Accountability helps humiliate Spurs

by JAMES CURTIS – The rage in Cesc Fabregas’ eyes was uncontrollable as he raced to one corner of the Emirates, executed a mini knee-slide and bounced back up with clenched fists to celebrate Arsenal’s second goal. Just one minute earlier Robin van Persie had circled the same section with his arms flung out and chest pumping having opened the scoring.
For more than 40 minutes it felt as if the north London derby had been played in a fish tank, so languid was the tempo of the game. Passes were under hit, tackles were sluggish and it was looking like a contest between two sides intent on seeing who could win in the most leisurely way.
“I believe the fluency lacked a little bit in the first half an hour,” said Wenger. “We played a little bit with the handbrake and couldn’t find our usual fluency.”
Rarely could either side keep the ball for more than 10 passes. On many occasions players would stumble stretching for a loose ball, adding to the lethargic aquatic feel.
But then came a moment of electricity from Van Persie in the 42nd minute. Bacary Sagna reacted quickly crossing to the near post for the slick Dutchman to beat  Ledley King and steer home with an outstretched boot.
Moments later a forlorn Spurs were restarting from the centre circle, but before they knew it the unrestrained Fabregas stole in leaving a trail of white bodies behind who could only watch as he drove a low shot into the corner past Gomes.
Apart from a couple of half-chances there hadn’t been many openings for the Gunners despite their more threatening stance on the game, compared to the lonely figure of Peter Crouch upfront for Spurs.
It was in desperate need of a moment of responsibility to send the Emirates into rupture and how it came in the shape of Fabregas and Van Persie who stayed alert when the rest of the field looked to have lapsed just before half-time.
The fashion then in which Fabregas and Van Persie carried the team in the north London derby is proof that accountability is present at Arsenal.
As much as Andrey Arshavin has instantly taken on a senior role at the club, his girth for derby day was heavily tested. The thick-skinned little Russian felt the wrath of Vedran Corluka and so drifted in and out of the game.
When the team needed to look elsewhere, Van Persie leapt forward to continue his goal scoring streak with a brace and the skipper himself chipped in with a goal full of heart and determination. In addition, Fabregas’ riotous behaviour after scoring his goal was a welcome change to the comedic dances of Emmanuel Adebayor.
At the back, header upon header was won by Thomas Vermaelen over the lofty Crouch. William Gallas swept up everything else on the ground. Sometimes defending became a little sloppy. One thing was for sure though, Arsenal never switched off from dealing with the second ball showing further seniority in front of the returning Manuel Almunia.
“In the second half we always played a little bit restricted but once we got the third goal you didn’t have the impression that Spurs could come back and we didn’t give any goal chances away,” added Wenger.
“But during that period we were serious and overall despite the fact we won 3-0 we had a good defensive performance and our back five was very efficient. We dealt well with their offensive problems.”
At one point in the first half Crouch nodded down into Robbie Keane’s path – he was bound to win a few headers – but through came Alex Song taking responsibility to track his man and stop the Irishman with a well timed tackle as he bore down on goal.
Prior to the League Cup victory over Liverpool in mid-week, Wenger’s men had spoken about learning lessons from the two games against AZ Alkmaar and West Ham where a mere lack of concentration turned comfortable wins into aggrieved draws.
Yesterday Wenger’s men seemed to have brought their notes to the ground. The Emirates may not have been graced with the fluid football synonymous with Arsenal; those comeback demons however would not be making an appearance this Halloween as Arsenal’s seniority guided them to a deserved derby victory.
The question is this though: will Arsenal’s new ‘each man is responsible policy’ waiver after this game?
It is difficult to say, but Wenger has claimed in the past that this team is strong because it notices it’s own errors and puts them right. The Frenchman believes this to be a true sign of quality players.
On the day they delivered what they promised. Saturday was a step to making right past errors during a game of magnitude, to the team itself and the gathering fans.
Safe to say then Arsenal showed a great deal of accountability. It was the difference between a Spurs team full of individuals who each shifted on responsibility and a victorious Arsenal one.
Arsenal are no longer juvenile, but ripening just in time for a title push.

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