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Spurs v Arsenal, 15.01.23


Lloris (o.g.),14
Odegaard, 36

Attendance:- 61,870

Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Marc Perry, Scott Ledger
Fourth official:- Darren England
VAR:- Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR:- Constantine Hatzidakis.

Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Romero, Dier, Lenglet (sub Davies, 88); Doherty (sub Richarlison, 71), Sarr (sub Bissouma, 76), Hojbjerg, Sessegnon (sub Perisic, 76); Kulusevski (sub Gil,88), Kane, Son

Subs not used:- Forster; Sanchez; Emerson Royal, Skipp

Booked:- Romero (foul on Martinelli), Sessegnon (foul on Saka), Sarr (foul on Martinelli), Lenglet (foul on Odegaard)

Arsenal (4-3-3):- Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (sub Tomiyasu, 86); Odegaard (Capt.) (sub Fabio Vieira, 90+4), Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Nketiah (sub Smith-Rowe, 90+3), Martinelli (sub Tierney, 79)
(Armband to Xhaka)

Subs not used:- Turner; Holding; Marquinhos, Sambi Lokonga, Smith

Booked:- Martinelli (foul on Sarr), Gabriel (Time wasting)

Worst fears realised

Spurs v Arsenal, 15.01.23

My worst fears were realised, and by the end of the first half when Premier League table-toppers Arsenal racked up what proved to be an unassailable lead. They also have an eight-point lead at the top over Champions Manchester City, and on this form that too may be unbeatable. Arsenal do still have to play City twice, plus a meeting in the next round of the FA Cup.

Arsenal were helped on their way by Hugo Lloris’s first own goal in 354 Premier League games, and a poor all-round performance by the home side. Our worst enemies have achieved a league double over us for the first time since 2013-14. Hugo gifted a goal in our last home league game (also a defeat by Aston Villa) and recently announced his retirement from International football. On this form, his Spurs days might be numbered. Spurs have lost four of their last five home league games and we are now five points behind fourth placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand. We’d better make the best use of this year’s Champions League experience, because it does not look as if it will be repeated next season.

We were mystified by the selection of Ryan Sessegnon at left wing-back in favour of Ivan Perisic. Our theory was that Conte wanted Sessegnon’s youth and pace to match that of his opponent Bukayo Saka, but his plan failed as did Sessegnon, both defensively and too often when attacking too. Playing Doherty on the left (as has happened previously this season), or even Ben Davies, (who is a left back!) might have worked better.

We had hoped to see Bentancur in the team, but he did not make the squad. Richarlison was on the bench and replaced Doherty late in the game. Spurs rallied in the second half and actually had more shots on goal(on and off target) than the visitors, but those statistics meant nothing in the end.

A rogue Spurs supporter tarnished our reputation at the final whistle when he kicked Ramsdale in the back. Spurs can surely expect to be punished for failing to control their fans. There was a melee, but both sets of players were seeking to protect the Arsenal goalkeeper and once the melee was over the Arsenal team raced off to the north-east corner where their fans had been celebrating all game really. The Arsenal sticker boys had been operating in various locations with "Won the League at the Lane in 71 and 04". Sadly, I witnessed both occasions and witnessing any Arsenal team beat Spurs is distressing for this fan at any time.

The pubs had been heaving and it was virtually a sell-out crowd. Spurs did their best to wind up the atmosphere with a “Heart of North London” light show, but the Arsenal team soon kept the home fans sadly quiet.

Arsenal kicked off and played towards the South Stand, occupying the Spurs half for three minutes begore we staged an attack with Kane sending Sessegnon forward down the left wing. Sessegnon’s cross was sadly lacking the quality we get from Perisic.

Spurs were soon exposed when the pacy Martinelli chipped a ball to Nketiah whose shot was saved by Lloris. An Arsenal free kick taken by Odegaard was headed over by Partey, who was booed by Spurs fans with his every touch for something he was alleged to have done, but which has never been tested in a court of law.

Craig Pawson was soon upsetting Spurs fans with decisions that seemingly favoured the visitors. A deliberate handball by Partey did not bring out aa yellow card. We had the worst start possible when Saka was away down the right flank and hit a low cross past Sessegnon which was diverted into his net by Lloris at the left-hand post.

Sessegnon did find Son with a cross at the other end, but Son’s shot was saved low by Ramsdale. Lloris was challenged to a greater degree by a better effort from Odegaard, pushing the shot around the post for a corner. Lloris was beaten by Partey’s 25-yarder but saw the ball rebound off his left post.

Arsenal were all over us like flies up and down the pitch and Spurs had insufficient in midfield to prevent their attacks. Spurs also lacked the guile to find a way past them in the Arsenal half.

Romero (who else) was the first in Mr. Pawson’s book for a foul on Martinelli before Odegaard scored Arsenal’s second goal in the 36th minute. Arsenal soon bounced forward after a Lloris long ball, which his players failed to control. Saka was sent clear down the right flank and passed inside to his captain who scored with his left foot from 25 yards. This was all too easy.

Spurs mustered a decent effort on goal in added time after Hojbjerg crossed from the right and Kane’s glanced header was saved by Ramsdale. We had been hoping that today might have been the day for Harry to equal, then perhaps beat Jimmy Greaves’ record, but we will have to wait for that.

Spurs kicked off the second half and for the umpteenth time this season, at least managed a performance with the degree of effort that was required from the outset. Kulusevski (who never looked at his best) had an early shot over the far corner and when he passed inside to Kane, Harry hit a right-footed shot that Ramsdale pushed around the post. Another attack came down the left flank with Son sending Sessegnon away. Ryan passed inside to Kane, taking his return pass, and advancing into the box, hitting a slow shot which Ramsdale saved with his feet. Kane also had a header comfortably saved after Son’s cross.

Sarr was booked for a foul on Martinelli. Both sides’ subs were warming up near the touchline down the north-west corner amongst whom was Richarlison. He was getting uncomfortably close to opponents taking throw-ins (Partey likes a long throw) and he even wound up his fellow Brazilian Martinelli at one stage.

Kulusevski had another effort pass wide of the target before Nketiah got on the end of a Martinelli cross, but shot tamely at Hugo. A shot by Sessegnon after a Kulusevski cross nearly went out for a throw-in. Lloris saved again from Nketiah after another Martinelli cross.

Conte took off Doherty for Richarlison with Kulusevski nominally our right wing-back now. Sessegnon was replaced by Perisic and Bissouma replaced Sarr.

Odegaard was fouled on the edge of the box. Xhaka hit the free kick over the target. Arteta took off an attacker (Martinelli) for a defender (Tierney). Spurs were hitting balls in and around the box, but with insufficient control. Richarlison finally had a shot on target after receiving from Son, but Ramsdale was equal to his effort. Son had a shot deflected out of play after a Kane long ball, and he also had a free kick blocked after which a low Kulusevski shot skidded along the floor through legs and was held by Ramsdale.

The five minutes added time was not enough for Spurs to hurt the Arsenal defence. Most of the South Stand had been emptied of its "wall of sound" anyway.

Our next port of call is The Etihad on Thursday. Ho hum.

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