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Arsenal v Spurs, 17.11.12

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 17th NOVEMBER, 2012
(12.45pm)
ARSENAL 5 (3) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)

Arsenal scorers:-
Mertesacker, 24
Podolski, 42
Giroud, 45
Cazorla, 60
Walcott, 90

Spurs scorers:-
Adebayor, 10
Bale, 71

Attendance:- 60, 111

Referee:- Howard Webb
Assistants:- Mr. M. Mullarkey & Mr. D. Cann
Fourth official:- Mr. C. Foy

Teams:-
Arsenal:- (4-4-1-1):- Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (Capt.); Walcott, Arteta, Wilshere (sub Ramsey, 72), Podolski (sub Santos, 80); Cazorla; Giroud (sub Oxlade-Chamberlain,86)

Subs not used:- Mannone; Jenkinson, Coquelin; Arshavin

Booked:- Podolski (foul on Vertonghen)

Spurs:- (4-4-2/4-4-1/3-5-1):- Lloris; Walker ( sub Dawson, 46), Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton (sub Dempsey, 46); Lennon, Huddlestone (sub Carroll, 72), Sandro, Bale; Adebayor, Defoe

Subs not used:- Friedel; Livermore, Sigurdsson, Townsend

Booked:- Lennon (foul on Vermaelen), Sandro (foul on Giroud)

Sent off:-Adebayor (two-footed challenge on Cazorla, 17)

Slip sliding away

It was all going so well until Emmanuel Adebayor's rash two-footed tackle on Santi Cazorla after 17 minutes. Adebayor had been selected to play alongside Jermain Defoe in an adventurous 4-4-2 for Spurs, and had given Spurs a tenth minute lead in an opening spell when Spurs were in control, on top and looking to have every chance of securing a great result.

Referee Howard Webb paid heed to Cazorla's apparent injury first, but when he turned to the Spurs striker, he showed a straight red, to the unmitigated glee of the home fans, who, as the game progressed chanted "What's the score Adebayor?", as the scoreline increased in Arsenal's favour on stages.

Although Spurs had the lead when Adebayor was dismissed, the game was over as a competitive occasion. I've seen it before, and no doubt I'll see it again, but there would be no way back for Spurs.

Arsenal's ground is a horrible place to go to, whether you think of its current or previous incarnation. It's an even worse place to lose at, and an indescribably despicable place at which to get thrashed.

Thrashed is what we got, and despite AVB'S bold half-time adjustments, to my mind it is absolutely unforgivable beyond redemption for a Spurs team to lose two consecutive games to their most hated rivals by this 5-2 scoreline.

Who is answerable for this state of affairs? Is it the players? Is it the coaching staff as a whole? I don't know, but I do know that every year, each generation of Arsenal team does have instilled into them the paramount REQUIREMENT, not just desire, to beat the team from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

For the second consecutive game, I had to not just endure the incessant crowing of opposition fans, but I had to endure it from a seat only separated from them by a line of stewards. That dear reader is he most horrible experience, and one for which I have paid a total of 113. That's just the ticket prices, and takes no account of travel and ancillary expenses. Not for the first time, I find myself questioning my sanity.

Spurs had already had the ball in the net through William Gallas, after Defoe clipped on Bale's free kick taken from the right. Gallas had been flagged offside, but minutes later Vertonghen sent a long ball over the Arsenal defence, and Jermain Defoe was left with the goal beckoning. Szczesny parried the shot, but Adebayor followed up clinically in front of the away support to put us in raptures.

Spurs did not stop there either, as Bale sent a ball across the box, picked up by Lennon, who fired wide.

Arsenal found their attacking feet though, with new man Cazorla enjoying a free role in front of his midfield behind Giroud. Wilshere was the provider though for Walcott, whose cross was cleared not too convincingly by the Spurs defence, who missed Steven Caulker, presumably with a knock sustained in Sweden. Vertonghen therefore played beside Gallas, with Naughton in the left back role, struggling against Walcott.

Then came the dismissal, which fired up the home team, and forced Spurs onto the back foot, with Defoe their only outlet at the front. The inevitable equaliser came mid-way through the first half, when Walcott crossed and Mertesacker headed home.

This was an example of a simple cross being converted, but Arsenal also have a way of switching the defence left and right with their movement and shorter passes within the flanks. Thus, at times, whilst he made several good saves and interceptions, Lloris was sometimes under pressure regarding his positioning.

Lloris made a great save from Giroud's header on the half hour after an Arsenal free kick. The ball was beating Lloris to his left, but somehow he stretched back his left arm to push it over the bar. After the corner, Cazorla tried a shot from distance, which went over. Lloris punched another Giroud header clear after a cross by Sagna.

Spurs were devastated by two Arsenal goals before the interval. Firstly Podolski scored from inside the box, after an assist by Wilshere, then Giroud doubled the lead before the half-time whistle after good work by at man Cazorla, who was lauded by the home fans time and time again.

AVB'S bold half-time move was to take off both of his full backs, replacing them with Dawson and Dempsey. Dawson played between Gallas and Vertonghen at the back, with Lennon and Bale nominally as wing-backs, but rarely seen defending. Dempsey joined Huddlestone and Sandro in the midfield, behind Defoe.

In the early stages, Spurs did take the game to their opponents, with Bale hitting one notable effort just wide across the goal. Dawson made a great tackle against Walcott, but eventually the threadbare Spurs defence was to be stretched and exposed by Arsenal, whose lead was increased on the hour, when Podolski hit a low cross from the left, which was converted by Cazorla. Spurs were in disarray soon after that when Wilshere and Walcott were in the area, with the goal at their mercy. Mercifully, between them they managed to let the chance slip.

Gareth Bale got a goal back for Spurs, after carrying the ball on a run following a well-guided powerful header by Sandro, before firing low past Szczesny. Bale nearly followed up his goal with another effort that passed just wide, after good work by Sandro and Dempsey. Had Spurs managed to get another goal, the home team, and their fans would have been sweating.

It was all to no avail though, as in the closing stages Walcott finished off proceedings. Walking back up the Holloway Road was horrible, and included some of the worst experiences that any reasonable-minded football fan has to face, with one or two melees breaking out, and gloating gooners emerging from the pubs.

AVB will have to make maximum use of Adebayor in the remaining two Europa League games, because he will now miss our next three league games, and he'll be off to Africa in January. At least one of the head coach's selection problems have been eased.

A home win next Sunday against West Ham is of paramount importance to us all!

Glenn Hoddle talks about the game on Absolute Radio

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