Arsenal 2 – 0 (First Half) 0 – 3 Sp*rs (Second Half)

A tale of two halves…

I have spent the last 6 hours in recovery mode in a mixed state of shock and confusion. I’m not sure exactly what I witnessed, or how such an event occurred. Just to re-confirm – we went 2-0 up at half time to a team that could barely make a pass and then in the second half we became the team that couldn’t make a pass and self-capitulated.

Let’s take a run through the line up and how the events unfolded:

Fabianski

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Denilson – Song

Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin

Chamakh

With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Djourou, Wlshere, Walcott, Rosicky, Van Persie

A win would take us to the top of the table, but a loss could see us go 5 points behind Chelsea if they won… as it turns out they failed to beat Birmingham which means, despite the loss, we are still just two points off the top of the table.

We went ahead in the first half through an excellent piece of play through Samir Nasri who wondered into the middle and collected a pass from deep and managed to get past Gomes and tap in from a very acute angle – it wasn’t a game in which we had a lot of chances, but we looked like we started to get going around the time we scored the goal. 1-0 became 2-0 when we broke well to combine with Arshavin out wide left and then to Chamakh who flicked the ball in to make it 2-0.

At that point, I thought that this was incredible – obviously very pleased with the result – but the best thing of the scoreline was that we had the team on the ropes – we needed to provide a knock out blow and get the third. I knew that after half time they would be a different proposition, but I don’t know if our team knew that…. because as you know it was a second half of crazyness. A half which saw us really not come out at all – we were so different – so slow, so confused and so slow to react.

In a way, we played in gear 2 during the first half and Sp*rs played in gear one, they accelerated to gear 3 and we simply didn’t have the energy to match it – despite Arsene’s claims of tiredness after a weekday international foray – one thing he has to realise is that that excuse is no longer valid when we play a top 6 / top 7 team as they also have a plethora of players on international duty too. The difference between the two halves was purely down to the will and want to win and the mental strength to do so.

That is absolutely our problem – mental strength – we have none. Well, we have none when it matters. To be 2-0 up at home against your rivals is a position that we need to see through. The second half unravelled as Gareth Bale used his pace to burst through and slotted away. A dubious decision from the referee saw us concede a penalty through a Cesc Fabregas handball – dubious to say the least , and Van Der Vaart converted from the spot. Kaboul put them into the lead with a header from a free kick and the whole reason for all of this was simply down to erratic behaviour in our defence – perhaps disorganisation due to the attempt to move forward and win…

The surprise inclusion of Koscielny ahead of Djourou proved to be a big factor in the loss as the Frenchman was responsible for some bad defending for Sp*rs first goal, actually pushed Cesc’s hand into the ball for the penalty and also gave away the free kick for the third – in fact, his performances this season have all resulted in us losing points – I think Arsene needs to realise this – he cannot be first choice.

Arsene spoke about the game after the game:

“We could not maintain the focus nor the urgency for 90 minutes because some players dropped. I believe as well that overall we delivered a performance expected in a game like that quality wise and if you look at the stats and the numbers it’s very difficult to understand how we lost this game. A drop of concentration, some basic errors, some bad luck as well because the penalty spot I think was no foul for them at the start. And on top of that, not only did we get the foul but we get the penalty where we are guilty of. But overall you are a bit speechless.  To re-analyze the game, it’s a mystery how we can lose a game like that.”

When asked whether he thought Arsenal were still in the hunt for the title…

“Yes of course. I’m convinced that we are it but there are opportunities in the championship that you want to take and today we put ourselves in the right position and we failed. We have to accept that. And that is mental more than football. If Tottenham had dominated the game and created 10 chances and they won the game, you would say, ‘okay, we have lost against the better team today.’ Today we were always in the position where we could win the game and we didn’t win it. And that is something that is difficult to swallow. They are tough. I believe there is a matter that exists in football as well – that is bad luck. How can you imagine that suddenly you get a free kick and then a penalty behind that when the free kick is missed? It is difficult. You cannot predict all but for me there is a mixture of fatigue in the second half and lack of cautiousness as well.”

