Tottenham v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
White Hart Lane
Kick off: March 16, 2014 4.00 PM BST
The North London derby is certainly one of the most tension filled games you will ever see, tackles flying in all over the place, hearts racing during every attack. Arsenal did enough to snatch a win in today’s game, but it was certainly no easy task.
Rosicky’s goal was the difference between the two sides, but in all honesty it was the Gunners’ centre backs that assured them all three points. It was a fantastic performance from the two Arsenal men, shepherding Adebayor well and getting their heads on everything that was thrown into the box.
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Arsenal took the lead through Tomas Rosicky after just seventy three seconds, an absolutely stunning strike from the Czech international. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seemed to be continuing his form from Munich, charging through midfield at the Spurs defence. He managed to pull off a makeshift one-two with Rosicky as he cut in from the right wing, the experienced Gunner lashing the ball first time as it dropped for him. The ball flew like a rocket, giving Lloris no chance as it shot across the face of goal and into the top corner. A fantastic strike from Rosicky, 1-0 Arsenal.
You would assume that this fantastic start would fill Arsenal with confidence, but it was Tottenham that was seeing the lion’s share of possession, slowly applying more pressure on the Arsenal defence.
Arsenal were set up to counter, and with a quarter of an hour gone it looked sure to be 2-0. It was Chamberlain pulling the strings yet again, tearing away from Bentaleb with a fantastic first touch, and breaking beyond the Spurs back line. One-on-one with Lloris, he looked certain to score, but he failed to keep his composure and wasted the chance. He had Podolski in support to his left, and it was unclear whether he attempted a chip over Lloris or a cheeky pass to his team mate. Either way, all he managed was a tame mishit which sailed wide of the goal.
He was fantastic in midfield for the rest of the match, but his end product was not up to scratch. He wasted two more decent chances, lashing a Podolski cut back wide, and blasting a Rosicky pass into row Z. You can tell he is not yet a natural finisher, but the potential he is showing on top of the ability he already has is astounding.
Adebayor was the biggest threat from Tottenham, looking to receive early crosses into the box and over the top, and looking lively for the home side. He was caught offside a couple of times, but he certainly looked capable of causing the Arsenal back line some problems.
Podolski was coming to life in short bursts, making good runs behind the Spurs defence. He was set free during one such run, and got into a similar shooting position as he did for his goal against Bayern. He was under pressure from Kaboul this time however, and lashed his shot into the side netting.
We reached half time with Rosicky’s goal the difference maker, but Tottenham had looked like the dominant team for most of the half, and you would have expected Arsenal to change things for the second forty five.
It was more of the same from Tottenham however, and having had relatively little to do in the first half, Wojciech Szczesny almost gifted them an equaliser early on in the second. He dropped a catch after seemingly being fouled by Adebayor, almost giving Spurs a shot on an open goal. Then possibly in an attempt to redeem himself, he tried to catch a difficult ball into the box, instead dropping a second ball at the feet of Nacer Chadli. The Spurs man got the ball under control, but Mertesacker and Koscielny stood guard on the goal line superbly, the French centre half eventually putting a brilliant block in to deny the Belgian. Chadli then failed to connect with a Townsend cross hit slightly behind him, Arsenal lucky to still be in the lead by all accounts.
Throughout most of the second half Arsenal were defending like there were only ten minutes to go. Hoofing the ball up-field and failing to get any decent spells of possession. When the Gunners did get hold of the ball, players like Cazorla and Arteta who you would normally expect to distribute the ball intelligently, were instead hitting wayward passes and allowing the Spurs attacks to start over again.
Arsenal had a penalty shout turned down late on, Koscielny dragged down in the box by Vertonghen. It was a clear penalty, but those kinds of fouls are very rarely given in the Premier League nowadays. If we want to stamp that kind of thing out, we really need to start punishing it, but it’s something that happens all too often in today’s game
Arsenal’s defenders were not only resolute at the back, but were looking the most likely to extend the Gunners’ lead in the second half too. Mertesacker seeing a snap shot saved by a superb reaction save, after Koscielny knocked the ball down for his defensive partner.
It was a tense end to the game for Arsenal, but eventually the whistle went; Wenger’s men taking all three points despite a lacklustre performance from most of the team.
on a huge a result…
It is a huge result. We were under pressure to win before the game because of course it was a very important game. After that it was a mixture, our early goal a little bit influenced too much the way we played because we missed the second goal and after that we wanted to protect the lead. Sometimes we were under pressure, Tottenham played well you must say. For me they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it. As long as we didn’t score the second goal of course it was a very tight game. But in the end for us it’s three massive points.
on Mertesakcer and Koscielny…
They were exceptional for the whole game. They were already at Bayern I think and even after when Vermaelen came on we finished with the three [centre-backs] and they didn’t create the chances anymore.
on Mertesacker and Koscielny’s partnership…
I think so. Today you needed to be top because Adebayor was sharp and up for it, like he always is against us. He had a great game Adebayor and overall we needed a good defensive performance and that of course goes through our two centre backs.
on the bond between the players and the supporters…
You go in the dressing room and you know that it means a lot because we know we needed the three points. We had a disappointing result at Stoke and I think that was still in our mind. Overall we know to stay in the race it was vital to win. Our away fans have been brilliant since the start of the season.
on the title race…
It gets us a bit closer to Chelsea and makes the game next week even more interesting. We are now back to four points, we have a game in hand and we have played two away games on the trot because Swansea was postponed so we have five games at home. We’ll see, it makes the next game a very big one.
on the next two games being against direct rivals…
The next game will have a vital importance. I believe as well we came out of three games, Everton, Bayern and today where mentally every time you have to be absolutely focused. That’s where I think our defenders have done extremely well because there is no ordinary moment in a game like that and they managed to keep their focus up completely for 90 minutes in every single game.
on whether he has spoken to Bendtner…
No I will speak to him on Tuesday. He wasn’t well so I will meet him on Tuesday.
on Rosicky’s goal…
It will go in my collection of great goals. I told Tomas that because first of all he’s not a typical goalscorer and he surprised everybody. He had not even time to realise what he was doing and it was in the back of the net. It was an unbelievable goal.
on whether the goal was in his top five…
I don’t know. My memory is not big enough to collect just goal but it’s one of the top goals that we’ve scored this season.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
“Pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my arm celebrating that.”
“So casual from us. Do they know it’s the derby.”
“Miraculously, there have been 300 consecutive mins of North London derby football since Spurs scored.”
“Even if God doesn’t exist, he’s created more than Arsenal have in this second half.”
“Remember those first 73 seconds? They were nice, weren’t they?!”
“This is it. This is the one that kills us all.”
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Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
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