In the end it wasn’t result we were all seeking for but on the reflection of it all, it’s a result which I can accept. I know there’s still a lot of resentment towards the outcome of the game from various fans and supporters. In a way, I can understand that notion as well. We drew after taking a 3-1 lead.
Let’s put things into context. Compared to the incompetent performances against Sunderland (PL), Blackburn (PL), WBA (PL), Liverpool (PL) and Manchester United (FA Cup); this was a much improved performance. Spurs are 5th in the league and have improved considerably under the management of serial tax evader, Harry Redknapp. This was never going to be a walkover by any stretch of the imagination.
As expected, Jack Wilshere was rested after his recent exertions with Abou Diaby filling in for him. Though that had to be reversed midway through the second half when Diaby hobbled off the pitch. Diaby had been playing rather well up to that point. Breaking play when necessary and providing the support to Alex Song when the opponent had the ball.
It has always been said that the Premier League is the most exciting league in the world and if the first half is any indication, it is. There were 5 goals in the first half alone, 3 of them coming in the first 12 minutes of the game. Like a knife through butter, Cesc Fabregas’ pass found Theo Walcott running the last line of Spurs’ defence. From then on, no one could catch up to him and it was a matter of whether our No 14 could put away the chance. That he did, smart finish curled beyond the reach of Gomes.
The lead lasted only 2 minutes as Rafael Van Der Vaart somehow managed to evade the attention of Laurent Kosielny and Vedran Corluka’s pass found the Dutchman. The shot was perfect and creeped in just inside the post. Wojciech Szczesny could’ve covered his near post better but the velocity and quickness of the shot meant it was harder to say than do.
Then came the goal of the game. Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas replicated the goal that they scored at Elland Road. Exchanging numerous passes between them, Nasri saw an opening at the edge of the box and just took a chance. It was another perfect strike which sent the ball nestling in the bottom of Gomes’ net.
After an eventful start to the match, the game settled down. At this point, the home side tried to utilize the supposedly best player in the world. The outcome was not what they were looking for. I saw something on Twitter that said Gareth Bale lost every single challenge he had to make. This is the player, almost everyone voted as the best in the league this season but he was owned Bacary Sagna. The Frenchman’s work sometimes go unnoticed. Remember Maicon? The player who couldn’t even put a finger on Bale.
Robin Van Persie added the third goal in the 40th minute mark after good work from Walcott. In that move alone, Walcott demonstrated that he had more footballing brain than some section in the media gave him credit for. Had we held on to the lead going into half time, the result might have been different but that was not to be.
Szczesny was fouled by Bale and the latter had to be stretchered off. Somehow the referee gave the throw in to Spurs and they scored from it. Another incompetent officiating cost us. This was an important moment of the game. I know we’ve thrown 2 goals leads before but every game is supposed to be different. Tom Huddlestone was the benefactor and he scored the game changing goal.
The second half cannot be compared to the first in terms of entertainment. It was almost as if 2 fighters traded blows for 6 rounds and were too tired to muster anything else and were just waiting for the bell to ring. That was how the second half was. RvP has had tough luck with the official this season. I can vividly remember the offside call at St James Park when it was 4-4 and the red card at Nou Camp. Again, he was called offside when video replay clearly show otherwise.
Szczesny had saved a couple of shots but was at fault for the leveller. Aaron Lennon found himself with space on the left after a raking ball. As no one was near enough to cover, the Pole had to rush out. Szczesny could just as easily stay on his feet but his decision to dive in cost us. Lennon went down and the penalty was given. VDV scored his second penalty of the game and his second penalty against us this season.
The draw is a fair result on reflection of the game. Now the title is probably too far stretch for us. At least, the players showed they care in this game. In any derby game, the passion to win is important. Now, let’s hope this continues for the rest of the season. The passion, not the result.