At the moment, I feel more confident when we play away from home… with quite a few good victories on the road, and three losses in four at home… we have Braga on Tuesday and then Villa away, we have a chance to win some pride back…. and God do we need to…

For today, that’s it… over to Kieran tomorrow…

  • Goonerman

    Iv been waiting for your post dev I needed someone elses view on the game!! And I like the fact you agree about kosclieny walking straight back into the team after his last game he was sent off and we lost replacing djourou who has been very impressive in the last two away games, that annoyed me because JD got his chance and fully took it and was benches as soon as kozza was available, he is a very good back up cb but I personally put JD ahead of him!!

  • devday

    @ Goonerman:
    Definitely agree with that – JD was very good in the last two games – and the recent defeats have actually come when Koscielny’s been in the team – I’ve been looking at his stats and they aren’t great.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    It was a tale of 3 come backs. Defoe cam back for spurs and changed the game to help spurs come back to win 2-3 and the other come back was on our side with kos coming back after his suspension but I think we all agree that was the wrong decision by our manager. I have seen many a blog calling for Wengers head to roll because of the lack of ambition and tactical awareness. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Fo

    @ Gooner Get Ya:
    I have to agree, it’s worrying times at the Emirates at the moment – I don’t think time is up for Wenger – but there is a massive problem with kids who have nothing to prove. Failure is the price.

    Tactically, positionally and mentally we were completely gone in the second half. I’m not sure what the answer is.

    Maybe we need better players – like likes of Arshavin, Song, Denilson, even Chamakh, Van Persie and Clichy and our goalkeeping department are not of the standard that we should have at Arsenal.

  • Berth

    @ Fo -”Maybe we need better players – like likes of Arshavin, Song, Denilson, even Chamakh, Van Persie and Clichy and our goalkeeping department are not of the standard that we should have at Arsenal”

    Just a loss against spurs and suddenly the players you mentioned are not the right one for the club? guys be careful what you all wish for. Our problem is more of a mental issue and poor choice of player selection.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Just think we paid the same amount for kos as spurs did for van de vaart??

  • Goonerman

    What does that have to do with anything goner get ya?? They are different players in different positions! I would not have van der vaart over nasri, fabregas or wilshere! He did not change the game cesc and nasri were far better than him
    Overall, i will say it again we handed them the game with stupid mistakes they did not in anyway out play us in the game!

