Analysis – Arsenal 5 Spurs 2


A moment of madness from Emmanuel Adebayor sparked a spectacular Tottenham collapse as Arsenal romped to a 5-2 victory in an entertaining north London derby at the Emirates Stadium.

Adebayor scored against his former employers to give Tottenham a 10th-minute lead, but he pressed the self-destruct button seven minutes later when he was given a straight red for a horrific sliding tackle on the excellent Santi Cazorla.

Tottenham struggled to cope with the numerical disadvantage thereafter and it only took a few minutes for Per Mertesacker to equalise.

…Arsenal’s victory means they jump above Tottenham in the table, while Spurs have now suffered four successive defeats under Andre Villas-Boas, who will have questions to answer about why he decided to play Adebayor if there were doubts about whether the striker could keep a lid on his emotions.

It was clear from the off that Adebayor was pumped up for the clash. After being snubbed by his former team-mates in the tunnel, he tussled aggressively with Jack Wilshere for the ball inside the first minute.

…Studs showing, the Spurs striker propelled himself in to a high tackle on the Spaniard, who was in mid-air and Howard Webb had no option but to send the player off.

…The inevitable equaliser came after 23 minutes. Walcott latched on to Wilshere’s ball and crossed for Mertesacker, who headed past Hugo Lloris after Huddlestone went missing in the box.

…The midfielder, recalled to the England squad this week, poked Mikel Arteta’s pass unwittingly in to the path of Podolski and his shot deflected off Gallas past Lloris.

Arsenal bagged their third in first-half injury time. Kyle Naughton knocked Cazorla down but he picked himself up and squared to Giroud, who beat Gallas to the ball and dispatched a close-range finish.

…Villas-Boas brought on Michael Dawson and Clint Dempsey and moved to 3-5-1, but the move made little impact as Arsenal remained in control.

…Lloris managed to keep the hosts out for 14 minutes before Arsenal hit on the break through Walcott and Podolski, who found Cazorla at the back post and he made no mistake from five yards.

…Bale then restored a bit of pride for the away side with 20 minutes to go when he outpaced Mertesacker and drove past Szczesny through Laurent Koscielny’s legs.

Read the entire report on ESPN Soccernet.

A derby of chaos and crisis – John Brewin

“…From the moment – straight from the kick-off – that Jack Wilshere tore into Adebayor, it was clear this would be no game of nicety. There would be no feeling each other out, no cautious prodding and poking, just blood and thunder from the start. Two cogent managers’ words of calm went unheard by players who set off like a pack of wolves. The fact that neither is capable of playing measured or tactical football cast the die yet deeper.

Such is both teams’ current vulnerability that either could have fallen apart. This time it was Tottenham. A season-long habit of conceding winning positions reached a nadir when Adebayor converted himself from scoring hero to disgraced zero and his team followed suit.

…But Spurs’ Togolese self-destruct button was swiftly pushed. He made a thoughtless lunge on Santi Cazorla. It was the type that commentators used to call a ‘forward’s tackle’ in days gone by. These days, it is known as a stupid and reckless tackle. It had the effect of boiling over simmering tension. Two youthful pearls of British football in Wilshere and Gareth Bale were to be found in a shoving match as referee Howard Webb gathered his thoughts before brandishing his red card.

Unlike Webb, Spurs gave themselves no time to regroup. Six minutes after the flashpoint, Mertesacker made up for his earlier error when Theo Walcott’s cross found him strolling into a Spurs area from which his height could do the rest. Hugo Lloris’ dive was acrobatic but he could not prevent the German equalising. “Adebayor, what’s the score?” asked the Arsenal fans. Same as last year was the eventual answer.

…Last season’s twin 5-2 win in this fixture was a foundation for Arsenal recovery and their claiming of third place. This season, at an earlier juncture, it will not be enough. Manchester’s giants and Chelsea are far superior but a win here and against Montpellier in midweek and Wenger will have arrested his latest crisis.

This time, the chaos and crisis are Tottenham’s. Andre Villas-Boas may take some convincing of that.”

Read the entire article – A Derby of Chaos and Crisis.

Tactical Analysis – Villas-Boas goes for two strikers, but loses Adebayor early on

…Upfront, he started Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor together for the first time in the Premier League, in a 4-4-2. There were three separate tactical battles here. Stage one was the opening formation battle, stage two was Spurs’ reaction to Adebayor’s dmissal, and stage three was when Villas-Boas switched to a 3-4-1-1ish formation at half-time.

