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:
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Denilson – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
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Arsene’s claims of tiredness after a weekday international foray – one thing he has to realise is that that excuse is no longer valid when we play a top 6 / top 7 team as they also have a plethora of players on international duty too.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