  • funty

    the situation now is that the relationship between Arsenal’s manager and a growing number of the club’s fans is like a marriage gone stale. There are still good times, but not many. The magic has gone. And there is an acknowledgement that it will never return. Eyes are cast elsewhere and thoughts of what a fresh love would be like become more frequent. Perhaps this echoes Le Boss’s personal life. For those that know the Joy Division song Love Will Tear Us Apart, the lyrics capture such a situation between two long term partners. One of the lines is, ‘Yet there’s still this appeal that we’ve kept through our lives’. The comfort of familiarity, the uncertainty of the unknown, stops us making the break, stops those such as myself calling for the manager’s head. But the arguments are more frequent now. The mistakes repeated. It is a slow downward spiral of tortuous decline. But in truth, if you gave me a straight choice between having Gus Hiddink and Arsene Wenger as the manager in charge of Arsenal next weekend, I would take the former. Nothing lasts forever. Djourou, given a run of games, has improved significantly and was winning everything in the air against Everton last Sunday. Given Tottenham’s propensity to play high balls into the area, dropping him for the physically weaker Koscielny seemed a very strange decision. What followed pretty much summarized Arsenal in a nutshell. Both sides of the coin in 90 minutes. An impressive first half had everyone relaxed at the interval. And then the collapse, the Dr Jekyll Gunners came out for the second half. Spurs put Jermaine Defoe on to change their formation and Arsenal failed to adapt. Wenger claims he takes account of the opposition in setting his side up, but there seems little evidence of this, especially when things change during the course of a match. That is why, in terms of winning football games, Jose Mourinho is a far better manager than Arsene Wenger. And that is not down to an unlimited chequebook. He achieved success at Porto without it and won Inter their first European Cup for 45 years where many had failed at that club with similar resources.The manager believes this is his strongest ever squad in his time at the club. The conclusion has to be that he has become delusional. Either that or he is speaking blatant untruths with the aim of continuing to sell what some would label his vanity project to the masses. Either way, it is totally unacceptable. Arsenal have played seven home Premier League matches so far this season. They have performed convincingly in two of those, and not once in the last five domestic home fixtures. Away form has kept them, theoretically, in contention for the title. On paper, two points behind the leaders looks good, but if Dr Wenger’s experiment was ever going to come good, he will never get a better chance than this season, when the top two are falling over themselves leaking points. And yet still, everyone can see that this group of players lacks the consistency to put a string of results together and go unbeaten for any stretch of time. It is an insult to those that won trophies under this manager to call the current squad better.As things have gone stale between many fans and Wenger, so it is behind the scenes at London Colney. Pat Rice and Boro Primorac are not going to be imparting anything fresh after over a decade in the job. No-one is challenging them to produce anything but qualification for Champions League football. It is same old same old and the end of each season sees exactly the same. Close, but no cigar. The players are encouraged to play tidy and attractive football, but no-one is being taught how to win matches. It is widely acknowledged that Martin Keown is the reason Arsenal made the Champions League final in 2006. But here was a voice strong enough to challenge the manager and actually coach the defenders to – sometimes – do things that don’t look so pretty, like utilising row Z when the need arises. No points for artistic merit, but progress into a final where poor officiating denied Arsenal a trophy.Wenger often talks about the mental strength of his players. Google ‘Wenger mental strength’ and check out the range of dates that he has used this phrase. It’s a load of bollocks. What struck me this morning was how often his sides have chucked away winning positions. And this includes the players that won trophies. Think about it. The FA Cup semi-final replay in 1999. The FA Cup final in 2001. Several key matches in the 2002-03 league campaign, a trophy Arsenal should have won by a street. That season ended in an FA Cup final with the players taking the ball to the corner flag against Southampton, cognisant of the fact that too often, leads had been sacrificed. The Champions League was there for the taking in the Unbeatables season, but, 2-1 up in the tie, with 45 minutes to see out against Chelsea, it all fell apart. Even in winning the title at the Lane that season, the Spurs fans had something to cheer about with a late equaliser saving some face. And that is just the trophy-winning players. What did win the pots then was that the squads were actually better and contained enough experienced players to win enough of the big games that mattered to ensure some return for their efforts. There were winners there who had learned how to win things before Arsene got hold of them. The current bunch aren’t that good, the captain knows it and cannot wait to join a team where he will win the medals his talent deserves.I won’t bother listing the many leads thrown away since Paris 2006 in full, but those that still haunt include Anfield in the Champions League quarter-final 2008, and the 4-4 draw at home to Spurs the following season. Once Arsenal establish a lead, they continue playing the open attacking football, but fail to kill off the game. They got away with it at Everton last weekend, they did not yesterday. Tottenham had few chances, but critically, when presented with the opportunity, they converted them. Sometimes, the reluctance to shoot, such as Chamakh’s when clean through on goal with (from memory, I might be wrong) the score at 2-2, is bewildering. It doesn’t have to be passed every time. Too often the player with the best opportunity to score shirks the responsibility to get an attempt on goal. Mental strength?I do actually believe that this group of players are capable of winning trophies. They just need to be coached to do it. Individual weaknesses can be worked on and the team play can be addressed. They are technically skilful, but do not have the right mental approach to win football matches week-in, week-out. They are inconsistent, sometimes appearing unmotivated. They exist in a comfort bubble that does not challenge them, a womb created by the manager. No-one gets near his precious babies. That would include a coach that might tell them to do something that makes their game a little less beautiful. Things need shaking up badly at the club if Arsenal are to win trophies again. Home defeats to West Brom, Newcastle and now Spurs are not flukes. They are indicative of a team in need of guidance.Arsenal are two points off the lead, but please let us not kid ourselves that things are in a good situation. The team lost three at home in 2001-02 but won the title because they were unbeaten away all season. Arsenal still have to play Manchester United twice and Chelsea will ruin Christmas for a good number on December 27th. And the Gunners can’t be relied upon to beat anybody, never mind the top two. United haven’t played well all season but are unbeaten and Chelsea will lift themselves out of this malaise once Drogba fully recovers and Essien returns. The chance was there, but the current regime are not able to exploit opportunities, just throw away promising situations, frustrating the fans.The culture of complacency at Arsenal when it comes to football matters thrives. It means nothing is going to change soon. The team will get enough points to make the top four and next season’s Champions League. They will be eliminated in the last eight or sixteen in Europe by a team better equipped to win two-legged football ties. It will be déjà-vu. There is no wisdom in these pronouncements. Everyone knows it, including those in charge of hiring and firing the manager. The players will not be sat down in front of a commemorative DVD of yesterday’s game and ordered to watch the second half three times over to analyse their mistakes. Arsene Wenger will spout more delusional bullshit in press conferences. Love will tear us apart, sure enough. However, to finish on another musical reference from the days when I had hair, in our heart of hearts, I think that today, the majority of Gooners will agree, something better change

