Spurs Review: What A Load Of Old…

Arsenal 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

3-4-3, the new tactic to stifle Arsenal. Theo Walcott admitted as much afterwards:

“Middlesbrough did that against us and you now see a lot of teams doing that.”

Tottenham playing it was a bolt from the blue according to Walcott though. It took them by surprise and about half of the first forty-five minutes to get to grips with. Truth be told the twenty minutes leading into half-time was about the only portion of the game where we played anywhere near the levels we’re capable of reaching.

It’s  a point and we’re just off the pace, two points behind Liverpool. In our comfort zone, if you like: fourth is a familiar place to be.

Just as it’s so typical of Tottenham to be unbeaten yet behind us, it’s typical of Arsenal to cock it up when the top of the table beckons. Not that it would have been anything more than a fleeting stay; Watford’s capitulation at Anfield meant Liverpool would have overtaken us anyway. Even so, a win over Tottenham going into the international break would have put a spring into everyone’s step.

There weren’t any outstanding performances and a few below par but mostly it underlined how pivotal to the team Santi Cazorla is. Arsène post-match offered the view that we were flat, uninspired. Probably because we have two passers in midfield rather than a dribbler; it was ‘predictable’ what the central midfielders would do once they had the ball and ‘easy’ to counter.

Arsène lamented how the half-time lead was let slip. ‘The Wimmer Takes It All’ has to wait for another day but the goal, as much as the source, was a surprise. Theo Walcott’s thunderous drive aside, Arsenal had threatened without genuine chances being created. Given the gift of the own goal, it was disappointing to find the second half started in much the same way as the first: Arsenal were a pale imitation of themselves.

When the penalty came, I was already resigned to the fate that we would only get a point out of the game. It wasn’t until the final fifteen minutes or so that we really came alive. There’s no argument with the referee’s decision to penalise Koscielny although why Clattenburg hadn’t awarded Arsenal a spot kick earlier is beyond me. I always thought swapping shirts in a football match took place at the end of the ninety minutes; Koscielny’s is obviously sought after because the defence was grabbing onto it for dear life.

Kent Walton could have introduced yesterday, Grapple fans.

Arsène, bless him, tried to sound hard done by at the decision but couldn’t come up with a strong reason to ignore Koscielny’s foul other than, “being manager of Arsenal Football Club, I prefer not to give it.”

He had a point about Wanyama and to be honest, he could have been booked twice several times over but it was Dembele who was Tottenham’s best player, the most destructive as far as Arsenal’s midfield were concerned. And with the way we were playing, ten men could have taken a point anyway.

Whilst there were few good performances, some were abject. Alex Iwobi had a forgettable game, easily closed down by the combination of Walker and the nearest midfielder / centre back. He rarely found space and when he did, the Nigerian international shot straight at Lloris.

But if he was bad, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in full-on Sunday Pub Team mode. I struggle to think of a more infuriating player during my years of watching Arsenal: bags of talent but dogged by inconsistency. It’s that wretched part of his game which surfaced yesterday. Super sub, he ain’t.

Nor were Giroud or Ramsey though to be honest. I wouldn’t fault any of the trio for effort but delivery was a different matter. Given that the team had been of a similar mind during the preceding hour or so, why should we expect the trio to make the difference? It’s a good question and rarely answered satisfactorily.

So we go into the break fourth. Feeling a lot flatter than if we’d won and were level on points with the leaders but given it’s November, any points will do. Arsène refused to accept the premiss that not playing in Europe helped Liverpool and Chelsea. I’d argue the capitulations of their opponents helped more although in both cases, the top two played well causing the collapses more than anything else.

It’s a moot point. As he said, better to be in than out although that argument may change if winning the Premier League is directly attributable to that, it begs the question of whether consistency of top four finishes is that virtuous. As I’ve said before, I’d prefer an average league finish of fourth if it were a mix of sevenths, sixths, fifths and firsts to fourth, third, fourth, seconds, etc.

But it is what it is. We’re fourth this weekend and will be for the next fortnight.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “Spurs Review: What A Load Of Old…

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    We didn’t do enough did we?

    What was in Chamberlain’s tea at half time?

  2. Wailesy says:

    Morning

    And our luck continues!
    I hate not beating Spurs but we can’t be too surprised by our lacklustre display. We’ve played like that all year, bar the Chelsea win.
    Thought Xhaka played really well. Would like to see Elneny along side him when Santi’s not fit.
    Perez when fit may help our issues on the left cause Ox certainly can’t.
    How many penalties this season have been scored down the middle?
    Wilshire called up to the England squad.

