Spurs Review: Two Points Dropped

It was a North London Derby which highlighted the good and the bad of modern Arsenal. A game of two halves, where the energy and purpose of the second half replaced dithering and mistakes of the opening forty-five minutes.

And at the end of it all, there’s a sense that this is the one which got away.

Tottenham, at the moment, are bang average. Out of sorts but durable; getting away with points rather than deserving them.

In many respects, their performance yesterday was similar to late-era Arsene’s Arsenal. Lucky breaks and then retreating, failing to defend a lead which barely looked under threat. And at the end of it, being grateful for the point rather than celebrating all three.

They can point to Kane’s belly flop in the penalty area at the end but that just shows how much their performance stalled. He tried to contrive a spot-kick when his open play opportunities were stifled. In parks football, that’s called cheating.

But while I may rail against that, it serves only to avoid the uneasy questions which surfaced about Arsenal yesterday. Before them, however, are some positives.

Matteo Guendouzi is the largest of those. Unai played down his contribution somewhat; “he’s very young but he’s progressing,” the Spaniard said before turning to the assembled hacks and said, “Just joshing.”

The midfielder “gives us a lot of control and also the combinations for us” making him “very important in the team.” Too right, Unai; he saved your bacon.

Describing the youngster as a “key player” served to emphasise the point. Guendouzi was a terrier in midfield, even in the first half when Unai once again ceded the flanks. He and Torreira shuffled left and right while Granit Xhaka did bugger all in the centre.

Granit Xhaka’s Charmed Life

How the Swiss stayed on the pitch is beyond me; Martin Atkinson showed a largesse only matched in not booking Xhaka until the 92nd-minute which is only exceeded by Emery not hooking him at half-time.

Make the most of Lucas Torreira; there’s a transfer request in the offing. If he gets hooked when asked to play out of position and Xhaka is dreadful, the Uruguayan won’t be around for long.

The tactics in the first half ask a lot of questions of the coach. A gap between the midfield and attack quickly emerged because too much was asked of the trio he picked. There was no link man and no guile; hassle, harry and pace. In some respects, Arsenal’s performance was typical derby fare from the pre-Premier League era. A lot of huff and puff but in the first-half, no flair.

Which is not surprising when a calamity of errors puts you 2 – 0 down. We started brightly enough but on ten minutes, that all went to pot. Xhaka challenged Kane for a header but Sokratis didn’t wait to see who won the ball; he barrelled in and left a gaping hole in the centre of the defence.

From there on, it was almost a formality. Son to Lamela and the flimsiest hand from Leno left Eriksen with a tap-in. The German didn’t cover himself in glory; it was a basic error and in a derby, unforgivable.

Matters turned to sh*t just before half-time. Xhaka – who else – petulantly slid into Son in the penalty area and Kane calmly scored from the resultant penalty.

I genuinely do not understand how Xhaka wasn’t replaced at half-time. He barely improved in the second forty-five minutes; in one match, he gave away 18% of our season’s total of fouls. In one match.

The Only Way Is Up

Lacazette’s goal, a heady mix of hard work, good fortune and fine technique, gave us the boost just before half-time. Right on the whistle and the impetus changed. Once everyone settled down from Kane hitting the post seconds later, that is.

Emery brought on Ceballos midway through the second half as our control pushed Tottenham further and further back. At one point, the ball spent so much time in their half, it was as if there was a border control post on the halfway line and nobody had the right visa to enter Arsenal territory.

At one point, the possession stat read 69% in Tottenham’s defensive third of the pitch, 30% in midfield and 1% in the Arsenal defensive third. The screws were being tightened as we headed toward the inevitable equaliser.

And it duly arrived with Aubameyang’s studs guiding the ball past Lloris with twenty minutes to go, flicking Guendouzi’s pass into the net. The atmosphere intensified, Spurs players wilted and three points were there for the taking. Buckle up, Mavis; this is going to be one helluva ride.

Which it proved to be. The winner came soon after; Kolasinac buccaneered down the left all afternoon with mixed but largely good, end-product. This time, he got the cross spot on and Sokratis almost went from zero to hero. Unfortunately, the ball entered the net long after the lino’s flag went up; Kola moved a split-second too soon.

That knocked the stuffing out of us. A switch flicked in our heads which said, “let’s keep the point” and we rarely troubled Lloris after.

In the end, we took a point from a game we looked like losing. We took a point from a game against the LWC who were there for the taking.

