Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 8th November 2003

What is there to be said about this match at Highbury ?  Spurs can't score and Arsenal are ripping sides apart as they remain unbeaten so far this season.  You would like to think that Spurs would break that run, but without a win in N5 since May 1993 that seems a little unlikely, especially when our main source of goals - Fredi Kanoute - is still out injured.

Having said that some Gooner work colleagues believe that they have problems scoring at home particularly, so they think that it is not such a foregone conclusion that we will get beaten out of sight ... but that's Gooners for you.  The only way that might happen is with Spurs' good defensive record since Pleat took charge leading to the home side becoming frustrated and resorting to a more direct way to goal, which would suit the Tottenham defence.

As far as our team goes, we must hope that both Poyet and Anderton don't feature in the starting XI.  We need energy and dedication in midfield to try and impose our play on the match, even in the absence of Vieira.  As far as the creation in the side goes, it might have to come second to holding the Gooners at a distance from our goal and trust Keller is sound against long range efforts.

It is not going to be pretty and once one goes in I think it will lead to more.  Sadly, it appears this match might be a good case for damage limitation I reckon ... 

PREDICTION : -   Arsenal  3   Tottenham  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


MEHSTG could not get a view from the other side.

Players Unavailable

ARSENAL : -  Patrick Vieira (thigh), Phillipe Senderos (back), Martin Keown (calf), David Bentley (knees), Stuart Taylor (shoulder).

TOTTENHAM : -  Christian Ziege (knee), Simon Davies (hip), Jamie Redknapp (knee), Fredi Kanoute (ankle)

TV :  Canal + in Sweden; Icelandic TV; PPV in USA (10 a.m. EST); Rogers SportsNet in Canada (10.00 a.m.)
Radio :  Live Commentary - BBC Five Live (693/909 MW); TalkSport (1089 MW) in London area only
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    



Arsenal   1     Tottenham   2     (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League
Saturday 8th November 2003
Venue : -  Highbury
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Chilly, dry
Crowd : -  38,101
Referee : -  M. Halsey (Lancs.)
Teams : -  
Arsenal : - Lehmann; Toure, Lauren (Cygan 61), Campbell, Cole; Pires, Ljungberg, Parlour, Gilberto (Bergkamp 61); Henry, Kanu (Edu 83)
Unused subs: Stack, Hoyte

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Gardner, Richards, Taricco; Anderton, King, Dalmat (Ricketts 83), Konchesky (Mabizela 73); Postiga (Zamora, 82), Keane
Unused subs: Burch, Doherty

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Arsenal Tottenham
Scorers : -  
Arsenal  -   Pir
es 69, Ljungberg 79

Tottenham -  Anderton 5

Cards : -  
Arsenal  -  Parlour (foul) 11

Tottenham -  Konchesky (encroachment) 15, Anderton (foul) 21, Richards (foul) 28, Taricco (foul) 50

Expectation is a terrible thing and the expected landslide for the Gooners failed to materialise, but the narrow defeat left me feeling empty inside, with the nature of the performance not getting it's just reward.

Having been ahead to an early goal after Robbie Keane's run was blocked by Lauren and stuck past the keeper by Anderton with a flick of his foot, Spurs kept their nose ahead for more than an hour.  The fourth minute effort was not the only chance Spurs had in the half and Helder Postiga showed how much he needs a goal to boost his confidence when he fluffed two one-on-ones with Lehman.  The first lacked a good touch and the ball ran to the keeper, with the second a better shot, but it was thwarted by the German, when Postiga should have done better.  The first incident was one of many flashpoints that the match threw up, with the Portuguese star catching the goalie on his follow-through and Lehman got away without any punishment for pulling Postiga by the arm as he lay injured on the floor himself.

Parlour was the first booked (and remained the only Gooner to see yellow.  The ref a homer ?  Surely not !) for a late tackle on Tano.  Taricco and Pires had a spat after the French winger had gone down easily (not for the first time in the match), leading to Pires running into the penalty area after Tano.  Taricco eventually got into the book in the second half for a late tackle on Ljungberg.  Kung-Fu Stephen Carr accidentally laid Henry out with a stray arm to the wind-pipe and Keller took the Frenchman out as he raced through from an offside position.  Unfortunately, gullible is the term to apply to ref Halsey, who bought every fall the Arsenal players effected.  This got Taricco booked for Pires running straight into him, Richards was cautioned when he made a legitimate challenge on Henry, albeit a little late, there was no malice and Konchesky was done for racing out of the wall at a free-kick that was then moved less than 10 yards forward, so it wasn't too close for Henry to have a go.  As it was the ball glanced off the top of the bar.

