Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday September 16 2007
O.K. So the headline might be a little misleading, it was a great team performance, and in truth, his goals apart, Adebayor had a bit of a shocker. But with all the talk of takeovers around our way and Adebayor replacing Pires as Totteridge's 'bete noir', I could not resist having a little fun and continuing the Vital tradition of witty Adebayor based headlines. Incidentally, there is a rather generous word limit on these article templates, but I'm going to surrender myself before I begin to submitting this report in two parts. Firstly, becasue I want to dissect this glorious victory in gruelling detail. Secondly, because it was an incredibly eventful game (which I have now seen highlights of on four separate occasions and counting). Lastly, because I've just submitted my piece for this for the Gooner in which I had the thankless task of cramming it all into 600 words!
After barely two and a half hours sleep and a head thick with Guinness, I took to the platform of East Croydon station with some trepidation. I really felt this might be the day that the Spuddies redressed our recent domination of this fixture. Of course, the two sides are enjoying contrasting fortunes at the moment. Arsenal, written off by journalists who cannot be bothered to watch the game of football, in their pomp. And Tottenham, championed by journalists too lazy to watch the game of football, in terminal decline. But derby games do not always follow the form book with rigid discipline. Plus, the sun shines on a dog's arse once a day doesn't it? My usual accomplice for away matches was voluntarily indisposed, tired of the constant intimidation and violence of a trip to the Lane. Meeting with Greg at Tottenham Hale, I had to gently remind him not to talk so openly about flights to Seville! Happily, the journey to the ground was utterly trouble free and the usual air of intimidation was surprisingly truant.
Arriving in the ground, the away section were vocally resplendant. The first half began with Arsenal demonstrating a composure befitting of their current form. Adebayor struck the first blow, foreshadowing his last gasp master piece by collecting van Persie's pass, which sat up for him twenty five yards out, but his well struck volley was elaborately tipped over by Fat Boy. There was no sign of Tottenham's well rehearsed North London Derby masterplan, knackering themselves out in the first twenty minutes. But that did not prevent Tottenham assuming an early lead in this fixture for the sixth time in five years. Gilberto tripped Berbatov outside the box and Garteh Bale's dipping daisy cutter had Almunia beaten, leading the home support to gesticulate wildly towards our small corner of the South Stand. I would apportion the blame for the goal as a rough 50 50 split between Hleb and Almunia. On the edge of the wall, Hleb should have jumped to meet Bale's effort. For Almunia's part, having got down so quickly and so well, he really should have got a nice strong arm to beat the attempt out.
Arsenal were on the case instantly, a long throw-in from the robust Sagna found Adebayor who would hit the second in a triumvirate of powerful volleys, but Robbo had his angles covered for a change and saved Ade's attempt from the angle. The game rattled along from end to end, with Arsenal staying true to their passing game. Fabregas collected the ball in midfield, Adebayor subtly played in Hleb with a sly reverse pass, but Robinson saved Hleb's weak effort. van Persie played the rebound across the six yard box, but Arsenal's attack were too inert to sniff out the chance. Minutes later, the away side created their most gilt edged chance. Alex Hleb danced past Kaboul and threaded the ball through to the unmarked Diaby in acres of space on the back post, but he conspired to spoon the ball onto the crossbar with the goalnet whispering sweet nothings into his ear. Tottenham gave Arsenal some trouble on the long ball, with Berbatov giving Gilberto a bit of a torrid time with his unerring ability to pluck Robinson's high kicks out of the air. No disrespect to Gilberto who performed admirably in spite of jetlag, but Berbatov would give most defenders a torrid time. On one such occasion, Berbatov wriggled away from Gilberto and flighted in a delightful cross, but the ineffective Keane could not control it in front of goal. The half time whistle sounded, greeted with a cautious cheer from the home support. I was surprisingly calm about the situation at the break, we were creating chances and we have shown ourselves to be a very fit side over the last few seasons. Much has been said about our propensity to late goals this season, but a look at the statistics will reveal that this is by no means a recent phenomenon. Besides, a one goal defecit at the Lane at the break, we had been here before. To be continued.........
Date:Sunday September 16 2007
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