Come Into The Sunlight, Awkward Questions…

Inevitably, the coach’s tactics come under the spotlight. We let Liverpool roam the flanks last weekend and again Tottenham in the first half. Emery wanted compact in the middle to protect the back four. It didn’t work.

In fact, it horrendously backfired. Once again, the coach’s determination to be tactically flexible had to get us out of a mess that his determination to be tactically flexible put us into.

The trio of Guendouzi, Torreira, and Xhaka was terrible on paper. Too narrow unless part of a five-man midfield which was unnecessary at home. There was no cover on the flanks and it required Guendouzi to be the link man to the attack on his own in the first half.

As well as protecting the back four; the obvious candidate to be caught between two stools yet he showed good sense for the most part in balancing his defensive work with the attack.

The same can’t be said of Xhaka but I’m not revisiting that 500 words after I already highlighted his deficiencies.

That trio, the way in which Emery set out the team, raise awkward questions about the coach. And the squad; it isn’t all on the Spaniard, let’s be fair.

However, his lack of identity in the side masked as flexibility will stop us taking the next leap forward. I don’t doubt that he can get us into the top four; United and Chelsea are hell-bent on giving us a helping hand in that respect.

Yet, with Emery’s apparent season philosophy seeing the midfield corseted between the defence and attack, we’re going to let important points slip.

He can’t legislate for the players’ stupidity. Last week, it was Luiz; this Sokratis and Xhaka both chimed in with equally expensive mistakes.

Be Guiling

However, he isn’t utilising our best assets in the same team. We need more guile in home matches, against defences which say “attack us, we’ve already seen the holes you are leaving.”

There’s no sense of a midfield barrier in his current XI. We’re just playing defence and attack; it was the same at Anfield but Liverpool did us a favour by taking their foot off the gas.

I just worked out why Xhaka is in the team. 92 minutes to get a yellow card with is a reckless performance? He’s harvested a field of four-leaf Shamrocks. Unai is hoping some of that rubs off on him.

‘til Tomorrow.

52 thoughts on “Spurs Review: Two Points Dropped

  1. jonnygunner says:

    Damon:
    BOOOM!

    My bloody wifi is so slow…I sent it twice.
    I demand VAR

  2. Arsetralian says:

    I only watched 25 mins highlights
    Awful commentator was ready with his prepared Jonathan Pearce goal exclamation
    “A featherlite touch…that means so much!”
    Cunt

    Still 2-2 and Auba relief in the end
    We can play better

  3. jonnygunner says:

    jonnygunner: Ras is correct-season long lian

    Or quite possibly a loan…..which is very different from a lian..

  4. Ferkov says:

    jonnygunner,

    Losing your touch
    My bloody phone refuses to remember me , so I have to sign back in for every check comment, and proof read coz of my fat fumbs

  5. freddo says:

    Lack of identity? At least Unai took this mob to Liverpool and tried very hard to play out from the back. That showed plenty of identity (or, at least, an attempt to mold identity). Compare that with Spurs. They tried playing out from the back for about 5 minutes and gave up (such was the chaos it produced). Then they basically played Stoke-ball (which, on Match of the Day Jenas gushingly and approvingly described as “direct football”). Pochettino should be very worried indeed.
    As for the Leno hand, I’m not so sure that was a clanger. If you have to extend your hand as far as you can to stop a ball, you basically have no control over the ball. You can’t push it in the direction you want. You’ve just got to put a stiff hand behind it and see what happens. Leno should have had cover.
    I’m hoping that Unai is now just a little bit of tinkering away from an excellent side. It’s certainly all to play for now.

  6. YW says:

    It’s footballing porn if HM is sold. Pawn if it’s a loan deal.

  7. Ferkov says:

    Where’s Andy1886? Get him to give Mustafi a cleavage like Taylor’s, and send it to Roma’s back office.

  8. jonnygunner says:

    Ferkov:
    Where’s Andy1886? Get him to give Mustafi a cleavage like Taylor’s, and send it to Roma’s back office.

    Mustafi could be on his way to Juventus

  9. jonnygunner says:

    Mhiki has left the building…….

  10. Pete the Thirst says:

    I’ll pick him up and drive him the whole way!

    jonnygunner: Mustafi could be on his way to Juventus

  11. Pete the Thirst says:

    How many times have we pointed out Xhaka’s frailties on here? He needs to be dropped. Stick Cabellos in his hole(!) to do the creative work.

