Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Kane goals undo Arsenal in North London Derby

Some things never change. Well so it seems anyway. Arsenal went into this North London derby full of confidence. They'd beaten the champions in their own back yard, reached the last sixteen of the FA Cup and thrashed Villa last weekend. The Gunners were one of the most in form sides in the League but that counts for nothing in a derby. It appears the Man City game hasn't changed anything, and we were back to our usual selves in what was our biggest game of the season in many people's eyes. On paper this Arsenal side looks a lot better than this Spurs side but credit where it's due to Mauricio Pochettino who has got the best out of his players.
Mesut Ozil scored for the third game running
It wasn't the defence that necessarily let us down though. Although both goals from Harry Kane were pretty soft to concede it was the midfield's performance that let us down the most. We appeared incapable of keeping the ball and that ultimately led to our downfall. We rarely kept the ball for a period of two minutes or longer and created next to nothing. In truth, Spurs deserved to win, and that hurts to say. Arsenal's performance was quite bizarre though, despite never being in the game, we weren't troubled to a huge extent in terms of efforts on our goal. David Ospina was forced into making a few decent saves in the first half but despite a hefty amount of pressure put on the Arsenal defence, Spurs didn't create an awful lot to worry us. But then again, neither did we.

Arsene Wenger's team selection caused a little bit of a stir, but it wasn't his fault we lost the game. Big game player Tomas Rosicky didn't start, and neither did Theo Walcott. Instead Danny Welbeck started down the right hand side, possibly for his work rate in terms of defence but it was his first game back from injury. Theo on the other hand, had just started to come into form. Although Theo would have offered more going forward it was Welbeck that created our goal. He left Danny Rose for dead, a man with whom he had an ongoing conflict with throughout the game, before picking out Giroud inside the area. The Frenchman scuffed his effort and found Ozil who volleyed home. It was the German's third goal in as many games and he's been a real influence since returning from injury.

That goal however, was the only bright spark of Arsenal's miserable day. Aaron Ramsey hasn't been the same player we saw last season and it seems as though he desperately needs to get back to the basics. He tries to over complicate things as a result slows our play down, and often gets dispossessed quite easily. Francis Coquelin's new contract wasn't exactly celebrated in the best of ways either on what was a tough afternoon for him. He broke up the play nicely at times but him and Ramsey didn't do a good job of controlling the game at all. It hasn't been said many times this season, but we missed Mikel Arteta and his calming influence.

The best Arsenal player though is up for debate but in my opinion I thought that went to Nacho Monreal. He hasn't had the easiest of times this season but he displayed against Spurs why he's been starting over one of our most consistent players in recent times, Kieran Gibbs. He dealt with Erik Lamela brilliantly and didn't put a foot wrong all match. He made some important interceptions and was also useful in the air, an asset he seems to have gained since playing in central defence when Koscielny was out injured. Our other fullback endured a much tougher game. Spurs were keen to get down that left hand side and tended on overloading through Eriksen, Kane and Danny Rose who got forward on plenty of occasions. Bellerin had a great game against Villa but looked more out of his depth this time around. He was often caught being dragged across, which left space down the left hand side.

It goes to say that Arsenal looked a lot better when Tomas Rosicky was introduced on 67 minutes. Cazorla who hadn't had the best game by his high standards was taken off and Rosicky's drive offered us something going forward in the latter stages. He managed to take the pressure off the defence a little by keeping possession in the final third but nothing ever seemed to be on for Arsenal. Spurs' defence wasn't really tested and with four minutes left Kane scored the winner with a fantastic header. Koscielny didn't get tight enough to him and he was allowed the freedom of the penalty area to head home.

I would've taken a draw, especially after all the pressure we had soaked up until that point. It's important that we don't linger on this result and a home game against Leicester on Tuesday night will be a good chance to avenge the result yesterday. The race for the fop four is really hotting up, and we need all the points we can get right now.

The team's line-ups:

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason(90), Dembele(75), Lamela(89), Eriksen, Kane.
Subs: Vorm, Fazio, Davies, Stambouli(89), Paulinho(90), Chadli(75), Soldado.

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin(89), Ramsey, Welbeck(78), Cazorla(67), Ozil, Giroud.
Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini, Rosicky(67), Walcott(78), Akpom(89).

My man of the match: Nacho Monreal.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Attendance: 35,659.

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