Saturday 29th October 2005
Tottenham being ahead of Arsenal as we move into the North London
derby for the first time since April 1995, it opens an exciting
proposition with Arsenal having a poor time away from Lowbury this
Although Spurs have not hit top gear yet, the need to grit their teeth and tighten up against Arsenal will be necessary to ensure they do themselves justice.
In goal, the Gooners will put Jens Lehmann between the posts. His shot-stopping is his strength and he does not like being challenged in the air, so Mido might have fun, as might Jermain Defoe, as the German custodian does not like having his feet stepped on. In reserve, Sunderland's Mart Poom has been on the bench, while Manuel Almunia is also in the squad if required. Both are capable keepers, but may be lacking the edge of competitive action in the Reds' side.
The defence will be missing Ashley Cole, but Sol Campbell will be back in the middle of the defence, probably alongside Kolo Toure. The two don't seem to play that well together, but with the other options being dodgy French centre-half Pascal Cygan or the inexperienced Philip Senderos, Wenger will most likely opt for the African, who can lose his position sometimes. At full-back, Lauren and Gael Clichy are likely to feature. Both prefer attacking to defending, which might leave Spurs some space to get into behind them, with Tainio and Lennon wide in the midfield.
In the opposing midfield, Gilberto, Cesc Fabregas, Pires, Ljungberg and Flamini are the choices, but Alexander Hleb is missing with a knee injury that will keep him out for some time. Pires is dangerous with his dives into the box, while Ljungberg can also produce the unexpected fall. Neither Fabregas nor Flamini have a desire to get involved in the physical side of the game, so it is a shame they are unable to face Davids in confrontational mood. There is skill in this part of the side, but the tactic used on them recently by West Brom and Man City was not to give them time on the ball and keep the hassling going to make them move the ball quicker than they wanted, thus resulting in them turning over the ball.
With Terry Henry supposed to be less than likely to play, Wenger might pair the young Goons Reyes and van Persie, with his old Dutch Bergkamp on the bench. Reyes finishes well, but not often enough as to be regarded as the finished article, while van Persie cannot claim to have settled after his jailing for an alleged rape in Holland. Spurs' defence will not face a physical threat from the forwards, although that will come from set-pieces, but the movement off the ball by the Arsenal strikers will need to be tracked and the players will also need to hold their positions.
Spurs will undoubtedly miss the competitive nature of Edgar Davids in midfield after picking up his fifth booking at Old Trafford last week, but I imagine Teemu Tainio will come in to replace the Dutchman. It is a shame we are also not able to play Wayne Routledge against the Gooners, but Aaron Lennon has shown a healthy disrepect for noted defenders and he might yet cause problems for the visitors. Mido's physical presence will also make the visit uncomfortable, while King and Dawson will be up for the derby.
I would have gone for a home banker, but with Arsenal's players coming back for this match, I think that this might just take the result back towards their favour ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 2
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Noe Pamarot (knee); Wayne Routledge (broken foot); Anthony Gardner (thigh); Ledley King (thigh); Goran Bunjevcevic (broken toe); - (-)
ARSENAL : Freddie Ljungberg (hamstring); Sol Campbell (hamstring); Ashley Cole (foot); Alexander Hleb (knee); - (-)
available on BBC radio, it can be heard in these countries on these
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 1 (Half-time score : 1-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 29th October 2005||Kick Off : 13.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,154||Referee : Steve Bennett (Orpington)|
|Weather : Warm, sunny|
|Teams : -|
Lennon (Reid 74)
Ljungberg (Van Persie 66)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
It is rarely possible to enjoy a North London Derby until it is over, but in this case, it was not possible to enjoy what Spurs had done until I had calmed down about the disgraceful display in the second half. Not of Spurs, but of Arsenal's gamesmanship in trying to get back into the game by foul means instead of fair.
The falling over and acting to get free-kicks and Spurs players booked was worthy of one of the more "theatric" European sides. Lehmann's antics were frankly sickening and he succeeded in getting Defoe and Dawson cautioned with little trouble, such is his ability in the throwing his arms up in the air stakes. The way things went for Arsenal in the second period, you would have thought that they were champions elect and once more we are desperate for a 'homer' to take charge of one of our games.
Arsenal's antics and Bennett's loss of control fo the game led to Pires capitalising on Robinson's fluffed punch to grab a draw for the visitors. They way they celebrated their goal (making their most purposeful runs of the game right along the length of the East Stand in front of the Tottenham fans) and at the end of the game, they were the most grateful for the point. It is a matter of fact that we have not won against them for six years, but at the moment they are running scared.