  3. Dukey says:

    A very 4th right post yogi. A pause 4 4ought.

  4. Wailesy says:

    Sorry my mistake, Ox came in on the right so he definitely can’t play on the left!??

  5. jess says:

    Should be able to beat a Tottenham without Alderweireld, Ali, Lamela and with a half fit Kane!

  6. Dukey says:

    Looks like the ox is indeed better on the left….its also time to ditch the two holding players now, its either one of xhaka, le coq or elneny with ozil and Ramsey.

  7. andy1886 says:

    The lack of energy was to be honest somewhat baffling. The Spuds played on Wednesday (okay, at ‘home’ ) so fatigue shouldn’t have been a major factor. I can accept that you can’t win every game but I’ve seen far worse Arsenal sides absolutely busting a gut to win an NLD. I’d go as far as to say that we’ve won many a derby game because we wanted it more, which didn’t seem to be the case yesterday.

    I know this is an very old chestnut but this is where you need a really first rate striker who can pull something out the bag when his team mates aren’t at their best. Because yesterday we really didn’t look like scoring.

  8. Jonny says:

    On a bright note Nacho was quite superb yesterday and errrr. Nope that it. That’s all I got.

  9. andy1886 says:

    Jonny,

    I thought that Bellerin had some good moments too, other than that I’m struggling.

    Not sure why YW felt the need to post a photo of Fellaini and his family outside their luxurious Manchester home though…..

  10. silvergunner says:

    Morning YW everyone is going on about formations I just don’t hunk we played with the intensity need to win the game regardless of formation and as you pointed out we struggled to deal with Dembele in the midfield. Ox has to work on his crossing/passing because at times he really does look he has two left feet but in fairness to him he has a lot more better days than last season so let’s hope yesterday was just a blip.
    For me Iwobi looked completely of the pace yesterday, never in sync for coordinated team press or too slow to track back.
    A draw isn’t the end of the world but after leading going into halftime I can’t help but feel they didn’t do enough to win the game a foul on Dembele before he entered the pen area but hindsight is a bummer like that.
    Man Utd next…..

  11. andy1886 says:

    C,

    And the less said about the NFL the better too…..

  12. C says:

    andy1886,

    Lets not even talk about that. It was overall a disappointing day for me yesterday

  13. Orson Kaert says:

    andy1886,

    NFL? What’s that? I thought NFL was the answer to the question “will arsenal win the Premiership this season?” The answer being Not F******g Likely

  14. -DFS says:

    Coupled with results elsewhere, there are ominous signs if the team cannot focus and find self-belief, we’ll be left trailing in the wake. That Walcott stated their tactics were a “complete surprise” indicates a dire level of preparation.

    Arsenal have the deepest squad in years , yet our form fluctuates. We should have beaten a weakened off-form Spurs yesterday, period.

    Yet, Spurs looked the better coached team (stats underlined this – the workload spread over the players). They are less talented, do not have the star players we do, yet they looked tireless, organized, purposeful and ambitious. If Kane gets back to full fitness the attack regains potency, they will be a direct threat.

    Guardiola will hit form again and produce a string of results at Man City.

    Then we have Liverpool and Chelsea.

    The sparkle Klopp and Conte are bringing to their respective teams is looking transformative. The players inspired – playing for each other, manager and fans – taking the field is a celebration of football, a party.

    The passion and enthusiasm off the pitch, but specifically on the sidelines gives them such an edge it becomes increasingly pertinent to question the style with which other managers go about their business. The impression Klopp and Conte give is they are deeply engaged with the players on every level.

    Watching the game yesterday, in spite of all the talent we remain inconsistent. What team will show up? The passive, furrowed brow, take it all in from the bench routine both Wenger and Bould exhibit looks wrong note(and has done for years) –especially with regards to this season’s stakes.

    Wenger is not going to change his in-game behavior, but if the game preparation, on-pitch focus and intensity do not improve, we’ll struggle for fourth.

