Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Dismal Derby, Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal

Well, the international break has given me a chance to catch up a bit, as well as some other things.  During the break, there were some spectacular matchups and a few big upsets as well.  I hope to get to those in a later post, but for now let's take a look back at the infamous North London Derby.

The Spurs could smell the blood in the water and were looking to pull one over on their weakened rivals.  White Hart Lane was rife with anticipation and the hosts took the pitch with confidence.  Coming off a nervy Champions League win at midweek, the Gunners looked timid, fully aware of the test that lay before them.  Tottenham were poised to strike and easily controlled the opening play.  There were faint glimmers of Arsenal brilliance but communication was lacking and the passing was sloppy.  With half an hour gone, the Spurs' Defoe fed Van der Vaart with a lovely cross and the Dutchman forced a save from the Arsenal keeper.  Nerves were subsiding and the Gunners began making good runs forward.  Gervinho edged a shot wide and then it was Walcott's turn to miscue his strike.  The shots were off target but they were finally moving in the right direction.  All that would end in just a moment's notice.  On the 40 minute mark, former Gunner Adebayor lifted a ball over the defense to the waiting Van der Vaart who chested the ball before placing it out of reach in the top corner of the net.  There were several appeals for handball but the play stood.  It was the goal the crowd had been waiting for and the celebrations were uninhibited.  Tottenham surged, looking to finish the tie.  However, after the break momentum had swung in the visitors favor.

Sensing the urgency, the boys in red responded.  Minutes after the restart, Alex Song exploded in miles of space down the left side.  He swung in  a cross at the near post and Aaron Ramsey smashed home the goal.  Until the score, the Welshman had had a disappointing game to say the least.  Arsenal were back in it with the scores level and everything to play for.  Applying more pressure, the visitors were nearly stung by a Spurs counterattack.  Adebayor somehow managed to find himself alone with the keeper, but in a twist of delicious irony, the no-longer Arsenal forward could not find the net against his former team.  Szczesny had one more to add to his bag of fine saves on the afternoon.  Unfortunately, the failed attempt inspired the hosts and they renewed their offensive.  Wenger subbed in Jenkinson for the injured Sagna and installed Benayoun to help protect the young back.  His experience however, was not enough to prevent another Tottenham strike.  Song blocked an effort by Modric, but the ball fell to the Spur's Walker who ripped his shot past an off balance keeper.  Advantage Spurs.  Arshavin was enlisted to aid the comeback with even Mertesacker and Szczesny crowding the box for a pair of corners deep into stoppage time.  It was not enough and Tottenham would see their lead through to completion, taking advantage of a young defense.

Keep it coming!
The win gives Tottenham two in succession over their North London rivals.  Last season the Gunners lost at home to the Spurs for the first time in a decade.  Arsenal did not seem themselves in the match.  There's at least one fan hoping the Gunners can regroup and refocus during the break and finally get the Premier League campaign on track when they host Sunderland at the Emirates this coming Sunday.  A bright side on the day, is that this match was broadcast in the US on Fox immediately following an NFL game.  Ratings numbers were good and this is a promising development for EPL fans stateside.  There is another Fox Sunday afternoon game slated for November 27th featuring Liverpool and Man City at Anfield.  Lets keep those numbers up so we can see more EPL games on regular television!

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