    Did anybody else notice Kolasinac was playing the 2nd half as a winger? He didn’t make much effort to defend at all. Tierney’s debut can’t come soon enough.

  12. jonnygunner says:

    Ferkov,

    It’s not Taylor Swift you burk……it’s Scarlett Johansonn

  13. Damon says:

    If we can get this defence sorted out to stop chucking goals away so cheaply, we look alright this year.

    Maybe better than alright….

    With Holding, Tierney and Bellerin all to return, I do have some hope that it can be done

  14. jonnygunner says:

    Damon:
    If we can get this defence sorted out to stop chucking goals away so cheaply, we look alright this year.

    Maybe better than alright….

    With Holding, Tierney and Bellerin all to return, I do have some hope that it can be done

    Agreed-with Chambers next to Holding before both Luiz and Socrates

  15. Ferkov says:

    jonnygunner,

    jonnygunner:
    Ferkov,

    It’s not Taylor Swift you burk……it’s Scarlett Johansonn

    No need for name calling! Looks just like Taylor Swift with tits though . Prick! 😇

  16. Ferkov says:

    Yogi, whilst your moderating my morally reprehensible last post 😓, can I just point out that, by following the email notification straight to the post, we are missing out on the daily feature image. Maybe it’s just an iPad thing.

  17. YW says:

    Referenced three comments so got held automatically. Probably thought it was a porn thing. Or a pawn thing.

  18. Bufallo says:

    What the hell was Miki doing on the pitch if his departure was imminent ?! Or was yesterday the final straw. Delighted to see him go.
    Please please Mustafi depart.

  19. Bill says:

    Great review Yogi

    Fighting back from 2-0 down is positive. At least we didn’t lose. A lot of Xhaka hate on the blog these days and I agree with everyone. The problem is we don’t really have a defensive midfielder in the squad. Xhaka certainly isn’t very good but none of Torriera, Guendouzi or Willock are defensive mids either. I understand why everyone is excited about Guendouzi and I love his energy which is certainly valuable but he isn’t really a defensive mid and at least so far he does not give us the end product we hope for from a box to box midfielder. Matteo played heavy minutes last season and had 0 goals and 0 assists in our league games. He is certainly not Aaron Ramsey and perhaps he can be our version of Jordan Henderson or Scotty Parker and hopefully he bring a bit of end product as he matures. Torriera is another player whose energy is fun to watch but at least so far in his Arsenal career he is more eye catching then effective. He was not very good for the last 2/3 of last season and then he lost his starting spot with Uruguay last summer. Emery does not seem to rate him as highly as we do. If we can buy a better defensive mid and a creative midfielder and a really good CB in the next couple of windows and keep our front line together we could certainly take the next step as a team.

  20. Bill says:

    None of Spurs, ManU or Chelsea look any better then we do at least so far. I think we have a reasonably good chance to climb back into the top 4.

  21. Stu says:

    Bill,

    I would like to see Chambers get a run at being the defensive midfielder in place of Xhaka. I’m not convinced Chambers is good enough to be a CB (he can cover the role), but he may well be the missing link sitting in front of a back two/three from Holding, Socratis and Luiz. Would then give Guendouzi room to play the ball and Torreira to snap at heels.

  22. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    YW:
    It’s footballing porn if HM is sold. Pawn if it’s a loan deal.

    Well it would have been a travesty if you had missed that one YW!

  23. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    I don’t understand what Xhaka’s role in the starting 11 is!? Can someone ask UE? Chamber’s can do the job of sitting instead of Xhaka. Why this isn’t apparent to UE, I can’t say. But I can say that I don’t rate UE and his tactics for the last 2 games have been lacking. Especially seeing as he sees this bunch of player’s week in, week out and knows that he does not have the personnel to play that brand of football. So why attempt it!? I would like to see a back for of Bellerin, Holding, Luiz and Tierney. A midfield of Guendouzi, Willock, AMN and a front 3 of Auba, Laca and Pepe. Tell me if I’m wrong.

    One more thing of note, in the defensive midfield role. Did you see Delph for Everton against Wolves? The only reason for not giving him a contract is his injury record. Opportunity missed I would say.

