i’m going to try something new today. something i’ve never done before, but have always wanted to try. i’m going to do a live blog of the first north london derby of the season! (yes, i do realize that i’m totally ripping of bill simmons here… inspiration is the word i would use to describe it).
this is a particularly interesting derby today, as tottenham and arsenal are both even on points going into the game and are fighting it out for a champions league place. arsenal’s on a dip in form lately, allowing the opposition to come back and draw from 2-nil down each of their last two games. while tottenham are coming off an embarrassing home loss to stoke last weekend.
a bit of a psychological game has played between the teams in this week leading up to the match, with the most infamous coming from spurs’ robbie keane. the irishman boasted that he thinks the teams are now level on talent, and that his side are “deeper” than the gunners. really robbie, have you had one too many guinesses lately? i hope you didn’t just jinx it.
4 min: tottenham look sloppy. the continued absence of modric worries me, as we need his creativity and midfield presence. and they’re making a big deal about david bentley getting “earning” his first league start of the year after a good midweek performance in the carling cup. he only “earned” it because aaron lennon is hurt.
8 min: bentley was lucky to not have a yellow card for his challenge on vermaelen. definitely in late, not to mention that he had a clear hand ball just minutes ago. not making the most of his first start in the EPL this year.
13 min: arsenal have looked dangerous going forward the last few minutes. bendtner blew an open opportunity first by blasting over the bar (shocking), arshavin keeps finding and uncomfortable amounts of space (he doesn’t need much), and clichy picked off a pass at midfield and spearheaded a dangerous drive ending in a shot on target by arshavin. open/attacking tottenham = exposed in the back tottenham.
20 min: HUGE SAVE by gomes on a fabregas shot from close range. and i didn’t think he should be playing over cudiccini. he proved me wrong in his re-debut against portsmouth, it looks like he’s doing it again today. so far.
26 min: another failed spurs attack is making me realize that tottenham could really use lennon’s pace and creativity today. bentley is looking like the benchwarmer he has developed into. his “world class” crossing that he made his name with has been non existent, and he’s not done anything to impress as of yet.
28 min: terrible clearance out of the back by assou-ekotto falls right to fabregas at the top of the box. my man crush plays a smart slotted ball to van persie breaking behind the backline onside in the box. thank god van persie doesn’t know how to use his right boot, as he slumps it well inside the near post with his left at an awkward angle. it’s things like that awful shot that don’t have me convinced that robin is as good as everyone thinks he is.
35 min: great throughball to bentley from huddleston, and he puts in a decent ball to crouch. vermaelan breaks it up with a brilliant sliding tackle. best tottenham attack so far.
37 min – SUBSTITUTION: bendtner makes way for eduardo. the big dane has been largely innefective anyway, so probably a convenient time for him to pull his groin and get off the pitch.
42 min – GOAL – spurs 0 arsenal 1: clinical finish by van persie for his fifth goal in the last five games. he just beat ledley king to the ball by a fraction to poke it past gomes.
43 min – GOAL – spurs 0 arsenal 2: more tottenham misery. fabregas picks off a pass straight off the restart and runs the length of the half and has a classy finish past the brazillian keeper to put spurs two down. that’s a freaking huge hole to dig out of really fast.
half time: tottenham have lacked their offensive spark in the first half, and are definitely missing the injured lennon and modric and the suspended defoe. arsenal are playing well, with fabregas the star of the show once again. what a horrid way to end the half too for tottenham. two quick goals before half time has to give the gunners the mental advantage going into the break. hopefully robbie keane should be eating his own words at half time. see i knew he was jinxing it all like a jerk.
53 min: both teams have come out roaring, but again, arsenal have had the better of the opportunities. eduardo had a nice break through, but gomes was able to make a good save on the brazi… i mean croatian.
55 min – SUBSTITUTION: my boy gareth bale makes it into the match, coming on for huddleston. that’s a surprising sub by ‘arry. i would have expected kranjcar to come on instead.
57 min: what timing for bale to come on, with a nice opportunity for him to hit a left footed free kick just outside the arsenal box. he instead runs over the ball and let’s bentley have a go. it’s a nice hit and almunia is forced into a save for a corner. good stuff from the yids.
59 min – GOAL – spurs 0 arsenal 3: everyone (and i mean everyone on both sides of the ball) stops as the linesman waves for a foul by tottenham. referee clattenburg instead decides to let play continue. gallas starts running again as the entire spurs backline is still standing waiting for the whistle, and gallas finds van persie for another poke in goal. unfortunate.
64 min – SUBSTITUTION: keane comes off for pavylechenko… great now the spurs have absolutely no pace up front. i better get used to watching long balls from spurs for the rest of this game.
66 min: eduardo clean in with miles of space. gomes charges to edge of his box and then some, and forces eduardo into a long shot. which he misses. mercifully.
70 min: here come the olés from the arsenal fans… i think arsenal just strung at least 25 passes straight without spur touching the ball.
74 min: they just showed a shot of wenger slamming his sport coat down on the bench, pissed off about something his team had just done. what the hell is he so upset about!? his team is 3-0 up against their biggest rival and are dominating. i know he’s a perfectionist and all, but come on dude. calm down.
77 min: vermaelen is unfairly given a yellow. unlucky for him as he’s had a nice game. unlucky for me, because he’s on my fantasy team. damn.
79 min: wilson palacios fouls fabregas out by the touchline. i think it’s the first time today that i’ve even noticed palacios on the field. he’s done a terrible job of trying to clamp down on cesc, as the spaniard has run the show today. speaking of which, i haven’t seen the other spurs central midfielder, jenas, contribute at all yet either. why haven’t we seen niko kranjcar come on for jenas at all yet?
85 min – SUBSTITUTIONS: instead of putting on someone with some offense in them, we’re seeing them pull out a defender (corluka) for the most accident prone player on tottenham, alan hutton. he’s also a defender; i don’t get this sub either. why is niko still on the bench!?!?!?!? young gooner aaron ramsey just came on for van persie. let’s see if the youngster can impress.
89 min: bentley makes a nice dummy run over the ball, expecting hutton to making an overlap run up the right to pick up the loose ball. nope, hutton is about 5 seconds behind the play and barely makes it there and gives up a throw. we put in a defender in the last 5 minutes when we’re 2-nil down and he isn’t even pressing forward? frustrating. hutton drives me insane.
93 min: another break for the gunners up the right flank to ramsey, and the chasing bassong pulls up with a hamstring injury just outside the box. thank god hutton isn’t playing offense, as he his able to pick of ramsey’s pass to eduardo at the last second. but bassong is still down and is going to have to come out. when it rains, it pours.
final whistle: tottenham looked shaky all game, and the 3-0 loss is befitting of their performance. a rough result for the spurs for sure. i hate the way we play with crouch in the line up. there’s no possession up front at all. most times they just lob the ball long to him up front, and hope for him to head it on to someone running through. problem is, that’s not keane’s thing as he likes to sit in behind a running striker like defoe. of course, then they sub the player out who is supposed to be running through for another tall striker. harry’s subbing today was puzzling, and i think it hurt the team.
arsenal, however, looked like a team that could challenge for the premier league title this season. fabregas and van persie both produced and played well. arshavin was ever present and dangerous. and they dominated possession, especially in the second half with the showers of olés from the home supporters.
long story short, arsenal were the better squad today. tottenham were clearly not an equal team today, and keane needs to learn to do his talking on the pitch. spurs are coming back down to earth now it seems.
man of the match: fabregas for sure. he pulled all the strings for the gunners today. and his goal today was simply amazing. job well done cesc.