As Andre Villas-Boas and Arsène spoke of their belief that tomorrow’s match will be won by the opposites of emotion and calm focus, Santi Cazorla surveyed the English game, agreed with both, proclaimed us all mad but he loves it,
Compared to Spain, the football here is less tactical, but more fun to watch and play. There’s too much technique in Spain and they are held back by it. This makes the match more boring. There’s a better pace in England. There’s also more space, especially for footballers like me, and more time to think. Teams always want to attack and score goals in England. In Spain they are locked down by tactics. And the atmosphere here is just amazing.
The choice of words in describing Spanish football is interesting, similar to those used by Italians and others to describe Serie A as its dominance of European club football declined. He also underlines why English clubs struggle at times to adapt to the world game; unless buses are parked on the pitch, the lack of pace in the matches undoes them. But that is for another day, tomorrow’s North London Derby will see the pace of the English game ratcheted up as Tottenham seek the win that in all likelihood would see them finish above Arsenal in the league for the first time since 1995, the ignominious end of George Graham’s reign had passed in tatters to Bruce Rioch via Stewart Houston. That is an object lesson for anyone who thinks that this squad is too good to do any other than finish high in the league. The infamous back five, Wright and to a lesser extent, Alan Smith were a good set of players; you can have as much talent as you want but it does not mean that the whole is going to perform.
Cazorla’s form has been encouraging for his first season in English football, already his most productive in front of goal with 11 surpassing his previous best during his short spell on the Costa del Sol. His abilities drew praise from Lukas Podolski – and a superb sense of humour from the headline writer – and reflect the importance of the Spaniard to Arsenal. In tandem with Jack Wilshere, there is an urgency introduced to the play, more of an appearance of intent behind their actions. Perhaps it is the scurrying style across the turf that brings on that view, an insistence that the ball be given to them in order that the pair might move the attack forwards. Wilshere certainly drew praise from his teammate, being described as a Spanish-style of player is high praise at the moment. When that nation’s moment has passed, I suppose we will be ascribing Teutonic or Samba characteristics to our most talented individuals.
Either way, the pair alongside Walcott, Podolski and Giroud offer a different attacking threat than Tottenham have faced in recent seasons; variety. Perhaps for the first time since 2007/08, Arsenal arrive at White Hart Lane unreliant upon one player, a possible reason for the poor run of results at that ground. You cannot have everything though, unbeaten for nine seasons from the turn of this century is a record that at some point will come to an end as did the enviable unbeaten record against Chelsea. Football is cyclical at every level.
Cazorla though is not standing for any notion that this game in unimportant,
This is a very important match for us with regard to the Champions League. If we lose it would be a difference of seven points, too big a gap.
His 100% winning record at Tottenham is not something he will want to surrender tomorrow. I would not agree entirely that seven points is too much, especially since the run-ins are markedly different with Spurs have the tougher games ahead of them. Considering that they are unbeaten in the Premier League since December, to be only four points ahead of Arsenal must be preying on them mentally, if not the players then certainly the supporters. Perhaps it is a defence mechanism which makes them still think they will finish below Arsenal. Or is our defence mechanism to still believe that Arsenal are superior. Both points of view have historical substance.