Head up the Arse-nal
Arsenal were ascendant for about 15 minutes following Alexander Song’s brilliant foray down the left flank and equally scintillating cross which led to the Aaron Ramsey equalizer. A commanding midfield performance recycled the attack and the Spurs citadel looked shaky. Any time there would be a follow up to the Ramsey goal. Or so we thought.
Instead it was Kyle Walker’s cannonball dipping and swerving to bamboozle Wojciech Szczesny who was having a monstrous game having stopped Adebayor point blank a few minutes before. Spurs once again hurt the Gunners through a long distance bomb against the run of play. It’s becoming quite the standard accolade in these derbies. Time for Arsenal to crank up the engine to get an equalizer. Or so we thought.
The last 15 minutes brought up one of the most puzzling and disjointed spectacles as Per Mertesacker was pushed up front as center forward. Did that work out? Because the only way to justify that move was to lug some long balls to him so he could work his 6′ 5″ frame to advantage. Ramsey could not pass for the love of toffee and Yossi Benayoun fell foul to the same disease. There was no service to the box as Arsenal spend excruciating periods of time dawdling in the backfield trying to back pass their way forward. Spurs proving equally adept at taking away the ball.
The balance of power in the North London derby has inexorably shifted to White Hart. As some wag on the Guardian commented, there may not be a derby to look forward to next year. This was not even a particularly good Spurs display till Sandro’s introduction allowed Spurs to correct their midfield imbalance and open up their attack. For Arsenal, Gervinho twisted this way and that way like a headless chicken but the one golden chance he had he wasted. Ramsey looks terribly short of self assurance. The one bright spark was Francis Coquelin who was quite commanding in the first half before he tarnished himself with some sloppy passing late in the second. He had plenty of company in that department.
The international break is on us and once again it comes at a time for us to lick our wounds. At this point, one wonders where Arsenal will end up? The league will be decided by the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea is in strong position to finish third, and Newcastle and Stoke join Liverpool and Spurs in the dogfight for fourth. Arsenal if it continues on this course is looking at a lower table finish. Wenger after the match:
“At the moment, we have to set realistic targets and to get in touch with teams that fight to be in the Champions League positions.”
The realistic goal should be to take one match at a time and try and win as many for some upward mobility. It’s not the time to get tied to a Champions League spot or look to teams in contention. For Arsenal this is an all too rare predicament of digging deep where improvement is measured by increments.
Wenger also brought up Arsenal lacking confidence but an improvisational choice of Per Mertesacker while leaving Park Chu Young on the bench shows a lack of self belief on the manager’s part. There are also questions as to why he chose not to play Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain or Marouane Chamakh. The last thing needed is to bring out a cipher like Stan Kroenke to parrot another series of mindless platitudes.