The final score reflected that of last season. The joy that proceeded after it, was probably the same for everyone on the red half of North London. Another 5-2 win, this time with 5 different scorers and 5 different assist makers. On a day like this, it shows that we are definitely a team that is not lacking in creativity nor are we reliant on any single player. Granted, the availability of every parts of the machine allowed the team to operate at it’s functional best.
We started with the best line-up that we got. Barring Kieran Gibbs, it would be hard to come up with a better starting 11 with the players that we’ve got. You could make a case for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Lukas Podolski but the argument could go either way. There was no reason that could be given, had we lost the game. No injured excuses because rarely any team get to field their squad best player in a single match. If we were to lose the game, it would only be because we didn’t turn up. Against, a very attack minded 4-4-2 line-up from André Villas-Boas, we almost did.
Tottenham came at us right from the get go. Emmanuel Adebayor coming deep and linking up with his midfielders well, while the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon used the maximum width of the pitch. 10 minutes in, we conceded and it had to be him. Adebayor pouncing on a Jermain Defoe’s shot which the returning Wojciech Szczesny blocked but fell right onto the path of the Togolese. The earlier ball over the top from Jan Vertonghen was the one that caught us out. Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna both lose sight of their opponent and that was poor.
Going a goal down seemed to spur (mind the pun) us on. Jack Wilshere becoming more and more instrumental in the game and was only a touch too strong on the pass to Theo Walcott after a clever turn that denied us what would have been a very good goal. As we were gaining a foothold in the game, we were given an advantage. The scorer of the first goal got himself sent off. No one to blame but himself. It was a ridiculously high challenge in a non threatening area, foolish is the only way to describe it. Adebayor must be still reeling from being snubbed by Bacary Sagna in the tunnel and wanted blood (Arsenal, please pay Sagna what he wants).
Almost immediately after the sending off, we got ourselves back into the game and it came via Per Mertesacker. Perfectly placed header, with the right amount of bend-power-precision that Hugo Lloris could not get his hand to. A deserved goal for the German’s contribution thus far this season and it’s always nice to see him get a moment of solitary adulation. We kept peppering at their goal and if not for the efforts of Lloris, we would have gone ahead sooner. It was coming but it was not before a couple of minutes before the end of the first half that we took the lead.
Intricate passing just outside of Tottenham’s box saw Podolski with the chance to shoot and the German didn’t need further invitation. The shot won’t be the cleanest he ever struck a ball but it didn’t matter. A deflection or two and it might even came off his standing foot, but it caught Lloris on the wrong foot and trickled into goal. Right before half time, we increased the lead when Santi Cazorla picked himself up from a foul and continued his progression into the penalty box before finding Olivier Giroud with a low cross. The Frenchman maintained his scoring run from the two previous games.
It was a bit more relaxed in the second half as we took our foot off the pedal. AVB changed his team around and went for 3-4-1-1. Tottenham probably had more of the ball but was well contained by us. That said, it was a dangerous game that we were playing. Another goal conceded and it would have been a very nervous final period of the match. Therefore, I was rather thankful that we step up again and found the fourth goal. Podolski this time, presenting the goal on a plate to Cazorla. It was strange not to see us exploiting the full size of the pitch to work their 9 outfielders to the ground.
The nervous period did come later on when Bale got on the scoresheet. Szczesny reacting probably a tad too late for me but the fault could also lie with the markers who gave Bale plenty of space to run into. Someone should have claimed responsibility and accepted a yellow card for a technical foul. At 4-2, I would be lying if I said that I was totally confident that we would not mess this up. We certainly had the capability to do that, even with the extra man on the pitch. Thankfully we didn’t as the energetic AOC came on to create the fifth goal for Walcott. The latter had been switched to the central striker role but had not seen the ball since he moved in field after AOC came on for Giroud.
Szczesny gave us a lot of scare with his decision to take his time with his kicking and when he did finally kicked it, the direction was sometimes aimless. That apart, I’m hard pressed to think of any other player that deserved criticism. Wilshere standing up to protect a team mate that got whacked was a very welcomed sight. Cazorla was at his buzzing best once again with Koscielny very solid at the back. Giroud provided the focus up front and never gave Vertonghen or William Gallas any time to rest. While Podolski didn’t do much (the goal and assist apart), he worked hard to press Kyle Walker back. Mikel Arteta? Set the bar very high for himself and lived up to it.
The other results from last night also went our way and it is now 9 points separating us from the top of the league? With 26 games left to go, I’ve seen stranger things happen in football. The legends were there yesterday and the team probably rubbed off from being in their presence. One thing that they could learn from these experienced individuals is that the fight is never over until the fat lady sings. Hopefully, this result will push the team on.
North London is Red.