  15. austinpaul says:

    YW I tink its beta we stay where are now till January wen d run down is expected to begin. My wori is why dis team cannot perform consistently!scintilating today, flat tomorrow; Aw shuld luk at dis wit utmost urgency; we cannt win d title wit such inconsistency;is it fatigue? Fitness? Or complacency?is it mental default ? Watever it is must be resolved b4 d interlull. As for yesterday game I never expected a win, my inner sense said a draw though I argued it shuld be odawise like a tru gunner bt inside of me I knew it wuld be a draw so no disappointment in dat regards except dat we didn’t reach or play at our normal threashold. Hopefully d players wuld be well rested excepting those on international call whom we pray shuld return in one piece,before d Old Traford adventure where I expect top performance frm d players! shallom!!

  16. Ras says:

    -DFS,

    DFS what you have cited I am in agreement.

    Theo’s admission that ” they were confused” says to me that the preparation of the Arsenal team is not ideal. ? Surely we practise playing against different attacking and defensive systems in training??

    I cannotrecall exactly whom it maybe have been YW. On our day we can be sublime but more often than can be infuriating to watch.

    I said it yesterday and will repeat it again a club with the stature of Arsenal should have another option in attack that does not include OG. Yes we know Perez is injured. He’s a wild punt . We have no idea true idea of his pedigree. We have no idea if its going to work with him or not.

    Laugh at me but if We are sadly limited in our attacking options. As Bill has repeatedly stated we do not have enough scorers in the team – squad. Its simple as that. We genuinely need a left sided – footed winger with pace and who is adept with a ball at his feet.

    It does not take a genius to see what Klopp and Conte are doing. The players are ready to move mountains for their respected Managers and teams. I dont get the same sense of feeling from the Arsenal players.

    Klopp starts Sturridge when he feels its righ for the team not because he is possibly the best striker at the club and is theefore an automatic starter. Conte has ditched Cesc. Why? as he feels Cesc is not the type of player he wants. We can argue re the merits of Cesc . Pep has ditched Yaya T all showing they are not afraid to make big decisions for the good of the team, the squad.

    Next game Man U. The Portuguese Man of War is going to be all fired up ready to ignite his war of words etc with the Boss.

  17. Bill says:

    Great review Yogi. Lots and lots of interesting talking points.

    Certainly a disappointing result. We can’t expect the defense to keep a clean sheet in every game but that was a day where they needed to carry us and we got the break we needed with the own goal and we could have won.

    The attack never looked very much of a threat. I am not sure it would have made a difference but prospectively I thought it was mistake to leave an in-form Giroud on the bench for tactical reasons. You will usually out think yourself if you build your strategy based on tactical theory such as attacking Spurs with pacey wingers. Use the players who will give us the best chance to score a goal and anyone who has watched the team for 4 years will recognize that in-form Giroud has a good chance to score irregardless of how slow footed he is. I am not a big fan of Giroud but winning trumps my personnel issues with specific players or a certain style of play and hopefully it will for Arsene.

  18. Bill says:

    Every season when we have a good run of form and score a bunch of goals we get excited by the idea that we have finally found the tactical tweak that will be able to carry us for the full season. The same thing has happened every season for the last 12. We have had 3 less then scintillating performances in a row from this group of starting players in league games and the league seems to be catching up with us. Some might say that the loss of Cazorla is the difference maker and while I think Santi is a top quality player, he has been here for 4+ seasons and we have had plenty of poor form with him in the line up. Besides we still have the worlds best #10 and he should be able to adjust and pick up most of the slack and we should be able to compensate for the loss of one midfielder. Its a recipe for inconsistency if our form drops off if one player loses form or pulls a muscle.

  19. Bill says:

    Another talking point is I think its time reevaluate the idea that Iwobe is our regular starting left winger. It worked fine when Theo and Alexis were scoring all of those goals earlier in the season but over he long term I think its a mistake to be playing someone who is not a threat to score at one of our forward positions. Now that the adrenaline rush fueled rush of the first few games is leveling off his inexperience and youthful inconsistency is starting to become evident. I have never liked the idea of counting on a U21 player to be a regular starter because this same pattern has been predictable for most players and repeated itself over and over again during the Emirates era. I like the lad and I am a huge fan of Alex as a long term prospect for our central midfield but we need more then he can give us on the left wing, IMO.

  20. Bill says:

    Ox is one of my favorite players but I have to agree that he is remarkably frustrating. Its been 6 consecutive years on the cusp of greatness. I am not ready to give up on him but while I think his potential upside and his ceiling are tremendous, his floor is much lower then it should be after all of this time and his performances are still consistently inconsistent. He can’t use inexperience and youthful inconsistency as excuses any more.

