FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
MONDAY 25TH APRIL, 2005
ARSENAL 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee: - Mike Riley
Attendance: - 38,147
Arsenal (4-4-2):- Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Senderos, Cole; Fabregas (sub Edu, 69), Gilberto, Vieira (Capt.), Pires; Van Persie (sub Bergkamp, 69), Reyes (sub Aliadiere, 87)
Subs not used: - Almunia; Campbell
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Dawson, King (Capt.), Edman; Davies, Carrick, Davis (sub Ziegler, 78), Reid; Kanoute (sub Mido, 69), Defoe (sub Keane, 78)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Naybet
Booked: - Davis, Edman, Kanoute, Dawson
Barring any Cup Match next season, Spurs will have just one more chance to beat their rivals at Highbury, before the move to the new Emirates Stadium takes place in August 2006. Chelsea’s wait for one more week in which to secure this season’s Premiership title is likely to reach fruition, but it is still hard to see Spurs emulating, let alone beating the old enemy from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.
The first half was almost one-way traffic, and whilst Spurs at least competed more after the break, at the end of the day, they only have two real efforts on goal to speak of, whilst the Gooners had countless shooting opportunities, most of which were thankfully fired wide rather than giving Paul Robinson too much work to do. Lehmann had to make a straightforward double save from Defoe, but otherwise he simply had to pluck the ball out of the air, as free kicks, corners and crosses became fodder for him.
Spurs usual hopefulness was almost destroyed in the first minute when Reyes was put clear by Van Persie, ran around the advancing Robinson, but then put the ball into the side netting in front of the relieved away support. Spurs then constantly struggled to make any headway, as Arsenal ran at them with their usual pace, and one touch passing, coupled with clever movement. Spurs needed two or three touches to even gain control of the ball. Sean Davis looked sluggish in the middle, Carrick couldn’t compete, and Andy Reid and Simon Davies had a hard job to get involved.
Defoe did have a good effort after 13 minutes, receiving a ball from Carrick and worrying Lehmann with a dipping shot that went just over the bar. Three minutes later, fed by Kanoute, Defoe had two shots at Lehmann, both of which were like candy to a baby. Spurs went behind after losing the ball in the midfield, when Fabregas sent Reyes away, who finished the job this time with a shot across Robinson from the left of the area.
After 34 minutes, Vieira went flying down in the Spurs area, but Mike Riley ignored the penalty appeals, although he chose not to book the Arsenal skipper. Soon after that Vieira had a free header as Kanoute left him unmarked, for Van Persie’s free kick, heading wide. Kanoute went down in their box, but Mr Riley adjudged that Senderos had tackled fairly. Despite his fitness, Campbell had been kept on the bench, as Senderos and Toure seem to have struck up a good relationship in his absence. There was one more effort from Van Persie before the break, as he hit a good right foot shot on the turn.
Despite the Arsenal dominance, Michael Dawson is worthy of a mention, as he had another impressive game. I recall one erroneous header across the box to a red shirt, but otherwise he continues to impress me. After the break, Spurs enjoyed more possession, with little to show for it, except a couple of free kicks and corners, during which Lehmann and Defoe had a bit of a spat. Arsenal made a couple of substitutions, with Edu and Bergkamp joining the fray, at which point they started to play their flowing game again. Kanoute was replaced by Mido.
Toure hit a good free kick from 30 yards after Vieira slipped him the ball, hitting just over the bar, and then Pires set up Edu, whose shot hit the outside of the post. Another chance fell to Reyes on the left, after a spell of Arsenal possession. Reyes hit the side netting again.
Jermain Defoe has been suffering a spell of drought really, and it was no surprise to see Robbie Keane take his place. Ziegler replaced Davis, and immediately there was more energy in the Spurs midfield. In fact Ziegler had just shown great skill in the Arsenal box, before the goners broke away rapidly, as good teams do. Reyes set up Bergkamp, and his shot was marginally wide too. After good work by Mido, Andy Reid crossed from the left, and Robbie Keane was in space at the back post. His header should have hit the net for an equaliser, but it went outside the post, with Lehmann beaten. Keane was through again, and Ashley Cole definitely handled the ball as it ran out of play. Mike Riley decided it was ball to hand and a corner, rather than a penalty. So ended another frustrating visit to the library for Spurs, and their fans.
Our next two games against Aston Villa and Middlesbrough take on massive proportions, as one feels that if we can win both, then UEFA still beckons
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