  • funty

    Nothing has improved at Arsenal and we have not moved forward at all. The ONLY reason we are two points ahead is because Chelsea have lost three of the last four games and Man Utd are a shadow of their former selves. Arsenal are not a very good side at all and our defence is the poorest i have seen in my life time. We will never win anything like this and we need to rebuild our defence around english players simply because they understand the english game – i would keep clichy who could do a good job on the left wing a la gareth bale and i would keep vermaelin but the others simply have got to go – you have to wonder why we even considered buying squillaci and koscelny because they are not anywhere near good enough – koscelny is hopeless. I just think Arsenal need to look at Wenger and realise that he has taken the club as far as he can – i would like to see a new face at Arsenal and a few less foreign faces – they just have no concept or loyalty at all.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    @ Goonerman:

    My point is that we paid thesame amount on French second division player than spurs did on a world class player. If you had the choice which one would you buy??? AW seems to be useless a buying defensive players. I think he needs to bite the bullet and buy known players.

  • edison

    I think with thomas vermaelen and a goalkeeper thats abit of a threat to attackers (although fabianski has done well recently) we would have easily seen the game through.

    wasnt vermaelen our top goal scorer at this point last season ? i think we are missing him more than arsene is letting on.

  • funty

    Much as I hate to say it because the papers constantly whinge about it, but we lack an english spine.

    Looking at Chamakh yesterday, he didnt seem to understand just how much it matters to the fans. He just didn’t get it, didn’t know the history, the passion of this particular fixture. And he wasn’t alone.

    For example, if we’d played Wilshere yesterday I GUARANTEE he’d have put in more than denilson or song, just because it was the scum. He knows what this fixture is all about and he’d have done everything he could to ensure we won that game.

    If you look at Liverpool, Chelsea, United – you’ve got Gerrard and Carragher who will give everything they have to beat Everton.

    Rio, Rooney, Scholes – Rooney isnt even a manc but he knows what it means to beat city and they’ll give their all.

    Chelsea even have Lampard and Terry who know what these big fixtures mean.

    We don’t have ANYONE like that. we don’t have people with the determination, grit, drive, passion to see it out. They walk home with their wages regardless. They don’t give a toss about the fans because THEY ARE NOT FANS THEMSELVES. I’m not saying they have to be arsenal fans, they just need to understand the passion of the fixture.

    To the denilsons, the songs, the koscielnys and chamakhs, this is just another fixture. Merson on SSN said yesterday when the fixture list is announced, the first one they looked for was the scum. Nowdays, I bet they look for Chelsea, United etc.

    There’s no passion instilled in these players, they just dont understand. They play their game, take their huge wages and go home to their nice big houses in their flash cars.

