After such a good week for Spurs, we should have all expected this, as they didn’t turn up for the North London Derby.
The first half was panning out like the game against Man United. Spurs hadn’t turned up, while the hosts were all over them only for the hosts to find themselves behind. A smash and grab job.
It was different in that the hosts took the lead and like so many goals Spurs have conceded this season it was self inflicted. Why Jan Vertonghen decided to handle the ball, only Jan will know. It really didn’t look that dangerous a position at the time if he’d left it well alone with his hand. Though Hugo has saved penalties for Spurs, it always feels like you’ve never seen him do it for his club. The free-kick that led to the penalty was also a piece of foot shooting, both feet, from Aurier, giving the ball away then conceding the foul.
The great debate, before, during and after the game was the benching of Alderweireld, for either Foyth or Jan. I can see why Pochettino did it, in the previous 20 games Spurs have played so far this season, Toby has started 17, playing the full 90 minutes in all of them bar one, where he came off with just 9 minutes to go. People that complain about the manager flogging the players to death, complain about him rotating the players.
The lead lasted twenty minutes when Son was fouled, not for the first time and not for the last, after latching onto a decent forward ball by Sissoko. From the Eriksen free-kick, Dier glanced the ball through the keeper’s hands at the near post. A classic Van der Vaart shhh celebration from Eric and the Arsenal kiddies spit their dummy. Dier didn’t leave the field of play, it was the subs that started the argy-bargy, yet it’s Dier that is carded. Remember Arsenal players are allowed to run the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of opposing supporters.
A few minutes later and nice hold up play by Kane saw him back-heel it to the rampaging Son, into the box and cutting back the defender lunges in. Looked like a penalty, suppose it depends which side you’re on. Strangely old Keith Hackett who pops up weekly to claim Spurs got away with things and still seems to have a bias against them – carrying on from his inept performance as ref in the 1979 FA Cup Quarter-Final – says it was a penalty whether the player made contact or not. He of course missed Foyth being manhandled at a corner, was it by Mustafi, that should have been another spot-kick. Or indeed the number of fouls by the likes of Mustafi that should have seen second yellows.
Harry duly despatched the spot kick. It looked a bit Spursy from them.
They made changes at half-time. Pochettino didn’t react to the new line-up, though they started the second half the better, with some chances missed. Then ten minutes in and one ball cut through the whole of the Spurs team, one layoff and then one shot later and it was two all. From then on it was all them. Spurs just hanging on for dear life.
It didn’t work.
Foyth lingered on the ball, then in what seemed like slow motion they went ahead with a deflection off Dier’s shin. Yes, you can’t have a go at Luiz for turning his back and not say Dier did it as well. It wasn’t quite so blatant but I want more commitment to getting anything in front of that shot to stop it heading goalwards than that. Yes Foyth has made mistakes, since the two pens against Wolves, so has Toby. The latter’s inclusion is no guarantee of perfection. He’s been in Spurs sides that haven’t turned up and put this kind of performance in before.
The fourth, a few minutes later, really didn’t matter it was all over before that. More weak defending. And then Pochettino made some changes. He’d already moved Dier into a back three, formation shift, which didn’t work. He then brought on Winks and Moura for Son and Dele, which were headscratchers.
Just time for Jan to get his second yellow, he wins the ball I don’t see where he’s supposed to put his foot when someone steps in front of him. Toby will definitely be playing in the next game then.
They played the best they have all season. Spurs didn’t turn up, it was almost exactly a year ago the same game and the same performance or the lack thereof from Spurs, yet things turned out OK in the end. The way some are banging on about this ARSEnal under the new manager you’d think they were the best Woolwich side ever. Well however good they are they’re level on points with a Spurs side that’s barely got out of first gear all season.