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Match Reports
Spurs v Arsenal, 13.11.04


(12 noon)

Spurs scorers:-
Naybet, 37
Defoe, 61
King, 74
Kanoute, 88

Arsenal scorers:-
Henry, 45
Lauren (pen), 55
Vieira, 60
Ljungberg, 69
Pires, 81

Referee:- Steve Bennett

Attendance:- 36, 095

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King (Capt.), Edman; Mendes (sub Davies, 67), Brown (sub Kanoute, 75), Carrick, Ziegler; Defoe, Keane (sub Gardner, 90)

Subs not used:- Fulop; Redknapp

Booked:- Naybet, Ziegler, Brown

Arsenal (4-4-2):- Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Cygan, Cole; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Vieira (Capt.), Reyes (sub Pires, 67); Bergkamp (sub van Persie, 81), Henry

Subs not used:- Almunia (GK); Hoyte; Flamini

No Bookings

Where do you start to write a report on a game like this? I've been in the "Unreality Zone" today with 36,094 other souls, of whom about 3,000 (the opposition) went home happy. However, even they must have feared a late equaliser from Spurs, which looked on the cards once Fredi Kanoute had fired home his 88th minute goal to give the home crowd hope for the third time, as Spurs came back from being two goals down.

All I can say really is that there were cartoon capers at the Lane today. It was a bit like watching Tom and Jerry, and whilst the "mouse" (Tottenham) kept coming back, it was the "cat" (Arsenal) who had the last laugh, unlike in the cartoon series. Spurs scored 4, thus increasing their league goal tally by 50%, and still lost. Can you believe it? Arsenal conceded 4 for the first time in a league game since November, 2001, when they lost to Charlton. Most of you, like me, were watching, perhaps on a silver screen somewhere around the world. It was one of those games that will have the media shouting about a "thriller", but most of you, like me, will have been left numbed by the drama that unfolded before our very eyes. For the record then, I'll write a report, which may be painful to read:-

The big-screen build-up settled for focussing upon last season's game culminating in Robbie Keane's penalty, before the teams ran out in front of glorious winter sunshine, which impeded the view of whichever goalkeeper was at the Paxton Road end, and most of the crowd in the North End of the ground. Look, SKY, we at Tottenham are not used to these lunch-time games, and prefer the sun to be on the wane when we watch our football!

Spurs fielded the same starting line-up as at Burnley, with the welcome exception of Erik Edman's return to the defence. (A term we must use loosely today!) Once again, Mendes played out on the right, and Michael Brown was given the job of battling with Vieira, which he had done so well in the Spring. Arsenal were missing he who shall not be named, and whilst Gilberto and Edu were other absentees, there ain't much wrong with a side that can afford to name Pires on the bench! Add to that the fact that I've seen Fabregas waltzing around our reserve defence, and we all knew too well that the visitors were as dangerous as ever.

It didn't look like that though for much of the first half, as Spurs dominated the early possession, and the only time Arsenal got into our half we all laughed at Ljungberg's failed pass to Henry. Spurs were holding their line well, and the opposition didn't get close enough to threaten the sun-blinded Robinson. Edman led the Spurs attack after 4 minutes with a ball to Defoe down the left. His cross reached Mendes, whose shot was parried. Then Michael Brown won the ball back in the Arsenal half, but his ball was held by Lehmann. Brown won a free kick in an early skirmish with Vieira, and Ziegler's floated free kick kept Lehmann thinking as the ball just edged past the far post.

Spurs were enjoying some good pressure, and Carrick sent Defoe away this time down the right. Defoe got to the line, and crossed low for Robbie Keane, who was denied by Lehmann and a defender, who conceded a corner. After 22 minutes, we saw the sort of lovely flowing move that would grace a Spurs side from any era. It was started by Ziegler in the middle, with some tricky play. The move featuring a number of quick first time passes ended with Fabregas impeding Brown. Ziegler's free kick was snuffed out in the box.