With Davids ruled out by suspension, it was always going to be a tough task for Tottenham, even though Arsenal were missing Henry, but having Ljungberg and Reyes back. Tainio made a more than adequate replacement for Davids and his terrierish tackling upset some of the more gentile Gooner midfield, while also exhibiting a good turn of speed to race away from opponents and also some good bits of skill. With Jenas and Carrick both putting in fine displays alongside him, Spurs set about humbling the other lot in the first half.
The fact that Spurs out-passed, out-played and out-thought Arsenal in the first half, limiting them to a couple of crosses into the Spurs box. The visitor's play was shabby and really lacked any precision or passion, as they were often second best, as Spurs showed their eagerness to compete and close down the Gooners, when they had the ball. This was typified by Ledley King's superb sliding tackle on Reyes as he broke into the Tottenham box, while Ljungberg slid five yards into the Spurs net with nobody around him.
The bookings went Arsenal's way in the first fifteen minutes. A crude jab at Jenas' ankle brought Gilberto a caution, while Flamini produced a nasty tackle on the same part of Tainio's anatomy. How Toure escaped without a yellow (at least) for a number of fouls from behind and a late, high second half kick on Dawson, I don't know. Maybe Mr. Bennett does ?
When Gilberto once more brought down Lennon from behind (a yellow card offence usually), Spurs were given a free-kick by Bennett, rather than having the advantage played, as Stalteri ran unchallenged into the area. Referees really do not understand the frustration fans incur when such decisions are made. If there was advantage, then go back and book the player to at least make it worth while stopping the play. Carrick's free-kick evened things up, as Campbell gave his full concentration to preventing Mido getting off the ground, thus leaving Ledley to make a perfectly timed run and jump to really power the ball past the German keeper. The crowd enjoyed the goal only slightly less than the Spurs captain !!
Rattled, Arsenal continued to give the ball away with the object of the boos - S. Campbell - being the main culprit. When Toure was played into trouble, Mido nicked the ball off him, nut-megged him and tried a cheeky chip over Lehmann, but put it too high. Any time Arsenal got near goal, the Spurs players were willing to throw themselves in front of any effort and Tainio and Dawson excelled at this. Arsenal were not so keen to get in the way of the Spurs shots and Carrick and Jenas fired in efforts from 20 yards out. Carrick's fizzed wide of the goal with Lehmann helpless and Jenas struck a fine shot that the keeper managed to get something on and divert it over the top.
Twice the Tottenham fans almost had the ultimate to cheer. Shaky all afternoon, Campbell headed one ball back towards his own goal and the goalie had to grab it and then a cross from Stalteri on the right was almost sliced into the goal off his foot, but it went narrowly wide. From the corner, Mido got a free header, but could not direct it on target. As in last year's fixture at Highbury, Lehmann once more made great play that Defoe had stood on his feet as they waited for a corner to come in. A yellow for the Spurs striker, but nothing for Lehmann, who put his head into Defoe in the same incident. A shame then that Defoe's wriggle past two defenders and low cross was nto able to be reached by Jenas to add a second goal right before the half-time whistle.
Wenger was obviously unhappy about the first half, with Flamini going off and Pires replacing him. Spurs began the second half slowly and failed to close down the other side as quickly as they had in the first half. This resulted in Arsenal having more possession, but still they failed to make a lot of it.
I find some of the things that Arsenal do quite despicable. When Lehmann went down holding his head as a corner was about to be taken, he held the side of his head away from the crowd behind the goal. I think that the ref did pick something up to take off to the fourth official, but the German keeper made great play of his head hurting (probably all that thinking we made him do). Then, when the corner came in, he gathers the ball, barges into Dawson, who gets on with play and pushes him back, only for Lehmann to take a dive and roll around a bit. This caused a confrontation between players from both sides and a yellow for our centre half !!
Lee then saw yellow for a trip on Fabregas, as he ran onto a through pass and took the foul rather than bother about the ball, immediately pointing for a penalty. Spurs though play by different rules. Defoe was tight on the left wing, but managed to work his way with great skill past two defenders, only for one of them to lunge at him in the area. Now, if he had raspberry on his short, he would have taken the proffered leg and won a penalty, but no. He is Spurs and stayed on his feet to hit a low shot that Lehmann kept out with his foot. Straight away another flash of yellow saw Tainio in the book for a swing at the ball that failed to connect with it and also failed to connect with Ljungberg, but such an expert faller is he, that the ref was suckered in.