  • funty

    the fact that we havent won anything for 6 years? The fact that we have mercenaries at our club, An embarrassment. Cesc can stomp around all he likes but that handball was stupidity, whether he is sulking or just in a continuous bad mood he needs to get a grip and lead. It is what he gets paid for. It is his job as captain. He is flying into tackles like the type of player he has seen do graphic damage to a players limb, and yesterday he hand balled a free-kick that would have missed or been saved, in his own penalty area at 2-1 up. What a dumb arsed thing to do, stupid, inexplicable, reckless.. And more.You are captain. LEAD. Not just by performance, that isn’t enough – talk, shout and rally your troops at 2-1. He had his head down and just wandered back towards halfway, where was his fight? Where was the player that took a penalty against Barcelona with a broken leg? Most of all, where was your pride and passion? This season right from the off Cesc has been on a hiding to nothing, I realise that and its a lose-lose situation for him but his performances haven’t matched up to last season, be it injuries or being stifled by other players in the side. He could be a lot more vocal though. I have one memory that sticks… when England lost to France at Euro 2004, after England scored Beckham was trying to keep them calm, keep their heads, here was a player who wasn’t the most vocal on the pitch but he wanted to get his teams heads right. It didn’t work but its just something that has always come back to me. It was leadership.There wasn’t any from Cesc, from most of the players on that pitch.van Persie showed it, as did Samir Nasri. The others? They just don’t understand, it is by all means probably just another game to them. They won’t understand how much this will hurt the fans, the 60,000 passionate fans inside the Emirates stadium that can do nothing about the final result – the eleven on the pitch can do everything for the final result but they miss that extra spark that is created in these games. In some cases, as I show above, players can identify with the fans, get that spark and extra bit of passion. What really gets me though is that the majority of those players won’t be feeling like we are now. They need to feel that.There was no guts yesterday, they didn’t have the balls to finish the job off. Tottenham didn’t win that game, I will always maintain that – they deserve a lot of credit for pulling off a comeback this team wouldn’t – but we handed it to them on a plate. You have to now say they have made their statement, they have arrived as a force and now we have to respect them. They look a hungry team, something we haven’t replicated. Arsenal have epitomised everything I have ever stated and more about their lack of ability to win matches that they dominate. The bragging rights today belong to Arsenal’s shadow club after a pathetic tactical display from Wenger. I was specifically waiting for today’s match praying I would be eating humble pie, writing an article about Arsenal called “Are we going to do it now?” The answer based on today’s performance is simply NO. I was jumping for joy as many of you were in the first half at a masterclass of typical Arsenal play. Slick passing oozing with sheer flair were making Spurs look like true spuds; rooted to the ground stuck watching! This is the biggest game for true Arsenal fans as this is the match on the fixture list we care about the most.Nasri was immense as ever showing his promise of developing into one of the finest midfielders on the planet. I look at this squad I say how are we not dominating this league. Chelsea were poor against Sunderland and Birmingham; yet again we fail to take top spot. Those 3 home defeats to West Brom, Newcastle and Spurs are a kick in the teeth to any Arsenal fan.If Arsenal put displays like this on at home again they should refund all season ticket holders for their lack of ability to win matches that they should. In the second half it was typical Arsene Wenger and typical Arsenal. 2 – 0 and comfortable then the tempo drops, inviting pressure from the opposition which they get luck on and capitalise. Wenger should have never taken Samir Nasri off which was a massive mistake. Chamakh was awful and woeful in that second half along with Denilson and Song. The defence was poor and overall is a miserable day for true Arsenal fans. I hope all of you finally can agree that changes need to happen in either the squad, manager, backroom staff and coaching, if we are to finally win that silverware that we as fans have been more than patient in waiting for. I firmly stand by the notion that Wenger must move upstairs and we need a better tactical manager in with a completely new backroom team. Yesterday was a dark day for all of us and I hope Wenger apologises to fans for that disgraceful showing

  • funty

    Im sick and tired of watching the team come out for a 2nd half looking lethargic and blatantly “not up for it”!! Instead of geeing them up he must relax them and calm them down, Sperz came out with a rocket up their arses and looking like they badly wanted it, a different formation trying to get back into the game, we came out looking like we had spent 15 mins in a relaxation room!!! Surely he knew they would come out for the 1st 10 all guns blazing? surely he knew we had to keep it tight for the 1st 15 mins? Wenger sits their refusing to change anything hoping something will just happen! This is shite management along with dropping Djourou who was our best player against Wolves and Everton!! SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE! Thought i would feel better this morning but im even more frustrared!!!!!! FUCK

  • Goonerman

    @gooner get ya
    Given the option of having van der vaart I think webber still would not of bought him and I think spurs got lucky because if man united or Chelsea had of know about his availability he would not be a tottenham player now! I have to say I’m not over impressed with kosclieny and webber Is not as good as buying defensive players as he is attacking but if you look at sagna and vermaelen they were both 10 million and are now 2 of the best players in their position in the league!!

