Monday, 27 February 2012

Spuds mashed by magnificent Arsenal

Ar5enal 5- 2 5pur2

Isn't that what we all needed? Us Arsenal fans have been crying out for something to shout and cheer about this season, a season that has included disenchantment amongst some of us, a sense of pessimism and also a sense of worry at our North London neighbours over- taking us.

But yesterday we recieved a great tonic for all that, as well as having our doubt raised about whether or not Tottenham are actually better than us. Yesterday's game is evidence to the contrary. Yes, Arsenal started off sloppily and the defending for their first goal wouldn't look out of place in an under 12's Sunday junior league match. But Arsenal were such a force going forward. The crowd were roaring the team on, the team attacked with such style, directness and pace, and it was too much for Tottenham. They couldn't live with the passing, the movement, the counter- attacking and the deadly finishing. And, to be fair, Arsenal did tighten up more and more as the game went on. We looked shaky at the back in the first half as we were gambling too many players forward and getting caught on the counter attack. But that stopped after we got our first goal. Thomas Vermaelen was immense at the back alongside Laurent Koscielny, who was also a rock.

What impressed me most about Arsenal was the way we harassed Tottenham when they were on the ball. Every time Modric got on the ball, at least one of Arteta, Song and Rosicky were on him like a flash, and often won the ball off him. It wasn't just Modric, we did it to every player, even the defenders. Pushing them up high and closing them down with such aggression and spirit. It was fantastic to see and the only question left to ask is: why don't we see this more often? It was very Barcelona- like, as they like to push the opposition as far back as they can by closing them down high up the pitch and Arsenal did that yesterday to a huge effect.

This attitude to defending should be implemented every game, whether we're playing Tottenham, Liverpool or anyone else. It was brilliant and it suits the way we play.

So, does the win mean we're better than Tottenham? Maybe. It's probably too soon to answer that for sure, but I think the two teams are very close, a lot closer than most people thought before Sunday's game. Let's not forget that Arsenal have had Jack Wilshere missing all season through injury. He is to Arsenal what Modric is to Tottenham. I think the fact that they are above us in the table probably suggests they just edge it, but I'm not so sure. Don't forget, we've had Sagna out for four months, Gibbs and Santos (both our left backs) have missed large chunks of the season, Vermaelen's missed a decent amount of games and hasn't played with Koscielny anywhere near as much as we'd have liked. So our defence has been torn all over the place by injuries all season, and I think this has contributed largely to Arsenal being below Tottenham in the table. As has our uncertain start to the season when we lost Fabregas and Nasri and hardly had any players when facing Liverpool and Man Utd. So the kings of North London remains a complex subject, but yesterday's win was good evidence that that title is still ours.

On a personal note, I cut my finger yesterday celebrating one of the goals, I think it was the fourth. I managed to jump so high that I punched the ceiling, and yes, the ceiling's OK. I also kissed my sister on the nose (ewww!) when she walked in as I was celebrating one of the goals. It' funny what sheer elation can do!

What a win, what a day. And this is the first time in a while that we've won the last North London derby of the season, so we have bragging rights until next season. 3 points down, 7 to go. We're coming Tottenham!

Match Ratings:

Szczesny 7
Sagna 8
Koscielny 8
Vermaelen 9
Gibbs 7 (Would have been an 8, but he was mainly at fault for their 1st goal)
Rosicky 9 (MOTM- his best game for Arsenal in a long time)
Arteta 9
Song 9 (A class act after a dodgy first 10 minutes. A rock, as well as such a creative force)
Walcott 8
Van Persie 9
Benayoun 8

Jenkinson 7
Chamberlain 6
Gervinho 6

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