BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 7TH FEBRUARY, 2015
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) ARSENAL 1(1)
Kane, 56, 86
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- S. Child & H. Lennard
Fourth official:- A. Marriner
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason (sub Paulinho, 95), Bentaleb; Lamela (sub Stambouli, 90), Dembele (sub Chadli, 75), Eriksen; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Fazio, Davies; Soldado
Booked:- Kane (foul on Giroud), Mason (blocked free kick), Bentaleb (kicked ball away)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1):- Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker (Capt.), Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin (sub Akpom, 89); Welbeck (sub Walcott, 78), Cazorla (sub Rosicky, 68), Ozil; Giroud
Subs not used:- Szczesny; Gibbs, Gabriel; Flamini
Booked:- Monreal (foul on Walker), Welbeck (foul on Rose), Koscielny (foul on Dembele), Giroud (foul on Mason), Ramsey (foul on Bentaleb)
Absolutely and thoroughly deserved win.
The stats don't lie. Spurs dominated possession; had more shots on goal, and more shots on target than Arsenal, who came into this game as the form side of the Premier League, having won 5 of their last 6 league games, without even conceding a goal in the last three. Once again, Harry Kane was the hero of the hour, and undoubted man of the match, but there really were 11 heroes out there for Spurs today, in one of the most exhilarating "North" London derbies in recent years . (For Spurs fans at least!) Spurs fans also know why the word "North" is in inverted commas.
I was a little surprised, but impressed with Mauricio Pochettino's selection of Eric Dier for Fazio at the back. Dier has more pace than Fazio, and together with Jan Vertonghen formed a formidable centre back pairing.
In front of them we welcomed back Nabil Bentaleb from African Cup of Nations duties, and the two former Academy players (Mason & Bentaleb) worked most efficiently in tandem, breaking up so many Arsenal forward moves (they didn't have many attacks), whilst also offering support to the forward players. Chadli had to be content with a place on the bench, with Mousa Dembele once again winning favour in the middle of the attacking midfield three.
Dembele was one of two Spurs players who attracted negative comments occasionally from Spurs fans, who were upset when he received balls on his right foot, when he needs the ball on his left. Dembele had a good game, and made plenty of good spreading passes, particularly in the early stages to Danny Rose, overlapping on the left.
The other Spurs man to be subject of occasional criticism was Erik Lamela, but I give him credit for his extra half-yard of effort, and for his ability to get a defensive foot in, which would usually work in our favour. Lamela also featured positively in several of our attacking moves.
The atmosphere was hot from the start, as Spurs kicked off, playing towards the Park Lane.
Danny Rose made a good interception in his own area, after a Spurs attack had broken down through Mason's mis-placed pass. Rose quickly turned the move into effective attack, with a ball to Lamela, who flicked it onward to Dembele. Dembele made one of those passes to his left for Harry Kane, whose shot passed just outside the far post, getting a touch somewhere to win a corner.
After 9 minutes, Bentaleb, Lamela, Eriksen, and again Dembele were involved, before Dembele's final pass found Danny Rose in an advanced position on the left. Rose's low and powerful cross/shot was held by Ospina, who has recently displaced Szczesny in goal.
Rose made a great tackle in the box, to deprive Welbeck of the ball, but minutes later, Arsenal had a lead, against the run of play. Welbeck crossed from the right; Giroud mis-cued, and Ozil hit the ball first time past Lloris. I could swear that Lloris's first touch was to pick the ball out of the net, and that his next touch was after 22 minutes to collect a Dier back-headed pass.
Spurs were un-fazed by the goal, and got their heads down to get back on terms. First half possession was massively in our favour, and we deserved a goal or two in that period. Eriksen fed Dembele,who once again found Rose in space. Ospina pushed Rose's shot away.
Lamela got a foot in to send Kane away, but his run was thwarted, before Lamela was the provider for Bentaleb, whose shot was pushed just wide of the post. That Eriksen-Dembele-Rose move ended in another effort by Rose going just wide.
Kane offered the ball to Dembele, who was down the right channel, but he needed to work it onto his left foot to shoot, and nothing came of it. Ryan Mason ended another move with a shot just outside the goalkeeper's left post. Lamela received a low and powerful cross by Kyle Walker, but skied his attempt on goal.
Kane had a snap shot from the right, after Eriksen headed him the ball. The shot went wide, but the Park Lane crowd chanted "He's one of our own", which at one stage drew a response from the Arsenal fans about a certain former Spurs centre half, who shall not be named. Arsenal suggested he was one of their own.
At half-time Sam Warburton, Wales rugby captain, who won his fiftieth cap last night, was presented with a Spurs shirt by Ledley King, with the number 50. Warburton is a friend of Gareth Bale. Also interviewed was the great, and still sprightly looking Cliff Jones, who I understand was celebrating his 80th birthday.
Early in the second half, Arsenal actually had what I would consider their first period of sustained passing play. It led to a right footed shot by Cazorla, which Hugo saved, diving to his left.
Spurs got back on terms after a corner, won by Ryan Mason. The corner was taken from the north-east corner by Lamela, and was flicked on at the near post. All that Ospina could do was push the ball beyond his back post, where Harry Kane lurked, and fired home a low and accurate shot. Kane ran to the north-west corner to celebrate.
Spurs then put the Arsenal goal under real pressure, with crosses and shots by Rose, Eriksen, Dembele either blocked or saved, before Harry Kane was called offside when his final effort drew a save by Ospina.
Lloris's work was not over, and he was called upon to make his best save of the game, and a great one it was too, as Danny Welbeck fired a right foot shot across Lloris, who dived to his left, pushing the ball round for a corner. From the corner, Hugo had to dive low to collect a close range Arsenal effort.
After 62 minutes, an Eriksen corner was met by Dier, but his header was blocked, before Mason's follow-up was held by Ospina. Eriksen was the provider for a 22 yard shot by Bentaleb, saved by the keeper and followed up by Kane, who was once again caught offside.
Eriksen was fouled in free kick territory, but put this kick over the bar, but not by far. Eriksen took the ball deep down the left after a break on 78 minutes, but his cross was just a little behind Lamela, who, as a result skied another attempt.
By this time, Arsene Wenger had put on Rosicky for Cazorla, and Walcott for Welbeck in an effort to snatch the game. The Spurs defence was put under more pressure, but came through unscathed in the run-in.
Spurs won the game in the 86th minute, with Harry Kane scoring yet again, making it 12 Premier League goals, and 22 in all competitions so far this season (for the club). The move started with a throw on the left, and Bentaleb crossed from deep on the left. Harry rose magnificently above the Arsenal defence to beat Ospina with as good a header as you could wish to see. This time Harry celebrated in the opposite corner. What a season he is having!
There were four minutes of added time, some of which was filled by two late substitutions by Spurs, ended by the referee's whistle, and sustained cheers from the home crowd.
It was most pleasing to be among the vast majority of the home crowd who stayed behind to cheer their team, who wholeheartedly celebrated. Not least was Harry Kane, who toured the stadium, followed closely by the BT Sport cameraman, applauding the crowd, and in turn receiving their acclaim.
It had indeed been an absolutely and thoroughly deserved win, and equally a great day for Spurs fans. The bad days make days like this all the more special.
Let's hope for more special days, starting on Tuesday night at Anfield.
P.S - We were fourth for a couple of hours, but Southampton managed a 1-0 win at QPR. We are in fifth place, one point ahead of Arsenal. It's good to be a Spur!
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