It was the closest Arsenal came to scoring, as Tottenham's approach kept them at arm's length and it was the length of Keller's arm that stopped them equalising when Henry dragged a ball back and around Carr when it looked like it was going out.  His fierce cross-shot was palmed aside by Kasey and he also was required to throw himself full length to stop an earlier 25-yarder along the floor.

The 25th and 41st minute openings for Postiga both resulted from Lauren  back-passes and you were left wondering if he will get clearer opportunities to put one in.  At the other end Gardner was matching Henry for pace and keeping him at bay, while Anderton defended a free-kick well, getting to the ball before Ljungberg. 

The second half was expected to see the home side push the game further up the field to take the initiative and to get back into the game, but the first attack was Tottenham's and King and Dalmat (who had an anonymous game) linked up to try and make a chance for Helder, but it didn't reach him.  Anthony Gardner did the same as Anderton had in the first half, just afterwards with three Gooners closing in on at him at the far post from a corner.

Spurs seemed to have the balance of play in the second half and won four corners in about eight minutes, whereas the first half had passed without one.  Then it happened.  A long ball from Parlour put Henry through, with a hint of offside about his position and his run ended with a shot that Keller saved.  Luckily for the Gooners, it fell to Pires, who slipped the loose ball into an empty net.  Mabizela replaced Konchesky as Pleat tried to shore up the midfield, where Arsenal were now getting more space there.

Then ten minutes after their equaliser, the fickle hand of fate turned to point at Tottenham.  Bergkamp fed Ljungberg and he moved inside to strike a shot that looked comfortable enough to save, until it looped off Carr and left Keller stranded.  All that remained was for Arsenal to take the ball into the corner to run down time and the points were theirs.  

The result didn't reflect the play, as the home team struggled against the hard work put in by Spurs to shut them down and not letting them play.  The chances that slipped away cost us in the end, but the run of the ball was in Arsenal's favour, with their defence looking uneasy against Keane and the midfield finding themselves being out-toughed.  

For all of it, Spurs still come away with nothing.  But the performance was more than I had hoped for before the match, so this much application in the coming months will see us pull away from the bottom teams and establish a reasonable return for the effort put in.  But that is the problem with local derbies ... they are one offs, but let us pray the team's spirit isn't.


Pete Stachio




Arsenal will be Premier League champions this season.  I know you don't want to hear that, but if they get as much good fortune as they did in this match, then they might as well have the trophy now.

Lucky Arsenal ... you bet.  Nothing will convince me that they should have taken any more than a single point from this North London derby and even that should have been beyond them after a first half, when Tottenham played a pressing game that stymied anything the Gooners tried and created chances enough to put the game beyond their reach.

The fact that we didn't is one that means Helder Postiga will need to net soon to make sure he hears that song about him hating the Arsenal again.  His two failed attempts to beat Lehman when through with only the keeper to beat turned out to be the difference between the sides.  For all the possession the home side had, they created little to trouble Spurs unduly with it.  I would have thought that we were in for a torrid time, but the Gooners could not manufacture many direct efforts and when they did, Gardner and Richards broke things up.  If they got past them then Keller was in good form to keep out Henry on two breaks in the first half.  Spurs seemed to be targeting the pacy striker and Richards and Keller both took him out, although the most effective assault on him was accidental, when Carr knocked into his throat and Henry went down like he had been marked too closely by the Boston Strangler !!

Mind you, he was just one who liked to go down as easily as a French Arsenal winger.  Pires flopped to the turf as often as he could and Lehman should have been carded for an assault on Postiga, after his first miss, when he followed through into his leg.  On both occasions, Helder was put in by Lauren, who was awful.  Toure fared little better, with a number of misplaced passes and Scumball didn't look happy at the Arsenal back.  With Keane being pushed out wide quite a lot, there was little direct attack on the defensive line, but a darting run inside the first five minutes, panicked the Arse men.  Lauren got in front of him, but diverted the ball across the six yard box and Anderton nipped behind the sleeping Cole and flipped the ball past the goalie to put Tottenham ahead.

While that was most unexpected, the response in the second half was not.  Arsenal came out looking to score, but Tottenham held them well, by pushing forward themselves.  It was a spirited display by Spurs, who it was widely predicted would be cannon fodder.  However, the efforts on goal were limited and one well-timed run by Keano was flagged offside, while at the other end, Henry wasn't (when beyond the last man).  This lead to a low save by Kasey and the ball fell behind Carr, but in front of Pires, who prodded the ball into the net to make it 1-1.

The Library readers suddenly looked up from their books and made some noise.  Going behind so early, they had taken time to remember just how not to keep quiet.  For all their noise, it was Tottenham fans who were singing and that lasted until the fluke flipped off Carr's outstretched leg and flew (Gary Mabbutt FA Cup Final 1987 style) over Keller for the winner.  