…Using both Adebayor and Defoe gave Tottenham power and pace, and they lined up against the men most vulnerable to their attributes – which was crucial for Tottenham’s opener. Per Mertesacker is a good defender but his clearest weakness is his lack of pace, and Defoe outsprinted him to get in behind. Adebayor, who provided the finish, battled in the opening 20 minutes against Laurent Koscielny, who is much quicker than Mertesacker but lacks physicality.

This was shaping up to be a fascianting tactical battle. Spurs had numbers high up the pitch and two out-and-out wingers, but were conceding the centre of the pitch – in particular, the zone around Mikel Arteta. Defoe sometimes dropped deep onto him, but often the Spaniard had time and space in deep positions, and with Tottenham playing a high defensive line, Theo Walcott made some good runs in behind the defence, which seemed a likely route to goal – Arteta generally directed play to the right.

11 v 10

…However, the decision to continue pressing in midfield was tiring physically and mentally for Tottenham, and as Villas-Boas acknowledged after the match, it was the final ten minutes of the first half that cost his side.

Arsenal’s route back into the game was based around width and crossing, with Mertesacker heading in the opener and Giroud having a fine chance from a similar right-wing cross. Arsenal played predominantly down that flank, with Walcott heavily involved and Bacary Sagna skipping forward more readily than Vermaelen on the left. The goals arrived as a result of continual pressure rather than any specific strategic move, and Arsenal were 3-1 up at the break.

3 at the back

Usually with a 3-4-1-1, a side would be vulnerable to the opposition full-backs having too much time on the ball – but with Bale and Lennon so high up, instead Spurs’s vulnerability down the flanks came in deeper positions. Cazorla was predictably the man to understand where the space was, and drifted towards the touchlines to enjoy time on the ball.

Arsenal’s fourth goal was a perfect example of where Tottenham were weak with their second half system – the final pass (from Lukas Podolski to Cazorla) was played from the space outside Gallas, all the way across to the space outside Vertonghen. That was the risk Villas-Boas took, and although Spurs ended up losing the game 5-2 (and the second half 2-1), there was some merit in the formation switch.

Read the entire tactical report on the Zonal Marking website.

Fans View – Blog Report

Arsenal – Arseblog

Red card? Oh well, I still get paid enough to have my customised Bentley (not David) in which to drive around my entourage who tell me how awesome I am. Lost the game? Meh, there’s another one next week. Or something. I’m suspended? Hurrah, more time for parties and dancing!

But here, and in every Arsenal supporting household this morning, the people who do give a shit will be enjoying Adebayor’s superficial troubles, even if he doesn’t care himself. A former player coming back to score against us isn’t uncommon, a fact of footballing life, but a former player, who raises the ire like few before him, opening the scoring then getting himself sent off and letting us back into the game, well … it’s delightful really.

…You might speculate all you want about what would have happened if it had stayed 11 v 11, but it doesn’t matter. It didn’t stay 11 v 11. A Sp*rs team that had started brightly, had one disallowed before going ahead, and nearly went 2-0 up before Adebayor’s delicious red card, were blitzed by an Arsenal side who felt, rightly, that the momentum had changed.

…And let’s be honest, there was some nervousness when ape boy scored. The glee was turned down a notch and if ape boy wasn’t such a glory-hunting dimwit, he could have easily squared for Defoe to make it 4-3, but he’s a glory-hunting dimwit and Jack Wilshere doesn’t like him and if Jack doesn’t like him that’s good enough for me.

But after that Arsenal controlled it fully. Sensible football, keeping possession for long periods and running down the clock well. Sp*rs were beaten, we knew they beaten, everybody knew they were beaten. Apart from their manager who was clearly watching the match in a different universe because according to him they controlled the game from the first minute to the last.

Read Arsenal 5 – Sp*rs 2: That was fun.

Spurs View – ESPN Blog

1. A player can be too hyped up (Adebayor)

2. AVB can do positive (starting with 2 upfront; switching to 3 at the back)

3. Gallas has to be dropped.

4. Lloris has served his apprenticeship.

5. It is possible to dislike Sol Campbell more than I already do.

Read the blog by Dan Fitch.

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