  24. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    One last thing, you’re all going on about making top four because Chelski and Manure don’t look like they are up to much. But you’re completely missing the bigger picture. Leicester are a real threat as are Everton. We’re not guaranteed anything! Especially if the manager doesn’t get his sh!t together sharpish and drop f@#king Xhaka.

  25. Ferkov says:

    Pete the Thirst:
    How many times have we pointed out Xhaka’s frailties on here? He needs to be dropped. Stick Cabellos in his hole(!) to do the creative work.

    Did anybody else notice Kolasinac was playing the 2nd half as a winger? He didn’t make much effort to defend at all. Tierney’s debut can’t come soon enough.

    Not really Pete. Thought that’s his position ,non?

  26. Ferkov says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Incorrect .
    Not all of us surely.
    Leicester look decent. Everton are always a threat until they implode, Wolves will struggle with the Thursday/Sunday chalice.
    We need to be flat track bullies and show a lot more grit and Nowse ?sp. away from home than last year.
    I think we’ve got a better team ,and squad, and as I haven’t a clue how he thinks, I’m reserving judgement on Mr Emery. He has the benefit of my doubt for time being.
    He does need to kick Xhaka off the park tho. That is the thorn threatening my balloon of optimism.

  27. Dukey says:

    Yogstar.

    Spurs with Erik’s son is a different proposition, Just typical that porch started him. This season they have been poor due to him being dropped. So seeing him start and every man and their dog writing them off they were bound to be up for the game. A point v this current Spurs side is not a bad result. Its a point gained.

  28. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Stu,

    I think you’re right. I don’t see Chambers as a centre back (or full back for that matter) but DM certainly suited his game at Fulham. Let’s face it, he can’t be less mobile than Xhaka or concede as many freekicks or pens.

  29. Stu says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    Exactly Bill. Xhaka looks like a walking card at the moment. Apart from the occasional Xhaka screamer (which generally misses), I’m not seeing anything that Chambers couldn’t do. He was very highly rated at Fulham, so at least worth a go to see if he has developed into a player who can perform at top 6 level. He cannot do much worse and if he fails we still have Xhaka and both can go up for sale for a worthy replacement.

  30. Stu says:

    Stu:
    Paulie Walnuts,

    Exactly Bill. Xhaka looks like a walking card at the moment. Apart from the occasional Xhaka screamer (which generally misses), I’m not seeing anything that Chambers couldn’t do. He was very highly rated at Fulham, so at least worth a go to see if he has developed into a player who can perform at top 6 level. He cannot do much worse and if he fails we still have Xhaka and both can go up for sale for a worthy replacement.

    Sorry Paulie, I meant to say Paulie not Bill. That’ll teach me to juggle too many things at once!

  31. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Stu,

    Haha , no problem. We all love Bill & it’s better than Pauline (apologies to all Paulines)

  32. Blue Yonder says:

    Right on the money, YW. Spurs were definitely there for the taking ytdy. Thanks to the (lack of) defending, making up a two-goal hole took over from the intended task. Emery’s obstinacy in first starting Xhaka and then not yanking him is hurting the side and negatively affecting results.

  33. Blue Yonder says:

    Guendouzi has been called up to the France squad for the first time in place, it is said, of Paul Pogba. Is Pogba injured?

  34. Ferkov says:

    Blue Yonder,

    Apparently so. But Manure always do this.
    On our injury front tho, just read that Tierny played twice last week for the academy. 170 minutes. No problems.
    And Smith Rowe has played enough to join first team too. Injury scare last week ..red herring. Not a fishy injury.

  35. G4E says:

    On another note…..Torreira looked like he found his way to Soho right before this game?

  36. captain senderos says:

    mustafi has become so bad that we could not find even a single club to loan him to… not even a mls club or Chinese club… instead of letting him stay at the club enjoying his free wages… if I am the sport director, I will loan him to Bolton wanderers in league 2 just to humiliate him… what a bufoon

  37. nicky says:

    After Atkinson’s treatment (or rather non-treatment) of Xhaka, I think the usual complaints about the PGMO being anti-Arsenal, should be silenced……at least for a little while. 😎

  38. Ferkov says:

    nicky,

    Absolutely absurd wasn’t it?
    But he also let Alli and Kane off yellows for… well being themselves. Just saying 😊
    So he’s just plain incompetent, but not biased.
    Here’s one for you then. Given that choice, which would you choose??😂

  39. nicky says:

    Ferkov,

    If I had a choice, I would give up watching footer and play golf.😎

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