  21. C says:

    Bill,

    I think its interesting that your blaming Iwobi’s inexperience and youthful inconsistency for the reason why he shouldn’t start on the left but lets take a look at the other options:

    Giroud at CF thus moving Sanchez to the LW: Giroud is even more inconsistent than Iwobi and lets be honest, if Giroud isn’t scoring goals, he isn’t effective whereas if Iwobi isn’t scoring goals, he is still contributing with his work rate in our pressing game as well as allows Sanchez to play at CF.

    Theo on LW with Ox or Ramsey on the RW: again, both of those players have loads of experience, yet both are terribly inconsistent (Ox even more so than Ramsey) but also, neither is at present walking into this side or being a game changing player enough so that Iwobi gets moved to the bench as well as the fact that Ox and Ramsey on the LW simply doesn’t work and Theo is much much more effective on the RW.

    Perez: I think he is probably the best option there once he is fit as he was not only showing he was adapting to the team and the English game, but was showing desire to go along with his expereince that he has had in the CL and across Europe.

    So as much as you want to talk about inexperience and youth inconsistency, the other option are just as inconsistent except they have loads of experience as a starter for Arsenal and haven’t gotten the job done previously, thus one of the reasons why Iwobi is starting.

  22. HenryB says:

    Bill,

    I totally agree with you regarding the Ox. At his best, he has the skill, the pace and the guts to be a top class player, but his subs performance on Sunday was not too good. Well, that is to say it was poor.

    I really want him to do well, but I expect that Mr Wenger must be running out of patience with him.
    Candidly, he reminds me of myself playing golf when it is not going well. A wild swish of the club trying to play a forceful match winning shot, and it comes off the face of the club by a tiny amount and goes out of bounds. The next shot I try even harder and it is worse — looking at Oxo’s face tells me he is doing the same thing – just on a football pitch with 60,000 critical fans watching.

    I hope his dad has a word and calms him down.

  23. HenryB says:

    So, C and Bill, what is your take on the election, now that we are near polling day — at last?

  24. Bill says:

    One other talking point. Those 5 points we dropped in the first 2 games when Arsene did not have the squad mentally or physically ready for the start of the season and gave a couple of our critical players their extra long summer vacation seem pretty big right now. This season could be the toughest fight for the top 4 in this decade and those points might become really critical. I understand the theory behind not rushing your players back but those points are critical and which of us really believes that the extra time off is helping now or will help us to be fresher as the season goes on? You can’t put rest in the bank.

  25. HenryB says:

    Hi, C,

    Could not have put it better. 🙁

  26. Orson Kaert says:

    Excuse me, an Englishman, butting in but I have to ask a question. How is it that the most powerful and arguably the most sophisticated country in the world cannot find someone better than the two candidates standing for election to the post of President. Two candidates that represent, in my humble opinion, all that is wrong in your country, corruption in business and politics, the worship of moneymaking and, in Trumps case, bigotry and almost total ignorance of the world outside of the USA.

    Please don’t be offended, but my ability to understand how your country has come to this sad state is totally inadequate.

  27. Jonny says:

    The rise of the great neoliberal myth which started in earnest under Reagan and Thatcher, and was spread by moneyed interests to buy law changes, has been the core-driver behind the unholy mess in the US and here.
    Let’s be honest the UK is not in a much better place to point fingers.
    Hillary is not really much better or worse than Obama – she would not have been my choice but there are few who have ever held office who are more qualified.

  28. Bill says:

    The odds heavily favor Hillary to win. I am certainly not a fan of Hillary and I wish the republicans had picked a decent candidate because she was easily beatable. I don’t think she is crazy enough to do anything stupid and it’s going to be very hard for her to get anything really good or really bad done because the congress will probably oppose her every move. I am not really concerned about impending disaster because for better or worse I suspect the status quo will be maintained.

  29. C says:

    HenryB,

    yup, Hillary will win and while she is the lesser of two evils, because if Trump wins, I may move to London!

  30. Bill says:

    Perhaps the single most recent influential thing that Hillary will do is to tilt the Supreme Court to the left. For better or worse.

  31. C says:

    Jonny,

    Tend to agree about the government. We all know that she is well qualified given her involvement in the government since, well forever. The thing is, its not just about Hillary, but how much the Republicans absolutely despise her and the Clinton name and while they tried to do everything in their power to derail Obama, they will do even worst to HIllary. The other thing is, none of them really want to vote for her and we all know that when people have to do something because its the lesser of two evils, they will do everything they can to stop that person from succeeding. As soon as Trump won the Republican no matter what happened it was going to turn out bad.

