Arsenal’s inconsistent away form continues as we failed to complete back to back wins on the road, something we’re yet to do at all this season.
It was a feisty affair full of controversy. Well, full of pathetic Spuds falling like flies diving all over the show. But the crux of the problem lies in Arsenal’s defence and midfield which was shambolic to say the least. The inability to close them down and our wasteful clearances were particularly frustrating.
Danny Welbeck was our main attacking outlet for much of the game and was a surprising yet well chosen starter by Arsene Wenger. At least for the first period. For the absolutely superb opener, the Englishman sped away from Danny Rose and crossed for Olivier Giroud whose ‘deft touch’/shank of a shot found Mesut Ozil who slotted home emphatically on the volley. We were off to a flying start.
Then frustratingly we weren’t given a penalty after 15 minutes from a Mason handball. You see those awarded on another day and that could have easily changed the complexion of the game. Atkinson missed a lot. It was some poor officiating not just from the referee but the linesman also. But they cannot be blamed for the defeat, it was our own doing.
I didn’t think the first half was all that bad despite a lot of criticism from supporters. Certainly the hosts had some good chances and worked David Ospina, but we had our fair share of possession and opportunities ourselves. Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin were bossing it for awhile, dictating the tempo. But they slowly lost their way as Spurs grew in confidence and the game shifted in their favour.
Ramsey actually enjoyed a good first half I thought. Some slick touches in the midfield and he created a few chances when he opened up Spur’s midfield. He completed 80% of his passes in the first 45 minutes but was completely overrun in the second and was very sloppy. He should’ve been more aware of Harry Kane at the back post too and that is the frustration about this Arsenal side – they just switch off.
Continuously we were guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply. The main reason we were able to soak up the pressure against City is we were compact and worked as a unit. Instead we were completely cut apart by players such as Mason and Bentaleb. Eriksen was superb and was everything Santi Cazorla has been for us recently, unfortunately our number 10 was a shadow of the player he has been of late.
If it hadn’t been for David Ospina, the score line could have been far worse. The Colombian made some fantastic saves to prevent blushes for our defence on several occasions. Bar the terribly timed aerial challenge and shanked clearance toward the end of the first half, the Colombian was assured between the sticks but could do nothing about the two goals. Much of that was done to the players ahead of him.
Laurent Koscielny didn’t have his best game. A few poorly timed challenges and the lack of attempt to challenge Kane for the winner is not acceptable. Although was poor positioning and awareness from the Frenchman, but it was a hell of a header.
We certainly missed Alexis Sanchez, and while Welbeck justified his inclusion in patches in the first half, Walcott should have been introduced earlier as he would’ve torn Danny Rose apart. He didn’t really have enough time to get involved and we hardly had time on the ball. The Spurs fullback was absolutely appalling in defence and we should’ve exploited that weakness far more than we were able to.
That said, Walcott should’ve shut down Bentaleb for Kane’s winner. Why we stood off Spurs time and time again is frustrating. Especially considering our win over City where our so called ‘Away Match Blueprint’ gave us hope we could be united and defensively solid. That went out the window when we afforded Spurs the opportunities.
It was a questionable decision to take off Santi considering how good he’s been recently as if anyone was going to spark some magic it was the little Spaniard. Coquelin and Ramsey were completely overrun in the second half and the Welshman struggled to replicate the tempo and accuracy in his passing from the first. Tomas Rosicky would have been a sensible choice a little earlier in place of Ramsey to add a little more dynamism into the engine room. However it was clear Wenger was happy with the draw but we threw that one away.
The match certainly felt as if we were playing against an inferior side that were playing out of their skin. They’re no better than us. We were poor yesterday, they buried their chances. Don’t look at this match in isolation. The Gunners have been superb recently and there are always bad days at the office, this football. We’ve still got plenty to look forward to and it begins again on Tuesday night when Leicester come to town. North London is still red, St Totteringham’s day will still be celebrated like it is every year.