A rocky start and an unstoppable rocket by Tomáš Rosický led to Spurs’ doom in the latest installment of the North London Derby. Arsenal painted Tottenham red, claiming victory at White Hart Lane for the first time in five years.
Just like the Chelsea match, Spurs started poorly and this time it cost them everything. But as slow as the defense started, there was nothing even the world’s best could do on the lone Arsenal goal. Tomáš Rosický scored in only the first minute on a seeing-eye shot to the far top corner over Hugo Lloris.
Spurs very slowly began to regain form.
After an almost fatal mistake and an outburst from Tim Sherwood, the club settled into their high line and began to carry play. Though Arsenal mounted several promising counters, they never found another goal. Spurs on the other hand were close several times, only to have an equalizer snatched away. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and defender Laurent Koscielny played important parts, with Koscielny making two especially important blocks in the second half.
This club is in a scary place right now. Desperate to stay afloat in the top-5 with a manager who is “learning on the job,” Spurs look to be at their breaking point. The team has talent, so nobody should rule out that they may just pull out a miracle, but nobody seems to want to take responsibility for the losses. Sherwood was quoted as saying “We didn’t deserve to lose that game.”
But guess what, Tim? Your team did lose. The whole team did not do enough when it mattered and it’s time to accept that and rally. Spurs went down only a minute into the game and had 89 to tie. As has been the case all season, they were missing that final ball.
If football were played in terms of “almost,” Spurs would top the table.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The players and management must accept that this is a huge problem and then take necessary steps to find a solution. The question for them now is, who will step up and do something about it?
So, how did Spurs do compared to the “Keys to Victory?”
1. Protect the House
Spurs goal differential continued to drop with this loss. They now sport a -3 at home and -1 differential overall. As noted above, the inability to score, especially in key moments, has been a major problem for Tottenham. Whether Sherwood can find a way to rectify this continues to come into question as the season winds down and Spurs have to fight to qualify for European competition.
2. Missing Pieces
As it turned out, even with the missing pieces in Arsenal’s lineup, Spurs still managed to field a far inferior team. Tim Sherwood did not take advantage of missing playmakers, instead selecting a side where very few of the players would have earned a spot in the opposing XI. This, combined with the system, gave up a potential advantage for Spurs.
3. Unlock Arsenal’s Defense
Spurs played a 4-2-3-1 yet again. They have shown an ineptitude at scoring in this formation and the Arsenal game was no exception. The high line/trap did not take effect until too late and Sherwood had both Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli playing out of position. Despite dominating possession at 59-41%, Spurs were terribly inefficient in generating chances. Good service for Adebayor came from neither side of centre and the defense looked porous despite adding the speedy Danny Rose back at left back.
Spurs: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Sandro (67′); Townsend, Bentaleb, Eriksen (81′), Chadli (68′); Adebayor
Subs: Friedel, Walker, Lennon, Paulinho (67′), Sigurdsson (68′), Kane, Soldado (81′).
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky (68′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (84′), Podolski (76′), Cazorla, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Monreal (76′), Vermaelen (84′), Jenkinson, Flamini (68′), Gnabry, Sanogo.
Arsenal – Sagna (21)
Tottenham Hotspur – Chadli (32)
Arsenal – Gibbs (45)
Tottenham Hotspur – Sandro (47)
Tottenham Hotspur – Vertonghen (75)
Arsenal – Flamini (79)
Tottenham Hotspur – Rose (92)
Tottenham Hotspur – Soldado (94)
Arsenal – Rosicky (1)