  • Goonerman

    Wenger not webber it’s this stupid iPhone correction!

  • tyoung

    What about Denilson? If you watch the 1st goal He starts ahead of Van Der Vaart but Is easily beaten to Defoe’s flick on. Then it’s clear that someone needs to pick up Bale who’s free But he hardly moves just keeps jogging back to his own goal.He has good ball skills but he is really lacking in pace and he doesn’t have the bite for a defensive midfielder. There’s a queue for the central attacking midfield position. i think his future at Arsenal is limited.

  • edison

    I guess the second half was ‘ANOTHER’ bad day at the office.

    @ funty- its got absolutely nothing to do with having an english spine mate. Im sure the likes of Bergkamp, Henry and Pires would understand the importance of a game agains sp*rs and none of them are english.

    our current spine (when fit) Fabregas, RVP and Vermaelen – all understand the importance of the game against our rivals and im pretty sure none of them are english either.

    If you are on about lazy/inexperienced attitudes of some players, when our team could have done with a bit of grit to see the game out, then i agree with you.

    And seeing how england played the other night against france, i doubt having an english spine would do anyone any favors at the moment.

  • deamon

    jesus lads… there is some negative negative people.. at the end of the day it was a football match and although we had it in the bag, we threw it away.. it dont mean we are a poor team or wenger should be sacked.. it was a cracking game of football and it puts the manchester teams to shame.. im still very proud to be an arsenal supporter and just want to say congrats to tottenham for a great comeback.. if there is one thing i was worried about it was the subs wenger made.. i think its time to go back to 2 up front especially at home… any thoughts???

  • Goonerman

    @Edison
    What I think funty is trying to say is that we need maybe a couple more players that really care for the team and really get what some things mean to the fans! Not just english players but they are good examples to use, gerrard, carragher,Parker, terry, lampard, Ferdinand! These players love their club as much as the fans !! And I know they are young but I really believe wilshere and Gibbs in the next few years can be our own versions because they love this club like we do!!

  • funty

    I’ve been a fan of this club for 40 years, I have seen the good and the bad. Wenger has been our best ever manager without doubt, but something has gone seriously wrong with him and most people have their own opinions on why. He was never tactically good, but the way the team performed with World Class talent like Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp and Pires, it didn’t matter most of the time. But now we don’t have that talent except for maybe Cesc and we also lack motivational players like Keown, Adams, Winterburn and Toure. I so want this team to be successful but feel 5 years of making the same mistakes is too much. And yesterday was probably one of the most stomach churning results I’ve had to endure in 40 years, even worse than losing to Nayim’s halfway line goal and losing at Wrexham in 92. At least in both those games we felt they were flukes and one-offs. Yesterday wasn’t. This could all have been avoided if Arsene had done his job properly and listened to people over the years, but he hasn’t. I would so love to be proved wrong, but I really can’t see any mileage in Wenger’s reign anymore. Its a sad and horrible way for him to go, but I feel its for the best for both parties. Arsenal continue to drop points at home. There is know way Arsenal can win the league untill Wenger swallows his his pride and goes to the transfer market. Its all very well developing young talent but this has been his approach for the past 4 years and where has this got him. No-where. Wenger needs to bring in some ‘hard nose’ players who know how to perform on a consistant basis. They don’t need to be the most fashionable players but they know how to win and never take a backward step. Its about getting a balance between flair and ‘hard nose’ mentality. Because at the moment Arsenal is totally lop-sided towards flair, yet a weak mentality. One point that was again demonstrated for me yeaterday was how Nasri on his own made and got that first goal. Not one of our players thought for a moment it was worth running into the box to get on the end of anything that may have come off from Nasri’s efforts. They all decided to watch almost as spectators to see what would happen. I have seen this far too often in this team. For me its an indication of the arrogance and laziness in the team. The players are only interested in passy-passy and ball watching. Fix it Wenger – LIKE THATS GONNA HAPPEN – You can expect the usual drivel IF we win against Braga. ‘mental strength bla bla bullshit

  • eubank52

    A tale of two halves