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Arsenal v Spurs, 06.11.16

(12 noon)

Arsenal scorer:-
Wimmer (o.g.), 42

Spurs scorer:-
Kane (pen), 51

Attendance:- 60,039

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistants: J Collin, S Bennett
Fourth official: A Marriner

Arsenal (4-2-3-1):- Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny (Capt.), Monreal; Coquelin (sub Ramsey, 65), Xhaka; Walcott (sub Oxlade-Chamberlain, 71), Ozil, Iwobi (sub Giroud, 70); Sanchez

Subs not used:- Ospina; Gibbs, Gabriel; Elneny

Booked:- Koscielny (foul on Kane)

Spurs (3-4-1-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Wimmer, Vertonghen; Walker (sub Trippier, 80), Dembele, Wanyama, Rose; Eriksen; Son (sub Winks, 89); Kane (sub Janssen, 73)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Carter-Vickers; NKoudou, Onomah

Booked:- Wimmer (foul on Coquelin), Dier (holding ball after foul)

Unbeaten record maintained, and pride restored!

At half-time, I tweeted these words:-

"Not good enough for top four on this showing. Look how THEY find space and GO FORWARD"

My reason for this comment was the fact that in the first half, Spurs had too often played their tentative and unadventurous passing game, allowing their opponents to get men behind the ball, and often to double up on the man in possession. On the other hand, Arsenal often had four runners making space to chase and often reach balls passed over the Spurs defence. Both teams carried some threat on goal, but Arsenal had taken a half-time lead from Kevin Wimmer’s unfortunate own goal.

Early in the second half, I tweeted these words:-

“Feeling better about my team now".

The reason for that was a more determined, and forward-moving approach, often putting the Arsenal defence under pressure, rewarded when Harry Kane scored from the spot in the 51st minute.

Yes, Harry Kane returned to action for the first time in 6 weeks, and whilst he didn’t last the whole game, his presence must have given the team some confidence. Sadly, they did have to manage without Dele Alli, who was withdrawn late through an injury, about which we know nothing as yet, although rumours suggested he might be out for weeks. We’ll wait and see on that.

Another piece of good news for Spurs was the fact that Mauricio Pochettino does have a “Plan B”, which he executed successful, bearing in mind the deserved and credit-worthy point obtained. No doubt influenced by the Chelsea approach, “Poch” played three at the back (Dier, Wimmer, and Vertonghen), with full backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose in front and either side of Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama. The full backs provided our width as usual, and when we defended, we became five at the back, although not always. Christian Eriksen played behind Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, and he too played with more vigour and better results than of late.

Arsenal played a 4-2-3-1, with 2006 “World Cup Tourist” Walcott, Ozil and 20 year old Alex Iwobi playing behind Alexis Sanchez. Iwobi showed a degree of inexperience and ineptitude at times, but he still carried a pacy threat down the wing. Any of the Arsenal front four could get behind the Spurs defence with their runs after those chipped passes.

The game was preceded by “The Last Post” and a moment’s silence (literally a moment!) as both clubs and fans impeccably paid respect to the fallen, as is traditional at all grounds on the approach to Remembrance Day, which falls next Sunday.

Normal hostilities were resumed between the fans once respect had been paid.

It was a chilly but sunny day and the home team kicked off playing towards the South Stand. Proving the advanced role of our full backs, after just two minutes, Danny Rose crossed and Kyle Walker headed over towards the back of goal. Son soon also had a run down the left flank, came inside and hot a cross/shot wide across the goalmouth. Spurs gave us early optimism.

However, Kevin Wimmer (making his first Premier League start of the season) got an early booking after a foul on the up-ended Coquelin. More good news for Spurs fans was the fact that both Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose avoided bookings which would have meant suspension for the West Ham game in two weeks’ time.

After 18 minutes, Iwobi had freedom on the Arsenal left flank and crossed deep for Sanchez, but Danny Rose had “done enough” to put off the Arsenal striker, with the ball running harmlessly out of play for a goal kick. Victor Wanyama (having such a good first season with Spurs) got forward on the left and passed diagonally to Eriksen. He in turn fed Walker, who returned the ball before Eriksen took a shot on goal, missing the far post by only a couple of feet. Spurs defended stoutly at the other end, particularly Danny Rose, but eventually the ball did fall for Sanchez, who hit his shot well over. Kyle Walker needed treatment soon after this. Hugo Lloris’s clearances were too often coming straight back in our direction, and this was the case whether we tried long or short clearances. On one such occasion, Sanchez fed the ball to Ozil, who fired high in front of goal. Soon after that both Ozil and Sanchez made a break clear with Sanchez giving Iwobi a chance, but his shot was too easy for Lloris.

