Saturday 4 January 2014
FA Cup Third Round
Arsenal (1) 2 Tottenham Hotspur (0) 0
Cazorla 31, Rosicky 62
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Arsene Wenger
21 L Fabianski; 3 B Sagna, 6 L Koscielny, 5 T Vermaelen (c) (4 P Mertesacker 45), 17 N Monreal; 8 M Arteta (11 M Özil 75); 10 J Wilshere (20 M Flamini 71); 44 S Gnabry, 7 T Rosicky, 19 S Cazorla; 14 T Walcott
Subs Not Used: 13 E Viviano, 25 C Jenkinson, 30 J-YPark, 9 L Podolski
Booked Vermaelen (17 foul on Dembele)
(Captain’s armband to Arteta when Vermaelen was substituted and to Mertesacker when Arteta was substituted.)
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Tim Sherwood
25 H Lloris; 2 K Walker, 20 M Dawson (c), 6 V Chiriches, 3 D Rose; 7 A Lennon, 42 N Bentaleb, 19 M Dembélé, 23 C Eriksen; 9 R Soldado (21 N Chadli 63), 10 E Adebayor
Subs Not Used: 24 B Friedel, 35 Z Fryers, 43 R Fredericks, 15 E Capoue, 37 H Kane, 45 J Obika
Emirates Stadium, Attendance: 59,476
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (County Durham),
Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett (Staffordshire),
Peter Kirkup (Northamptonshire),
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
TH White shirts, navy shorts and stockings
A Red shirts with white sleeves, white shorts and stockings
Not Up For The Cup
My thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for this detailed report, which I was unable to complete
Tottenham Hotspur were eliminated at the first hurdle of the FA Cup this year. Their performance on the pitch was somewhat lacking in determination. If this had been an away cup tie against another top team such as Liverpool or Manchester City people probably would have been prepared to excuse it as a reaction to the fine away win at Old Trafford three days previously. However this was no ordinary cup match. It was against our hated local rivals. The day before the game Spurs manager Tim Sherwood the Spurs manager had been quoted as saying “It’s the biggest game possible for this club and it would be fantastic if we could win and perhaps take Tottenham to the final.”
Under the circumstances many Tottenham supporters with consider that the lethargic display was unacceptable.
Tim Sherwood made one change from the successful team that began the game against Manchester United on Wednesday. Nabil Bentaleb came in with Etienne Capoue dropping to the bench. In a game of this magnitude it was surprising that Bentaleb replaced his more experienced compatriot especially considering that during the 64 minutes Capoue played at Old Trafford he was very effective in stifling the opposing midfield.
On Friday the club official website had indicated that Holtby, Defoe and Townsend had all returned to training and that all were in contention to play in this game. Presumably all three most have suffered some sorts of reactions since none of them were included among the substitutes. The seven subs included four relatively inexperienced players Fredericks, Fryers, Kane and Obika. It was clear that Sherwood would not be able to call on an impact player from the bench should he need one.
Arsene Wenger rested a number of regular players including Szczsny, Mertesacker, Gibbs. Ozil and Giroud. Ramsey was injured. Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal and Gnabry were introduced. Walcott was deployed as the lone striker. Given the depth of the Arsenal squad this represented a strong team rather than a reserve side.
The best period for Spurs was the first ten minutes. They won a corner within the first minute. Adebayor made a break from the half way line shortly afterwards but could not create anything. After eight minutes Eriksen picked up a rebound from Koscielny and ran into the box on the left. He was facing the goalkeeper at an angle. He unleashed at shot towards the near post that the goalkeeper pushed round the post. This was one of only two shots on target that Spurs had in the entire game (The other came midway through the second half from Dembele and was easily saved by Fabianski).
Soon afterwards Arsenal mounted their first attack. Gnabry sent Walcott clear. He hit an angled shot that Lloris dived to his right to save. Two minutes later Walcott hit a curling shot which may have been on target but deflected off Chiriches for a corner. From the resulting set piece Gnabry shot narrowly over the bar.
Although a derby game it was generally played in good spirit without nastiness. The only booking came after 14 minutes. Dembele was making a run towards the box when he was bundled over by Vermaelen who was cautioned. Eriksen hit the resulting free kick too high and it went over the bar. Two minutes later Soldado was about to break free when Vermaelen challenged him. Luckily for the latter his timing was right and he won the ball. Had he mistimed the challenge Vermaelen could well have been facing a second yellow card and a sending off.
