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.
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.