Look, here we are in the 37th minute, and I've hardly mentioned the gooner attack, have I? It's no surprise then that Spurs took a deserved lead through Naybet of all people, when Carrick's free kick reached the Spurs defender beyond the back post, and he fired low past Lehmann. Naybet celebrated with his own fans near the dug-outs, but still got booked for his trouble. Yet, when Henry scored the equaliser and put his finger to his lips, inciting the home support, there was no sanction from referee Bennett.

Before that equaliser, there were chances at each end. First a Ziegler free kick was headed back by Vieira (under pressure from King, amongst others), and Lehmann had to tip over. Ziegler then got booked for a foul, and the Bergkamp free kick was headed over by Cygan. Just when it looked like we could all gloat over a half time cup of Bovril, and the announcer told us there would be one minute added on, the Spurs defence froze, as the ball was sent from the right, and Henry was allowed to control and fire home from close range. Spurs never recovered the poise they had displayed after that goal.

Just after the break, Ljungberg sent a cross from the right, which Ledley missed, leaving Reyes with a golden chance in front of Robinson. Reyes managed to dolly the shot to Robinson. Arsenal maintained the early pressure, which was not helped by stray passes into the middle of the pitch from Mendes of all people. Pamarot conceded a penalty, after confusion reigned between Robinson and King, who apparently accidentally tapped the ball out of the keeper's hands. Ljungberg it was who was brought down by the panicking full back, and Lauren stepped up to halt his run, and with Robinson deceived, plant the ball to the keeper's left.

Defoe nearly responded immediately with a shot that was deflected and hit the side netting, but on the hour, Spurs went two down in shameful fashion, as first Brown lost the ball, then as others tried to get a foot on the ball, Naybet ended up passing to Vieira, who raced away unchallenged with an easy job of beating the keeper with a powerful finish to the goalie's right.

Heads were down in the crowd, but Defoe hadn't given up, as within a minute, he brought the difference back to one with a magnificent solo goal. Picking the ball up on the left, he raced inside leaving a trail of gooners, before hitting a superb right foot shot beyond Lehmann's out-stretched left hand to burst the net. The two goal difference was restored as Pires started an advance upon the Spurs area, with Fabregas and Ljungberg involved too. Naybet had failed to clear properly when he could, and Ljungberg had an easy job to put the ball in the net.

The ping-pong game continued, as once again, Spurs clawed the difference back, with a super Ledley King header from a free kick on the left. Carrick's scuffed pass to Defoe was subject to a scuffed shot, but the crowd sensed that there still might be something in this game for Spurs. Sadly, that hope was to fade when Henry, despite being successfully blocked at least twice in the box, still managed to pass to Pires, who somehow managed to score from the sharpest angle ever, despite the attentions of a defender and the keeper.

Fredi Kanoute had replaced Michael Brown, and when he rattled home Ziegler's great ball to the back of the defence, it looked like a 5-5 might be on the cards, especially when 4 minutes added time was announced. All Spurs could muster though was one shot from Simon Davies that went wide, and the points were taken back to Highbury.

Unsurprisingly, this was the highest aggregate score of any First Team game between the two sides. Arsenal last scored 5 goals at The Lane on 23rd December, 1978. The last time Spurs scored 4 against Arsenal was on 15th October, 1963, when we drew 4-4. Spurs also scored 4 goals in the fixture in the home match in the previous three seasons, winning 4-2, 4-3, then achieving another 4-4 draw on 6th October, 1962. Arsenal conceded 4 league goals today for the first time since 4th November, 2001, when they lost 4-2 at home to Charlton.

There were nine different scorers today. This is the first time that this has occurred in a Premiership game.

Spurs have now lost 5 consecutive Premiership games and are just two games away from their worst ever run of consecutive defeats which was 7 between 1st January and 27th February, 1994. The team we played to end that run of defeats was Aston Villa (H), when we drew 1-1! (Our next match is at Villa Park).

It was nearly such a memorable start for Martin Jol, and with Jacques Santini at the Lane for French TV, and being quoted in the media to start another week of back-biting, you can guarantee there is not going to be a dull moment in the weeks ahead for Tottenham, who have managed to stay in 14th place, but who really do need to turn that corner soon. Despite the result, and the frailties displayed, I do still feel optimistic for the necessary improvement, and perhaps some success in the Carling Cup.

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