Neutrals, footy pundits, analysts, and everyone else apart from Arsenal supporters spent the last week writing the club’s obituary in permanent marker. No matter where you looked, all conversations hinted to a power shift, Spu*s coming out of the shadow, Pochettino surpassing Wenger, etc.
Essentially all media outlets in the UK were in bed with our North London rival, but man did they have a rude awakening on Saturday. You would have thought that heading into the match, Arsenal were the ones sweating over the fitness of their two best players, given how the media had already written off Arsene Wenger’s men.
Heading into the match, I was confident, simply for the fact that it was at the Emirates. Actually, had it been at Wembley, I’d probably be equally as confident considering we do well there.
After watching in real-time, it couldn’t help but to be excited for the result, but seeing how my fellow Gooners were reacting on social media, I figured it would be worth watching it again. So, that’s exactly what I did. With the wife and baby sound asleep, I watched it back, paying close attention to the minor details that we’d generally miss, given all the excitement of a live broadcast. From movements off the ball, to Pochettino changing his rain jacket at halftime, I was able to notice it all.
A lot was said about Mesut Ozil’s performance, and while I agree he certainly put in a shift, I paid close attention to him throughout his time on the pitch.
In the first 1o minutes, the German international was honestly a bystander. He got the ball once about six minutes in, and still in our half, with Vertonghen fouling him as he turned on the ball. Apart from that, Arsenal just wasn’t able to keep hold of the ball. It wasn’t until about the 10:10 mark that Ozil completed his first pass, which was to Lacazette. Nothing fancy, but, nonetheless, it was a successful pass.
As we neared the halfway mark of the first half, I tweeted that Ozil wasn’t as involved as we needed him to be, and shortly after, he made his way over to the left side, where he was immediately effective. A pass played in behind the defenders, and Ozil’s cross was sent out for a corner kick. Not long after, he found himself in behind the back line again, this time courtesy of a Bellerin pass on the right, but Eric Dier was there to send it out for another corner.
While all of this was unfolding, I was still in amazement at the fact that Arsenal were incredibly organized on and off the ball. In a match of this magnitude, against your fiercest rival, generally I’d expect them to bomb forward, leaving all sorts of gaps at the back, exposing Xhaka, and leaving poor ol’ Cech helpless in between the sticks. Fear not my fellow Gooners, that was not on the cards for Saturday.
I watched closely as Tottenham moved the ball from side to side, and Dembele controlled the pace of the match. The Arsenal players matched their movements, shadowing their opponents every step of the way, leaving nearly no space in between lines. Erik-niesta, which is what the English media made it seem the Danish midfielder had morphed into overnight, was struggling to find any space to operate in. Whenever he got the ball, he was being pressed. He must have forgot he wasn’t playing against Ireland. You’re going to have to earn your chances here chap!
After that first goal, my confidence grew, as would be expected. Despite Tottenham controlling the match, which some supporters will disagree with, we found ourselves ahead. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, it came from a soft foul, and, a marginal offside, which Mike Dean and his linesman missed. Generally when Mike Dean is in charge, those calls go against us, but hey, it’s almost Christmas, he was in a giving spirit. Thanks chap, we’ll gladly take it, considering all the bullsh*t and frustration you’ve put us through over the years.
That second goal was the icing on the cake, in my opinion, for two reasons.
One, anyone notice that there was no pressure on the ball from the Tottenham players? Their defensive line was holding it down about 30 yards from goal, allowing all sorts of space in behind them. What the heck were they thinking?! As soon as Bellerin got that ball, and no pressure was put on him, they should have dropped off, instead, they decided they’d take a quick nap, only to allow Lacazette in behind, which gave Alexis the chance to send one into the roof of the net, while also sending Lloris onto his arse in the process.
The second part of this goal, which really was the first part, interested me most.
Remember Erik-niesta? Well, he received the ball, with his back to the Arsenal goal, about 30 yards from his own goal, he took a touch with his chest, and punted it over his head. It traveled about 10-12 yards at most. He gave up possession, and that play resulted in Arsenal’s second goal. Now, no one mentions that. I wonder why? Maybe Poch and Levy pulled the sheets over all the pundits’ and analysts’ eyes while they were all laying in bed together?
He gave the ball away cheaply, three Spu*s players made a half-hearted attempt to get it back, and it quickly turned into an Arsenal goal. Could you just imagine if that was Ozil, or Alexis? My dear lord! Headlines would talk about how that was so careless, they don’t care about the club, they should leave now, they hate Arsenal, they hate the supporters, they hate the Queen of England, they hate long walks on the beach… you get my point, right? But, since it’s a beloved Spu*s player, we’ll just carry on, silence as usual.
That first half was by no means Arsenal’s best going forward, but in terms of organization, determination and grit, it was up there with the best of them. Everyone knew their role, they were disciplined on and off the ball, and they were ready for battle.
After the break, and Pochettino’s change of rain coat, I expected more space to take advantage of, but, we had to make sure of not getting ahead of ourselves. The last thing we needed was to let the two non-existent stars up until that point an opportunity to give their fanboys a chance to perk up in their seat.
We continued to defend well, Mustafi and Koscielny were on an absolute mission, and we were beginning to see AOL grow in confidence. From quick counter attacks, to their movement off the ball, Vertonghen and Dier had no idea what was next. Fortunately Sanchez was back there to calm the situation more often than not. As a side note here, that young man is going to be a great defender, it’s unfortunate he’s hanging out in the shadows of North London though.
Time was ticking away, we were still up for the fight, Ramsey wasn’t yet bombing forward at the wrong moments, and Ozil was tracking back to pick the pocket of a few Spu*s players. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. What had got into the German? If there’s one criticism we consistently give him is the fact that off the ball, he appears lazy, and doesn’t necessarily put in a shift defensively. Well, on Saturday, he silenced all his doubters, even if just for the time being.
After 74 minutes, when Dele and Kane came off, I couldn’t help but laugh… a lot!
How could England’s saviors have put in such a sh*t performance? Harry Kane at least had a shot saved by Cech, a header saved by Cech, and a shot blocked by the great wall of Mustafi. But Dele, what the hell did he do?
I can’t remember who it was, but, a former player said that if Ozil had put in a performance like Dele in that match, everyone would be digging his grave. But, coincidentally, no one is talking about how irrelevant he was, or how poor Spu*s played, or how well Arsenal played. I wonder why that is!? It goes to show how obsessed with Spu*s the media is, and how Arsenal are the club they love to hate.
They talk about power shifts and all that other bullsh*t, but Spu*s haven’t won a damn title in how long? And what has Pochettino won at Spu*s? Fu&* all is your answer!
So while everyone was putting them on a high pedestal before kickoff, they’ve all slowly crawled back under their bed, trying to hide their face. Just because they finished ahead of us last season, doesn’t mean there are power shifts, or any of that other bullsh*t they want to talk about. They’ll now wait for the dust to settle, and will be desperately hoping that the Gunners drop points away to Burnley, so they can get back on that hater train.
Hate to break it to you all, but, North London has been, is, and will continue to be red, regardless of the bullsh*t you publish in the media.
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