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Tottenham Hotspur 3 Arsenal 3

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Arsenal 3

Having decided to book a well earned week off of work, the build up to my least favourite game of the season was actually rather pleasant. Lunch with an old friend in Belsize Park rather took the mind off the torment that was about to ensue. Terry, Young Tim, Sean and I took the edge off a little further with a few pre game nerve settlers in the Euston Flyer. After that, it was time to brave the tube to Seven Sisters and the long walk up the Tottenham High Road amidst the buzz of police helicopters in the clinging early evening heat.

As always, the atmosphere was white hot. Predictably we were treated to the extended disco version of "2-0 and you ***** it up" by the home faithful. There are quite a few teams that can sing that to us nowadays! Meanwhile, a most amusing "Happy Golden Jubilee" banner was unfurled from the upper tier, along with an amusing rendition of "Champions League, never again." North London derbies are usually either completely sterile or exhilaratingly bonkers affairs with little in between. Since Redknapp took Spurs over and turned them into a more enterprising outfit, they tend to veer towards madcap more often than not. Within five minutes, we knew we were in for a rollercoaster. Abou Diaby- who has rather summed up his Arsenal career to date by playing three excellent games in a row before going off injured- won the ball from Tom Hundredstone, before releasing a pass to Song. Song quickly found Fabregas, who turned inside Modric before delivering a through ball for Theo Walcott, sending him racing away on goal before calmly slotting beyond Gomes. That was his 12th goal of the season.

But the lead only lasted 90 seconds, Corluka found van der Vaart, who had raced beyond Djourou and Diaby to fire inside Szczesny`s front post. But it took the Gunners only 5 minutes to reassert their lead when Nasri drifted in field and found Diaby, Diaby teed Nasri up who let fly from outside the box, firing low past Gomes for his first goal since 19th January and his fourth against Spurs this season. Is he following in the tradition of Pires and Adebayor of becoming Tottenham`s bĂȘte noir? The game rather settled down a bit, but still provided barnstorming end to end entertainment. Arsenal nearly asserted a two goal lead when Cesc found van Persie, whose flick once again sent Walcott careering into space, but his low shot flew agonisingly past the post. But the away side eventually did stretch their lead when Gallas miscontrolled Sagna`s cross, Walcott was alive to the ricochet and spooned a lovely cross into the box for van Persie, Gomes saved his initial header, but van Persie was on hand to smash the rebound into the roof of the net for 3-1. His 16th goal in 16 games now.

You rather had the impression that we needed to hold out until half time with the two goal lead intact. But there is obviously a confidence issue with holding onto leads at the moment because the periods in which we were the least assured seem to culminate from us scoring. Assou Ekotto`s cross was flicked on by Crouch; Cesc had the opportunity to get a good up and under on his clearance, but his connection with the ball was poor. His attempt went straight to Tom Hundredstone who hit a rather sweetly hit first time volley past Szczesny from the edge of the area. A quite sapping first half. When the teams came out for the second half, I remarked that I wasn`t sure I had the energy to watch, so one can only imagine what it was like to play in. Tottenham slowly began to assert themselves in the game as the half wore on; Modric played a deceptive reverse ball to van der Vaart, whose shot was tipped wide by Szczesny.

Arsenal were then denied a legitimate goal when Fabregas` raking pass split the Spurs defence and Gomes flapped van Persie`s volley into the net, only for an errant offside flag to go up. Though I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that Gomes might have made a better fist of the save had the whistle not long since gone. Tottenham had to push on, but Walcott`s pace always creates uncertainty in the opposing team and so it proved when Walcott received Wilshere`s pass, raced beyond Dawson but dithered with the cut back and instead sent a low cross which was too pacy for Fabregas on the back post. But just as Arsenal had begun to look comfortable, Spurs found an equaliser. Assou Ekotto`s slide rule pass cut the Gunners rearguard to ribbons, finding Lennon in behind Sagna, Szczesny made a rash decision to come out and took Lennon`s legs. Van der Vaart did not err from the spot.

From here it was anyone`s game with both sides showing an admirable proclivity to attack. It was like watching a bare knuckle boxing match at times; with two hardened fighters wearying, yet somehow finding the resources for one last desperate punch. Van der Vaart`s back heel sent Kaboul racing down the right, his low cross was met by Modric who looked to have scored but for Szczesny`s trailing leg. Szczesny saved well again from Crouch`s header. Meanwhile, Gomes tipped Fabregas` long range shot just round the post. Luka Modric then found substitute Sandro with another clever, deceptive reverse pass. Sandro moved inside Djourou all too easily, but Szczesny saved with his manhood. One save with his knackers and he injured Gareth Bale with his face. Hard as nails.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, with Arsenal having the better of the first half and Spurs shading the second. The first thing to say is that it was a fabulous match by two teams committed to playing the game in an attacking, stylish manner. A fantastic advert for the top flight in England. Spurs had 17 shots, Arsenal had 15. That says it all frankly. From our point of view, it`s telling how little surprise there is that we managed to chuck away another two goal lead. We have now lost seven points from two goal leads this season- which only Blackpool can trump. There is clearly a confidence issue because every time we take the lead at the moment, we explode like rat bags and panic ensues. It`s a vicious circle, it`s clearly an issue in the player`s minds, which makes them uptight and leads to them tossing the leads away. They need to relax, but it`s easier said than done. Ultimately, that probably does do us for the title race and now we are left to fight for second place. After the match, we had to run the usual gauntlet of hate outside, which the police did their best to stoke up by preventing Arsenal fans from crossing onto the High Road smoothly, leaving us a terrifying few seconds staring down the barrel of a few knuckle draggers. My next task is to rattle off a letter of complaint to the authorities for some of the most irresponsible policing I`ve ever seen. The positive is that the creative element of Arsenal`s game appeared to be alive and kicking with Fabregas looking fit and in gear again, but the panic needs to stop.LD.

