I asked my mate if he would take a 1-0 defeat with 22 minutes left. It seemed they were more likely to get a second than we were an equaliser. However, my friend summed it up perfectly:
“No way, we are not going to lose to the scum at home, we will pull off some lucky shit here”
He was spot on. I lost count of the chances Spurs missed in both the first and second half. Bendtner had one header well saved and that was the only chance of the game for Arsenal. However, one brilliant pass from sub Eduardo sent Theo clear. His shot was tame but it bounced up and went in off his head. There was the “lucky shit” my mate had talked about. Cue pandemonium, hugging the guy in the row in front, to the side etc. I got a few knocks to the head but who cares.
1-1 is a good result to take to White Hart Lane and when we really should have, we still have not lost to the Tottenham. The atmosphere was awesome with the whole lower tier standing, it was just a shame the club didnt sell the tickets as general sale with 7,000 empty seats in the upper tier. Oh well.
Wenger really surprised me with his team selection. Eduardo had 6 in 4 games yet only started on the bench. We were up against Tottenham’s first team and he had mentioned sticking with the team who got him to this semi final. So why was Van Persie selected ahead of Eddy. Van Persie is just back from injury and clearly not match fit. Eduardo is in lethal form and it showed as Van Persie was almost non existant.
I would have had Gallas in the squad to replace Song. I knew Djourou would start but I questioned this with Berbatov in good form. Again this proved a mistake as Djourou was poor. His positioning was slack and we were opened up so many times down his channel. If he wants to play at the back this month he must improve. Senderos did well at times but Berbatov really caused problems. He found space way too easily and Senderos failed to close him down at times. It was actually Justin Hoyte that impressed as Wenger switched him to the middle.
That was good management from Wenger. We were bad going forward but he knew suring up the defence would mean we would have a springboard to attack. Our defending became no-nonsense and we built from here. We did start to pump it long far too often and at times the long balls were not aimed to anyone. Sagna won more headers against Berbatov and we looked a lot more secure. As we pushed on we were open a bit at the back but on far less occasions than the 1st. We relied on poor finishing from Keane and Defoe to keep us in it.
Gilberto is past it. Simple as that. He was woeful. I would not be surprised if his passing accuracy was around 20% successful. Every ball seemed to go astray and we missed Diarra’s dominance and fight. He was left out which indicates he will be off soon. I heard Wenger has said noone else will leave in the window but it does seem on the cards. He did make one brilliant tackles on King one yard out but he has not shown this enough. Denilson was not given enough freedom due to the poorness of Gilberto. They did not link up and Denilson was having to track back too far. When Denilson got on the ball further forward he looked dangerous.
Walcott did well when he was able to get at his man but again his final ball was poor. He needs to improve this if he wants to start more games. He took too long in front of goal and then failed to pick out his fellow team mates. His goal even came from a miscue and a lucky rebound, but we will take it. Diaby was so worrying at times when he tried to dribble the ball out of dangerous areas and was caught a few times. When he got on with it and played the sensible ball when it was needed, his game improved. I would have liked to see his power in the middle.
He could have moved Sagna to left back, G.Hoyte to right back and push Traore on to left wing to use his pace. His crossing was very poor tonight and what he was doing when he blasted a free kick miles past anyone. He did do ok up against Lennon though; he stuck to his task throughout.
Eduardo should have started and showed his sharpness with the telling ball that keeps us in with a real chance in this tie. He threaded it between two defenders and that was the killer ball we lacked all evening. I felt sorry for Bendtner at times. The ball was lumped up to him and he was asked to try and hold it up or flick it on. No one got close enough to him and he had no runners off him. Van Persie looked short of fitness and only when we pushed forward did we profit from his work. At times he did lack hunger to get the ball and did not harry their players as they did to ours.
The ref was awful in my view. From the moment Dawson lunged in on Bendtner and walked away unpunished I saw what was coming. That tackle was worse than Mikel’s last night and had Bendtner not jumped could have caused serious injury. He bought Tottenham’s antics up everytime. They dropped like flies at the softest of touches and we got nothing from the ref after similar tackles.
We are still in though and in two weeks we have a real game on our hands. Wenger must play those in form next time though.
Fabianski – 5 – very dodgy at times
J.Hoyte – 7 – made a difference when he moved inside
Djourou – 5 – poor against Berbatov and Keane – did not get tight enough
Senderos – 7 – made some good tackles and interceptions.
Traore – 6 – dId ok against Lennon but disapointed when he got forward
Walcott – 7 – got the goal and ran at his man with real purpose
Gilberto – 4 – showed why so many fans want him out for Diarra – awful passing
Denilson – 6 – showed gilmpses but couldnt get on the ball enough
Diaby – 6 – needs to learn when to just get rid and move the ball quicker
Bendtner – 6 – hard work at times but sloppy play at others
Van Persie – 5 – too much to ask after injury – lacking in match practice
Subs: Eduardo – 7, Sagna, 7, Randall (no time)