I have no problem accepting defeat when we deserve it ... last Saturday springs to mind, but in a match like this, it becomes more of a bitter pill to swallow.  They are a good side, but they do their utmost to make themselves unpopular outside of the those who regularly loan their books from Highbury.  They are truly an obnoxious bunch with little Ljungbox being a prime candidate for one who you would enjoy seeing removed from the action.  His fight with Richards, who felt something bang into his knee only to find it was the Swedish troll, was unnecessary and was designed to distract Spurs from concentrating on the free-kick that was just deflected wide by King.

For the record, Tottenham had four bookings to Arsenal's one.  Mark Halsey the referee missed much of what was going on and might not have known what to do if he had seen it anyway.  In my opinion, games might be better if we played them without officials on the evidence of the last few games.

Spurs will have to view this performance as a positive one and although it is a fortnight until the next game, take the good points into the match against Villa, to ensure that the points are starting to be added to our total again.  The way they fought is something that we have been waiting to see for a while now.  If they had played like that against Bolton, it is unlikely that they would have lost, but when Fredi comes back, his finishing added to the determination of the others might just prove a winning combination.

Kirk Hammarton


The little local difficulty put me in mind of Churchill's famous assertion about El Alamein (on Armistice Sunday not a bad allusion to make) that although this is neither the end nor beginning of the end of our problems it may just be the end of the beginning.

Pleaty took the bold step of of dropping one of the gruesome twosome in midfield and pushing the other one out wide where he could be supported/covered by Carr and then push forward to score the opener. For virtually 70 mins this meant that Dalmat and King were not overrun as per Bolton and the back four put in their collective best performance as a defensive unit this year (Taricco predictably got involved in off the ball nonsense but managed to stay on the field).

Strangely it was Keane who seemed to suffer most with this set up: with the exception of the little run that lead to Shaggy's goal he grafted hard but not in the areas of the pitch we need him most.

You have to feel for Postiga - two chances and neither converted although Lehman can take some credit for the second one. First touches are crucial at this level and he will improve with time. I seem to remember that Keano took a while to settle and score his first (remember Burnley last year for comparisons of 1-on-1) and he's OK now.

Helder will come good and Pleaty should stick with the same eleven against Villa. He needs to solve the Keano conundrum as the Irishman has started to resort to last season's running into blind alleys syndrome on occasions. The 4-5-1 that Pleat played back in 86-87 would suit this team with Keane as the lone striker and Postiga arriving from midfield - the problem is we don't have a Hoddle or Hazard in midfield to dictate matters so the current fluid 4-4-2 is a good compromise.

As has been noted by several correspondents to these pages and to the various phone in programmes we need to demonstrate the DESIRE that we showed yesterday in EVERY game regardless of the opposition.

If we can learn to score two goals a game we'll soon be climbing the table especially as our defence is playing better than at any time in recent memory.

There is still a long way to go but we  had a glimpse of much better things yesterday - long may it continue.

Leamington Spa.


Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 0 Middlesbrough 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 2 Everton 1 Monday
Bolton Wanderers 0 SCBC 0 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 3 Fulham 1 Saturday


5 Newcastle United 0 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2 Sunday
Manchester City 0 Leicester City 3 Sunday
Portsmouth 6 Leeds United 1 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 12 9 3 0 25 10 30 +15
2 Chelsea 12 9 2 1 26 8 29 +18
3 Manchester United 12 9 1 2 23 7 28 +16
4 Charlton Athletic 12 6 3 3 19 15 21 +4
5 Birmingham City 12 5 5 2 11 8 20 +3
6 Manchester City 12 5 3 4 22 15 18 +7
7 Fulham 12 5 3 4 22 18 18 +4
8 Liverpool 12 5 2 5 18 14 17 +4
9 SCBC 12 4 5 3 8 7 17 +1
10 Newcastle United 12 4 4 4 16 18 16 -2
11 Portsmouth 12 4 3 5 17 16 15 +1
12 Middlesbrough 12 5 2 6 11 15 14 -4
13 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 12 3 3 6 11 16 12 -5
14 Bolton Wanderers 12 2 6 4 9 19 12 -10
15 Leicester City 12 3 2 7 19 21 11 -2
16 Blackburn Rovers 12 3 2 7 17 23 11 -5
17 Aston Villa 12 2 5 5 9 15 11 -6
18 Everton 12 2 4 6 13 17 10 -4
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 12 2 4 6 8 24 10 -16
20 Leeds United 12 2 2 8 12 32 8 -20

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