Throughout the first half Dembele and Wilshere engaged in some minor tribal warfare. It was not too heated. Clattenburg handled the situation well. He had some words with both players while on the run without stopping the game.
After 31 minutes Gnabry made a nice diagonal run from the centre of the pitch. He sent a nice angled ball to Cazorla on the left of the box. The pass set up Cazorla behind the Spurs defenders and he was able to score with an angled shot to the far post.
A few minutes later Wilshere was free in the box on the left. His attempted cross was intercepted by Lloris.
Four minutes before the break Soldado was lucky to escape a booking for a somewhat cynical foul on Wilshere just outside the Spurs box. A couple of minutes later Soldado had the ball of the edge of the Arsenal box. He hit a shot across the goalmouth that went wide.
Per Mertesacker replaced Vermaelen before the start of the second half.
Ten minutes after the break Aaron Lennon teed the ball up nicely for Adebayor in the Arsenal box. It looked like a promising opportunity but Adebayor lost his balance before he could shoot and the ball trickled harmlessly wide. A few minutes later Walcott managed to get between Lloris and Dawson in the Spurs box but his shot hit the side netting.
In the sixty-second minute Rose received the ball in the centre circle. He dallied and allowed Rosicky to relieve him of the ball. The latter ran the length of the Spurs half before firing the ball past Lloris for Arsenal’s second goal. Chadli then replaced Soldado. It seemed like a strange substitution but Sherwood in his post match comments indicated that Soldado was injured. Shortly afterwards Spurs could again have been caught out by a through ball but Lloris advanced from his area to clear under pressure.
Around the three quarter mark two similar incidents occurred. First Monreal advanced into the Spurs box with the ball and went down following a shoulder charge by Walker. Two minutes later the roles were reversed when Walker went down in the Arsenal box under pressure from Monreal. In both cases Clattenburg decided rightly that the challenges were fair. A penalty in either case would have been harsh.
Flamini replaced Wilshere in a tactical switch and then Ozil came on for the injured Arteta.
With fifteen minutes remaining Cazorla had the ball. He looked up to see Lloris off his line. He unleashed a high long-range effort which was well off target. A minute later Walcott was through after a mistake by Chiriches but shot narrowly wide.
With ten minutes left Walcott went down after a tackle by Rose. He had to be stretchered off. As he was being carried past the away supporters he earned their displeasure by holding up his fingers to indicate a 2-0 score-line. It was a provocative and unnecessary gesture.
Arsenal were reduced to ten men since they had used all of their substitutes. This should have been the signal for the Spurs team to raise their game and try to reduce the deficit and regain a little local pride. While Spurs did enjoy more possession during the time remaining they could not create a single shot on goal. Indeed Arsenal had the best effort during this period when Ozil was through but Lloris deflected the ball for a corner.
During the time added on Bentaleb and Monreal went down following a challenge near the Arsenal box. When Bentaleb got up he stamped his foot on the grass very close to Monreal’s hand. While he did not touch him it was a petulant gesture unworthy of a Spurs player. He is still young and will hopefully grow out of this sort of thing.
This was a game of few opportunities. It turned on Gnabry’s defence splitting pass to Cazorla and Rose’s horrible mistake in the second half. Arsenal’s five man midfield did enjoy more possession than Spurs four man equivalent.
Spurs were a bit lethargic and I cannot really think of any Spurs player who deserved to be singled out for praise. Before the game Sherwood had identified Adebayor as the player who might be able to turn the game. However it was not his day. He received a hostile reception throughout being booed every time he touched the ball.
In a sense history was against Spurs since Wenger has never lost a third round FA Cup tie. However that would have made a win all the sweeter had it happened.
At present Rose’s career is defined by his appearances against Arsenal. He will always be remembered for his wonderful goal against Arsenal on his debut in April 2010. However he will now equally be remembered for the unforced error that led to Arsenal’s second goal today.
Spurs have now been eliminated from the two domestic cup competitions, Sherwood’s only defeats to date as manager. However there is still much to play for. Champion’s League qualification is still a possibility and success in the Europa League would also be very welcome. Next Saturday’s home league game against Crystal Palace is an important one. Their new manager Tony Pulis plays dour boring football and has extracted two draws and a win against Spurs at White Hart Lane in recent years with his former team Stoke. So a return to winning ways is important and should be achievable.
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