What a day, what a game and, more importantly, what a performance by Arsenal. This was, as I have said before, the first match in around 15 years when Tottenham were clear favourites to win… and I admit that even I, the ultimate optimist, was unsure of our ability to beat a very strong Tottenham side. The question was whether or not Arsenal would turn up.
The answer to the question: oh boy, we turned up and then some. It would be incorrect, however, to claim that our performance was perfect, as we mustn’t forget the extremely uncomfortable first five minutes. Tottenham started well and were stroking the ball round confidently; we, contrastingly, were looking nervous on the ball and shaky defensively. This was soon capitalised on when Saha was found in too much space and scored one of the most fortunate goals I’ve ever seen.
We responded well and thus their second goal was completely against the run of play and, truthfully, completely undeserved. A blatant dive from Bale could easily have got Sczcesny sent off. This is of little consequence now, but I would have been extremely p****d off if we’d lost.
I mentioned that we responded well to going down, but that was an understatement. The truth is, we were completely dominant from the fifth minute onwards…and the reason? Passion. Every single ball was contested with 110% commitment. The number of times Emmanuel Adebayor was legitimately floored was amazing. All of our back line was superb (after the fifth minute, of course), but a special shout out must go to Kieran Gibbs, who was great offensively and defensively – and that after only a couple of games back from injury. That back five showed a real desire not to lose the game and did Arsenal Football Club proud.
Our attacking players were, similarly, superlative. Van Persie reclaimed his top form and was influential in all bar one of our goals. Walcott also played well in the second half, though he had some poor moments in the first. Arteta and Song were, as per usual, reliable and solid. Finally, Benayoun and Rosicky were simply amazing. There were raised eyebrows (and by that I mean very vocal complaints) when Wenger started Benayoun over the Ox. Benayoun answered the questions with a performance fuelled by guile and intelligence. The Israeli was key in opening up Tottenham’s compact defence, shown by the number of through balls to which he was either creator or recipient. Despite the abundance of great performances, Rosicky’s pipped it for me. He proved his critics wrong today. Throughout the game, he was dynamic, sharp and clever. The Czech Republican deserved his excellently taken goal and receives my man of the match.
In conclusion, Arsenal absolutely schooled Tottenham today, with a result that takes us within seven points of them and, since they are playing Man Utd next weekend, we can tentatively start dreaming of third. Furthermore, let’s not make any excuses for them; there were no bad decisions against them and they had no players injured. Aside from Jack Wilshere, this was Arsenal’s best team against Tottenham’s and we won through superior quality and desire. So…Tottenham the best team in London? My arse they are.