Post Mortem of the North London Derby (Well, only from the Tottenham perspective)
Before I begin I must say that I am in an extended state of mourning and have vowed to take time off football. To make matters worse we are below Wet, er, West Ham and West Brom too (I guess it’s time to move up North).
Well, for starters we had lost our two previous league fixtures-an insipid outing against Wigan and an equally pathetic display against Man City(how we went into half time leading, Lord alone knows),not that Arsenal were faring any better, in fact they were below us. Small mercies.
End result: 5-2 to Arsenal.
Where did we go wrong?
We didn’t actually. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Last season’s 5-2 must have been pretty fresh in the minds of the wise heads of the Tottenham locker room and it showed by the way AVB lined up his team. Last season it was a 4-4-2, this time around it was 4-4-1-1.Not a big difference, eh?
Let me tell you that it altered the match in more ways than one.
The early exchanges saw Tottenham grab them Gooners by the scruff of the neck and give them a good run around. Clearly, lessons had been learnt from last season and the extra man in midfield-Adebayour- was giving his old employers a little pay-back. Dropping in deep, helping out the midfield pick up the pieces and build from there, he clearly looked in control and for a while I almost forgot (well, almost!) that we had a VDV who used to play in a similar position till last season for us. Then it happened, we scored, Ade scored. Tottenham 1 Arsenal 0.
Ade and Defoe could actually play together and all along I was dumb enough to think that the two would find it hard to co-exist, the reasons for which I do not remember at all. And then it happened, the moment when the balance of power chose Arsenal over us.
Ade lunged in like a mad man on Santi Carzola; I buried my face in my hands. Red card was shown and Ade walked off to a volley of derision from the Arsenal faithful. How could this have any bearing with the formation (4-4-1-1)? Well, if we had played a 4-4-2, Ade would have been strolling in the other half of the field far, make that very far from Cazorla. NO lunge, no foul, no red card. Tottenham stays on top (provided that by playing a 4-4-2, we would have ever been on top). Alas! Even when we do a right, something conspires against us to make it a wrong, this time it was one of our own.
Back to four men in the midfield and a man down and Defoe completely isolated from the rest of the team. We were asking for trouble and embarrassment. We got the trouble and despite the score-line, not the embarrassment. Probably the only area where AVB got it wrong in the match was to start with a fast deteriorating and ageing Gallas, okay, Huddlestone too. They shouldn’t have been on the pitch but they were. However, in the grand scheme of things, had Ade not lunged to his fall from grace this probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Anyway, AVB should have started with Dawson who has looked much more assured than Gallas and Carroll deserved a place ahead of Huddlestone.
Both Dawson and Carroll did make an appearance and they certainly performed better than the ones they replaced. Huddlestone was too slow in midfield, was prolific in losing his man and Arsenal ran him ragged, Even his passing which is usually so precise was off the mark and it was exasperating to watch him take corners.
Gallas had seen worse days this season and although this was his among his better outings it just wasn’t good enough.
I can’t really blame Naughton, can I? Yes, he was responsible for a few goals, was given a very forgettable time by Walcott but I really won’t blame him. I’ll blame it on the midweek friendly against Sweden. Why? Because it makes me feel good. Also, Caulker missed out because he picked up a slight niggle during that blessed game which was also his England debut (bless him!). With Caulker out and Kaboul already out, Vertonghen had to be moved to the CB position alongside Gallas. Yes, Vertonghen is a solid CB but he is equally adept at LB, such is his versatility. So, who plays at LB? Why, a RB, Naughton against a marauding Walcott. What happens? Naughton doesn’t have much of a clue.
Conclusion; Here is a RB who is playing the biggest game of his life so far against a pretty decent Arsenal side at their home ground as a LB ( and then we lose a man) to make matters worse for him.
Phew! I am glad that it’s over but even then we had quite a few positives to take from this game(small mercies again!). They are:
1. 4-4-1-1 is the way forward. Oh! I almost forgot; Ade’s red card is going to keep him out of the next three games. Big problem! Why? Because he is a damn fine player and is an essential requirement to make this system work. Now that he is off, we either have to sacrifice this system or play Dempsey or Sigurdsson which will render it less effective because both have brought their worst football to Tottenham. Only hope? Dembele, please come back soon.
Anyway, 4-4-1-1 is the way forward and we stick with it.
2. Tom Carroll. Promising lad, one for the future and if we continue like this, he may just become one for the present too.
3. Bale and Lennon. Enough said. Ok, not quite, Bale has been brilliant but we have seen him play better and he will, played a sparkling game against Arsenal.
4. AVB: He got it spot on with the tactics and his changes at half time were very encouraging and showed that he still wanted to get something out of this game. In AVB, I still trust!
5. Well, this is not directly related to the game but is important still. Imagine a situation when we have a full strength squad to choose from. In defence alone, we shall have Kaboul, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou Ekotto, Dawson, Walker, Caulker and Naughton to choose from. In midfield we shall have Parker, Dembele, Sandro, Huddlestone, Carroll, Bale, Lennon, Falque, etc. from which AVB needs to pick four men.
That is some serious depth but we have no depth when it comes to strikers. Period!
It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the Arsenal game may have been a blessing in disguise for us. How? Only time shall tell. This week is going to be very crucial for us – away to Lazio and then at home to West Ham and if we come out of this strong it may just set the tone for a revival.
Audere Est Facere!
Anyway, I am too gutted to dwell on the match any further.
P.S: Get behind AVB and I don’t hate Ade at all. I want to see him back soon and I want to see him pumping in the goals.