Arsenal were too often getting too many men in the box, and on another occasion Walcott’s effort was put out for a corner. Another Walcott effort, this time from the right side, beat Lloris, but not his left post. The ball rebounded clear off the post. At this stage, Spurs became most frustrating. For example, Dembele hit a pass into our area for Arsenal, but somehow we recovered possession and got clear. After a free kick out on the flank, taken by Ozil, Koscielny rose to challenge, but it was Kevin Wimmer’s attempted diving header clearance which hit Hugo’s net. Frustration came for Spurs fan when a rare forward pass by Dembele gave us possession in a dangerous area, but referee Mark Clattenburg spotted a fallen Arsenal player, and blew his whistle for safety reasons. He ignored a similar attempt in the second half by Danny Rose to win such attention when Arsenal attacked!

Before the break, there was a melee near the half-way line as Arsenal players surrounded Jan Vertonghen after a foul. The referee had “words” with both Vertonghen and Sanchez.

Spurs played with more purpose and with clear attacking intent from the outset in the second half, and had the home side on the back foot a lot of the time in the first period. Son raced onto a Dembele ball and got into the box, but Arsenal managed to clear. Soon after that a forward run by Dembele was brought to a halt just inside the box by Koscielny and referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Similarly, Harry Kane had no hesitation in taking on the penalty spot challenge, beating Cech, who had dived to his left too early.

After 54 minutes, Kane sent in a ball from the inside right position. Son challenged and the ball ran to Eriksen, whose shot was well saved by Cech, at the cost of a corner. Spurs had their tails up, and the fans sniffed possible glory. Another Spurs attack came from a break by Eriksen, with Son beside him. Danny Rose crossed deep from the left and Harry Kane was challenged at the back post, with the ball going just wide and out for a goal-kick. Eriksen had a shot go over from outside the area, after Danny Rose’s pass inside.

Koscielny was carded for a foul on Kane and Eriksen took a free kick from 28 yards out, chipping the ball for Dier’s run, but the ball ran out of play. With twenty minutes left, Arsenal had made all three substitutions and were urgently seeking the three points which might have taken them to the top of the table. Giroud came on to re-inforce the attack, whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Walcott. Immediately, Giroud (who has scored three goals in the last week) offered the aerial threat that Mr. Wenger sought, and the pressure on goal seemed to be more at the wrong end for Spurs fans. Dier missed a cross but Lloris was out to the feet of Ozil.

Now Harry Kane was replaced by Janssen, who showed plenty of effort, but was too often frustrated by the referee spotting his infringements. Bellerin had a shot which ran to Lloris off Kyle Walker. At the other end, Eriksen sent a good ball to Janssen in the Arsenal area. Janssen had a chance to take the ball forward, but defaulted to a sideways move and lost the ball. Kyle Walker was replaced by a masked Kieran Trippier, and one wonders how the Spurs full back sustained his injury. Now it was Spurs’ turn to hit the woodwork, as Eriksen hit a long free kick from the left flank. Eric Dier challenged for the ball, but the ball hit Cech’s back post and went clear.

It was Arsenal’s turn to put pressure on the Spurs goal, but Spurs came back, and as Cech stumbled well outside his area, Son was not sufficiently aware or able to take advantage of the keeper’s discomfort. Spurs were defending stoutly in front of their goal, with Wimmer making a vital block, and at the other end, Eriksen hit another great ball with Janssen’s shot saved. Janssen may well have been flagged offside at this point. Finally, Lloris held a Giroud header.

This was Spurs’ third successive league draw against their rivals, and the fifth such Premier League game without defeat, all achieved with Pochettino at the helm. Pride was most certainly restored, and again without several key players (Alderweireld, Alli, Lamela, Sissoko). The unbeaten record in league matches continues, but that does consist of 5 wins and 6 draws. Whilst we are secure in fifth, we are now three points behind the top four. Once again, two of the top four have won well this week-end, and scored goals galore (Chelsea and Liverpool).

Still, I do feel much better going into this third international break of the season than I expected, and I do relish our next London Derby, at home to West Ham in two weeks’ time!

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