always be that divide when the conversation turns to football.  When former Arsenal player Theirry Henry was making his debut for the New York Red Bulls, he described his first opponents, Tottenham, as “a team I will not even name, that’s how much of a rivalry it is”. I couldn’t agree more –  I  only just about cheered Spurs that night more than I jeered Henry.

Honestly, I just hate Arsenal.  I hate playing them, cos we normally lose.  And if we win, I’ll be inundated with e-mails from Arsenal fans with pictures of the “Commerative DVD” Spurs release to celebrate winning a game.

I hate the fact that as we get closer to the game, our players, managers and my fellow fans, will be saying about how we can finally “make the step up” or “overtake” Arsenal.  That players such as Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart are evidence that we can really take the game to them this time.  Suddenly we forget that our defence is so porous, we conceded four goals against a mediocre Bolton team in our last away game, so goodness knows how many Arsenal could put past us.

I hate that their fans celebrate St. Totteringham’s day every year, to recognise the point where Spurs can no longer mathematically catch Arsenal in the league. I hate that they’ve been celebrating that day every year in recent history.  I hate their stadium and the terrible atmosphere they have in 2/3rds of their home games.  I hate it when they win, I love it when they lose.  My second favourite team is whoever is playing Arsenal, even when it’s Chelsea or West Ham.  I hate Wenger, Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin, Campbell, Toure, Henry, Ian Wright,  George Graham and everyone else associated with the club.  I hate that they are now lauded as playing some of the best football in Europe, when for years it was “Boring, Boring Arsenal”.  I hate the begrudging respect I have for pretty much everyone I listed there as being talented.  I hate that Spurs constantly measure themselves against Arsenal, and come up short all the time.

What I really hate, though, is that I care about this fixture so much.  It will bother me all weekend, and most of next week, if/when we get thrashed - but why?  When we play against Manchester United, I know the inevitable outcome.  We haven’t beaten any of the “Big 4” of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea away from home in the league since 1993, we’re not going to start this weekend.  Why do I get my hopes up?

The Pacific Ocean? That’s just a shitty pipe dream.

But hey, Andy Dufresne found his freedom through a shitty pipe…dammit, there’s that hope again.