53.SZCZESNY, 3.SAGNA, 20.DJOUROU, 6.KOSCIELNY, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 2,DIABY (19.Wilshere `53), 4.FABREGAS(c), 14.WALCOTT (52.Bendtner `81), 8.NASRI (23.Arshavin `81), 10.v.PERSIE. Unused; 13.Lehmann, 16.Ramsey, 18.Squillaci, 28.Gibbs.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday April 21 2011
Time: 4:40PM


@Sajit, @Londongunner and others who call themselves ARSENAL SUPPORTERS are a FAT JOKE. You are all arsenal admirers period. After yesterday games, which fans do you think has supported their team better? The Spurs did not win the game AT HOME but they have given their players a psychological advantage to go to next match thinking they are very good. On the other hand, Arsenal so call "supporters" and the media have now given their players the psychological battering that Bolton is now thinking they are better than us and will give us a good game after losing 5-0 to stoke. Guys, we were all disappointed, so the manager and the players for not wining yesterday's game but SUPPORT is the most essential thing needed that has been missing since febuary.
21/04/2011 16:54:00
was a great game to watch, wish i was a neutral then i would still have some finger nails left today. after the match i turned over to watch some more football cos i was gagging for some more high tempo beautiful football. barca vs real madrid " el classico " i was bored after 2 mins. not a stitch on the NLD lol
21/04/2011 16:54:00
If we can get the media and fans battering off, the psychological mechanism that is needed to overcome a pain or a loss will what this team needs. We are six points away from ManUtd, but it seems we are 16points apart psychologically. Since Carling cup loss, the wait of dissapointment of these players is so heavy and magnified that Westbrom, Sunderland, Blackburn all played us thinking they've got a shot. Sunderland has not won a game before and after they played us but they did not come to the game thinking we were better. The problem is not footballistic guys and in the head created by Carling cup loss-> British media-> Arsenal fans. Can we give them at least 2 weeks of praises in the media and by the fans and see if there will be changes in BELIEVE?
21/04/2011 17:03:00
i dont see why your fans are so upset either arseniger, i think you would have all taken the position you are in the leahue at the start of the season. you are not under achieving your still in with a shout of the title with 5 games to go. dont beleive the media hype just support the club
21/04/2011 17:05:00
*Typos everywhere. did not proof read, just posted
21/04/2011 17:05:00
I have very good QBs in NFL that were very good in college, on getting to the NFL become so bad that they never recovered especially the younger guys. Their first game usually comes with mistakes as expected and the opposing team are energised once they know you are young and new to the craft, but if you make look like a whimp by criticizing them, they never recover. If you make them feel good like Westbrom, Sunderland, Blackburn coming to play arsenal, they think they are a Top 4 team. Blackpool tried it but failed. Spurs are making a stride but the believe the british media, fans have given them like saying Bale is worth 80 pounds like Ronaldo, they are a top four team has helped tremenduously. Even Liverpool has gotten the psychological position over us but footballistically we are miles above them. We have 64 points, Liverpools has 49 but it feels as if they are better than us in the media before and after the game.
21/04/2011 17:17:00
Quality game! I just wish instead of drawing Spanish giants that we met in europe instead, it would have been electric! Next season maybe!
21/04/2011 17:20:00
The problems are not footballistic? Really? Thats funny because after the Barca home leg praise rained down on this team from all and sundry yet they still lost the Carling cup final. Go to Vital Chelsea and read some of the criticism that has come their way over the past few weeks and from the media (Laughing at Torres etc) has this stopped them putting a run of wins together? Seems you want to stop debates by calling people out for not being real fans Arseniger (What is a real fan anyway, can someone provide a check list for me). Without differing opinions these sites dont need to criticize people for their views.
21/04/2011 17:27:00
To answer your questions. 1) I said after the carling cup loss, they have suffered psychological problems not before. 2) When Chelsea was being criticized they kept losing point until Torres was used as a sacrificial lamp. They blame shifted to Torres and he is still suffering that but Drogba, wanting to prove that he is still the man, has started scoring, same as Kalou. Out of trying to out do Torres, they are playing better. Example is Djourou and Squillaci. When Squillaci started the season, he was ok but got injured and Djourou took over, he is not out playing Squillaci who is yet to recover from the bullets of arsenal fan. Same as the little teams coming to play us as if we are on the same level but of the psychological situation we are. A real fan will do what Spurs fan did at Real Madrid, after suffering 4-0 in the first leg, they were singing and praising the team before and after Crouch brain fart. Real fans will do what Portsmouth fans did in their last premier league season. Support even with bad mgt. Praise them when they are going thru the worse situation. A typical arsenal fan will be complaining. Wenger is crazy, Eboue is stupid, Clichy should be sold, Time to change, pump money to the team, Arshavin is the laziest player they've ever seen, RVP is an half season player, Cesc has outstayed his time at arsenal, buy, buy, buy. etc. I have had so much from our fans that even Villa, Everton fans will be glad to be in our position
21/04/2011 17:42:00
I truly hope we don't meet in Europe next year HY, not because I'm scared you understand, just that if this were to happen it would mean we haven't qualified from the CL group stage and have slid incongruously into the footballing meh of the Europah.
21/04/2011 17:44:00
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