The move that probably changed the game came when the Swede pulled a hamstring and was replaced by van Persie. He produced a shot that Robbo saw late, but got a good hand to and then the Dutchman failed to reach Pires' through pass as he ran through the centre. His pace was causing problems, but it was Reyes who won the foul for a free-kick that led to the equaliser. His squeal after Stalteri's tackle was worthy of Ned Flanders and certainly loud enough to impress Bennett.
The ball was put over and Robinson, coming out of shadow into the sun, half-punched, half-pushed the ball away to the back post, but Pires was there to side-foot a volley into the open gap between defenders and into the net. His celebration and Campbell's were designed to incite Spurs fans and they succeeded. But where was the referee's card ? Firmly in his pocket.
The remainder of the game saw Arsenal pick up possession as Spurs cleared the ball or turned the ball over to them, but they did not carve out another decent chance. Robinson ran out to the right edge of his box to meet Pires, as he broke down the line, making Spurs fans' hearts leap into their mouths, but the England keeper blocked the shot with his legs. When Cygan replaced Reyes, you know it was the same old Arsenal.
What this game proved to me was that the team we have has greater potential than Arsenal's at this moment in time. While some of our players have less Premiership experience than theirs, they have welded together into a good unit and for the future, they look to be heading in the right direction. Arsenal, with Pires, Bergkamp, Campbell, Lehmann and Ljungberg, look like a team in decline. They are still well experienced and use that to the full in trying to get back into games whichever way they can.
In the next few years, I think I know where I would rather be watching my football. And I will be seeing it the way it was meant to be played.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL CARRICK
|BIG KICKS AND DIRTY TRICKS|
|This might seem a little
unusual, but I want to rate the opposition in today's game.
LEHMANN : Always looks
dodgy on crosses and why didn't we put Mido on him to unsettle him
rather than Defoe ? Well beaten by King's header and also by
Carrick's shot, which flew inches wide. Did well to tip Jenas'
shot over the bar. Unbelievable antics when hit by something
from the crowd (the consensus seems to be a conker) and when he bumped
into Dawson and got some back. The bloke is a liability and I am
surprised more teams don't play on him.
left little in the engine for the second half and that let Arsenal
back into the match. They should have got the second goal with
all the effort they put into the first period and that would have
meant that the Goons would have had to have got the ball past Paul
Robinson twice ... which would have been highly unlikely.
The one they did get was a mistake by Robbo and he will hold his hand up to that, but who was marking Pires at the back post ? When you watch the Spurs goal, for all the Arsenal defenders in the area, most of them moved away from the middle of the goal to the back stick, while Ledley King had a free run in on the cross to head home. Our defence did the opposite. Packing the goalmouth when the free-kick came over, there was nobody on the line, leaving Pires a straight shot on goal.
With pressure building on Spurs, they started playing percentage balls forward, which invariably were won by their defenders. Only Defoe showed skill and determination to hold the ball up and run at their players, almost bringing a goal with a wriggling run that brought a fortunate stop from Lehmann.
Carrick was the star of the show with a great offensive showing in the first half. Getting forward to hit a screamer of a shot that flashed wide is what we all want to see more of him doing. I also lost count of the number of times he was back in defence heading the ball away or breaking up play.
An honourable mention should also got o Michael Dawson, who was a rock alongside Ledley. Winning headers, throwing blocks and using the ball really well, he is going to be a fantastic signing and I hope all those other teams who hesitated in snapping him up will be green with envy.
Jenas and Tainio played very well in midfield too, with Lee and Stalteri making good ground up the line. If only the ref had played on when the Canadian was through !! Mind you, sod the advantage. It was one of the hardest headers I have ever seen from a Spurs player and must be about the best goal Ledley has scored.
A bit disappointed on losing two points, but buoyed by the fact that we were better than them over the 90 minutes. I would rather be a Spurs supporter than a Gooner (that goes without saying) in the next few years, as Spurs are on their way up and that lot are not.
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Charlton Athletic||0||Bolton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Liverpool||2||West Ham United||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Newcastle United||3||Sunday|
|Manchester City||3||Aston Villa||1||Monday|
|9||West Ham United||10||4||3||3||14||10||15||+4|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||11||2||2||7||9||21||8||-12|
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