  32. C says:

    Reports saying Bellerin has signed and Ozil is close. If so, both of those are brilliant signings and Sanchez and Santi.

  33. nicky says:

    @Henry B,
    Your 4.38 only emphasises my long-held view that “golf is a humbling game”. 😉

  34. nicky says:

    @ C,
    Sorry to say that a move to London would not ensure safety, should the ghastly Trump be handed the nuclear trigger. 😉

  35. Jonnygunner says:

    Orson…..America….sophisticated?…..really?

  36. C says:

    nicky,

    I know but at least I wouldn’t be in the US, plus I work for the government in DC, so London would be much better than that given there maybe only a handful of people in the world that like Trump. 😉

    Most don’t like Hillary but at least she has worked with them and she isn’t nearly as crazed as Trump is!

  37. C says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Mate, us Americans can’t even believe so surely the rest of the world can’t.

    To be completely honest, Trump’s big rallying cry is unfiltered pro-American ranting that is exetremely unpolitical which a large section of America wanted(not me because of everything you stated) until it was too late. The fact is, he won his place by simply telling the world that America is the greatest and fuck everybody else and now that his extremely long list of bigotry is out, his own party is overly concerned with how things could go. They dug a hole and now they are all scrambling to get out but its too late. Hillary, for all the controversay that is surrounding her won’t do too much harm because she has been a politician for soo long. The fear with Hillary is that Republicans hate her to they will do everything, even worst than during Obama years, to undermine and not allow for any sort of change.

  38. -DFS says:

    Ras-

    Well, Theo was open about it and Wenger claimed it had not thrown them too much- I believe Theo.

    For the intiial 20 minutes we were confused and Theo’s admission explained why. I concurred with your exact point – what is happening in training and regarding tactics? Surely we are discussing various formations and how to adjust?

    But – then we have the double whammy.

    If we are taken by surprise, as a manager, you imeediately go to the sideline, adjust play and refocus players and resources as needed. Wenger and Bould sit there impassive letting the players figure it out themselves.

    Whereas, Klopp, Conte, Simeone and Guardiola patrol their touchline from start to finish, issuing instructions, urging and supporting the players on the pitch.

    Over the years this has been dismissed as style over substance but this surely is a public expression of the more private ‘off-field’ enthusastic tone these men take day in and out with their players.

    The idea we have a soft underbelly has persisted for years. Bill has repeatedly reminded we dropped points at the start of the season for no other reason than a casual approach to the campaign.

    I am not advocating every team needs a hyper-enthisuastic manager …. but the edge it gives a team is palpable. And, if any manager is going to sit unemotionally on the bench throughout, it can only be preparation has been impeccable.

    The lackadaisical start to the season, yo-yoing form, players admitting they are thrown by tactics does not suggest impeccable preparation.

  39. Orson Kaert says:

    C,

    Before you make any rash decision about relocating to the UK, let me put one name before you, Jeremy Corbin!

    The world may be at risk with Trump’s finger on the nuclear button, but even before he has been elected Corbin has categorically stated that he would not press the button under any circumstances, so should we be barmy enough to elect him, our nuclear deterrent would be immediately neutralized.

  40. C says:

    Orson Kaert,

    There really are no good prospects then, maybe Switzerland or Iceland.

    Don’t forget, Trump himself said that he doesn’t trust American generals for military advice but instead the news stations (I’m paraphrasing but you get it).

    This is so sad, it really is.

  41. Aaron says:

    Yeah, and the US is not bleeding any money on the Middle East since President Obama arrived. The US has spent trillions in that area due to geopolitical concerns for over 30 years, and it’s lust for cheap petroleum.
    hillary is a complete scumbag! A liar and a war monger, that the left claims itself not to be. This coming from a guy who has voted on the dem side for most of his life. But, when I look around now, and see how the liberal attorneys have taken control of our country, I want to vomit every day of my life!
    People think they will be safe with hillary are delusional.
    That being said trump had a lobotomy at birth.

  42. Orson Kaert says:

    C,

    I’d pick Switzerland, the skiing is better there than in Iceland.

  43. Jonnygunner says:

    Orson Kaert,

    In Iceland….that is….so does the skiing still edge it?….or would a serving of garlic bread and a slice of Vienatta be too tempting?

  44. C says:

    Aaron,

    Don’t think anybody feels comfortable with either canidate, but when your own party of vile humans is turning and running away from you….its telling.

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