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Spurs v Arsenal, 16.03.14

(4 PM)

Rosicky, 2

Attendance:- 35,711

Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- J Collin & M McDonough
Fourth official:- A Marriner

Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Sandro (sub Paulinho, 68); Townsend, Bentaleb, Chadli (sub Sigurdsson, 69), Eriksen (sub Soldado, 82); Adebayor

Subs not used:- Friedel; Walker; Lennon; Kane

Booked:- Chadli (foul on Rosicky), Sandro (foul on Rosicky), Vertonghen (foul on Cazorla), Rose (foul on Giroud), Soldado (foul on Vermaelen)

Arsenal (4-1-4-1):- Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta (Capt.); Rosicky (sub Flamini, 69), Oxlade-Chamberlain (sub Vermaelen, 85) , Cazorla, Podolski (sub Monreal, 77); Giroud

Subs not used:- Fabianski; Sanogo, Jenkinson, Gnabry

Booked:- Sagna (foul on Rose), Gibbs (foul on Townsend), Flamini (foul on Eriksen)

The unforgiven Nacer Chadli

Heís been a scapegoat of many Spurs fans for quite a while already, but Nacer Chadliís name is surely implanted upon the memories of Spurs fans for missing what was a potential hat-trick early in the second half. Rosicky had given the visitors the lead and the only goal of the match after only 72 seconds, when an intended cross ricocheted back to him, and he rifled in a powerful drive past the shocked Hugo Lloris. Spurs then dominated possession, but that man Chadli will be cast as the villain of the piece for his early second half profligacy.

Tim Sherwood is also becoming more and more castigated by Spurs fans who do not understand his apparent man-love of Nabil Bentaleb, nor his choice of Chadli over say Paulinho, and then to play Chadli in a central position rather than Eriksen, who was on the left. Sherwood has now overseen three consecutive defeats. Funnily enough the last time this happened to Spurs was March last year under Andre Villas-Boas. It was the exact same week last year.

Spurs have now lost three consecutive games to Arsenal. Thatís a first since 1989, and it was also Arsenalís first league win at White Hart Lane for six and a half years. Rosickyís goal set off the Arsenal fansí gloating and crowing about such things as Sherwood being a gooner.

Despite what the majority will feel about Chadli, I felt he had some decent chances in the first half, turning up across the midfield. I thought that Naughton and Townsend combined well down the right flank, but whilst Spurs did dominate possession, with both full backs advancing deep into Arsenal territory, that left the Spurs defence exposed to break-outs, with Kaboul in particular struggling for pace in such incidences. Indeed, Oxlade-Chamberlain, playing a deeper and more central role than usual could/should have added to Rosickyís goal, but he too showed an ability to flap in front of goal.

Oxlade- Chamberlainís first chance came after Arsenal broke following no foul being awarded in favour of Chadli, who had gone down on the edge of the box. Bentaleb failed in the middle and Oxlade-Chamberlain was away with only Lloris to beat. He tried a lob, which passed outside the post. Naughton and Townsend on the right worked an opening and Townsend crossed with Adebayor not getting quite close enough to the ball.

Danny Rose was being heavily targeted by Sagna, who got a yellow card and words from referee Mike Dean after 21 minutes. Sandro got a good ball through the middle to Adebayor, who tried a clever overhead kick, which went over the bar. Adebayor had been flagged offside anyway. Podolski got away down the left flank ad crossed for Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose shot caught a deflection and won a corner. At the other end, Townsend fed Naughton who got to the bye-line and crossed to the near post, where Adebayorís effort was glanced wide across the goal.

Eriksen had a free kick go over the target, following a foul on Naughton, before Chadli went into the book for a heavy-handed tackle on Rosicky. Arsenalís left back Kieran Gibbs crossed to Podolski who got goal-side of Kaboul, but fired into the side-netting. Chadli had a half chance at the other end, but fired wide across the goalkeeperís right post. Oxlade-Chamberlain had another chance, presented by Rosicky, but scooped the shot over. It made me hope that Oxlade-Chamberlain does not get into the England side in the summer, at least not for his lack of scoring prowess.

Gibbs also saw yellow before the break, so both Arsenalís full backs had been booked.

Spurs came out full of intent after the break, and that intent should have been converted to goals by Chadli. Szczesny fumbled a Townsend cross but his defence came to the rescue whilst Chadli fluffed his lines. Chadli was even presented with a second chance inside the area in no time at all, but also failed to score with his shot blocked, when he could have picked his spot.

Sandro got his customary booking (5 in 5 games) for a foul on Rosicky, before Chadli was the victim of cat-calls after another miss. Adebayor and Townsend had created the opportunity. It was Townsendís cross and Chadli was in front of goal, trying a clever flick, which was a quite embarrassing failure, and needed a more solid touch. Bentaleb crossed the ball from deep on the left and Adebayor climbed to head the ball just wide at the far post.

Sherwood replaced Sandro with Paulinho, and Chadli with Sigurdsson. I felt that the Spurs threat faded after the substitutions with Sigurdsson making little impression for me. Bentaleb took over the more defensive midfield role with Sandroís departure. Arsene Wengerís substitution strategy seemed to be to keep adding defensive players, with an intent to defend their one goal lead.

Hugo Lloris made a great save diving low to his right to not only stop a shot by Mertesacker, but to hold it as well. In the closing stages, Bentaleb had an attempt blocked, and Adebayor had a shot well saved by Szczesny diving to his left. The shot came at a good height for the keeper. Adebayor had been fed by a Paulinho ball.

It was a spirited effort by Spurs today, but of course there is no worse feeling than losing another London Derby. Spurs have reverted to type, consistently losing to top four sides. Apart from Arsenal, most have been heavy defeats as well, and we have a trip to Anfield to face in a couple of weeks. Arsenal remain in the title race, and the top four look to be established to me, whilst Spurs might now struggle to hold onto even a Europa League qualification place. They remain fifth at present, but both Everton and Man Utd have games in hand. Why, Spurs even have negative goal difference now. Thatís unprecedented for a top five side, isnít it?

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