Tag Archives: Harry Kane

THE TWIST AND TURNS OF THE 186TH NORTH LONDON DERBY: ARSENAL’S REVIVAL, SPURS UNDOING

Hands up, beautiful people, if like me you thought Arsenal would lose this game!

I mean we were 2-0 down as we neared the end of the first half. I know this is football, and anything can happen, but, remember this is Arsenal, and overturning a lead of two or more goals in just one half has not always been our strong suit.

What I am trying to say is that we are not wonder-kids like the Manchester United of old, who would go down in the first half by multiple goals, but come back blazing in the second half, overturn the goal difference and actually win the game.

The game ended in a draw much to our relief. But, was it because of our fighting spirit or did Tottenham, out of hubris, fail to do enough to cling to their lead?

I think it was a mix of both, plus a little bit of luck for the Gunners.

Tottenham was initially out to win this game. They looked in-form, focused, and driven to get the maximum points, hence the two goals they were able to produce in the first half of their match against the Gunners.

Their display in the first half did not have a semblance of the broken spirit that has marked Spurs’ rocky start to the season.

Before last week’s London derby, they had only managed one win this season against Aston Villa, a draw against Manchester City, and a shocking loss to Newcastle. They were not looking like the title contenders that they normally look at this stage of the season.

Even their coach was not looking too happy during the first three games, to a point people were now comparing him to the ever-grumpy Mourinho when he was at the helm of Manchester United.

But, that all seemed to change in the first half of that Arsenal game.

  • There was pace and urgency on the counter

The Spurs’ counter was lethal in that first half in terms of pace, passing, and making shots on target.

Their very first counter-attack of the first half came in the 10th minute, and it resulted in a goal by Ericksen.

The pressure did not stop there as Leno had to produce two fine saves shortly after, from both Eriksen and Son, as Spurs continued to run riot on the counter.

  • Their connections were better

One major complaint against Spurs by their manager after that disastrous 1-0 loss to Newcastle was that his players were not connecting right, which means fewer chances were being created.

In their next match, in the first half at least, they sought to improve that. For instance, the build-up saw an excellent pass from Son to Lamela as the counter gained momentum. Lamela shot towards goal with just the right amount of power to have Leno spill the ball, right into the path of the menacing Christensen. All the latter had to do was simply tap the ball in, and voila, an early lead for the visitors.

Numerous well-executed connections followed after that, but, none as successful as that first one.

  • Their defense was awake

In that first half, Danny Rose was looking impossible to get past. Just ask Pepe, who try as he could, was not able to get anything past him.

This was definitely a more alert Rose than his display against Newcastle in the previous match.

Yes, I know he did get a yellow card, but it was all in the line of duty!

  • They took advantage of the opponent’s blunders

When our team blundered, Spurs milked it for all its worth. That first goal was a poor display of what is supposed to be ‘premier defending’ by our backline, and I am sure Leno could have done much more from keeping that ball from going in.

Leno would have also been caught off-guard in the 36th’ yet again when he let the save from Kane‘s 25yard shot spill back into Son’s path. Terrible, terrible, just terrible! The same mistake that led to the first goal.

The second for Spurs was as a result of Xhaka’s outrageous challenge on Son within the penalty area. When will Xhaka learn? When?

 

Lucky for us, Lacazette and Pepe were working their behinds off at the other end of the pitch. These two engineered our comeback into the game with Lacazette taking Pepe’s pass, creatively flooring Vertonghen, and shooting one past Lloris.

We definitely didn’t see that coming.

From that goal, into the second half, a new, inspired, rejuvenated Arsenal emerged. Here’s what we did right, and the Spurs did wrong in that second half:

  • We pushed hard, and Tottenham let us do it

From the very start of the second half, we pushed…hard! One minute into the second half, and Laca was already threatening goal after latching onto a cross from Maitland-Niles.

Lloris did well to save that one, but two minutes later, he gave Aubamayeng a clear chance to score, were it not for a last-ditch effort of a challenge on our last season’s top scorer by one of the Spurs’ defenders.

The action did not stop there as we saw Lacazette, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, and Aubameyeng, relentlessly picking up the ball, and shooting it towards goal. Lloris was having an incredibly tough time trying to keep it together under all of this pressure.

Tottenham’s attempt at playing from the back was going horrendously wrong, and this had to be the liveliest of performances I have seen from our attack this season.

We were all over Tottenham in that second half, and one could barely breathe with all of the activity going on in the Spurs half for those 45+ minutes.

  • Leno was more alert

Finally, this man’s head was in the game. But, yes, he had a little help from the post as one of Kane’s attempt in the 59th was bound to be a goal, and there would be nothing our goalkeeper could do about it.

  • Guendouzi was brilliant

Enough said! This young maestro is the glue that holds our midfield together. I wish Xhaka could learn a thing or two from this youngster. His game was so good last Saturday that he has been called up to the France national squad in preparation for the Euro 2020.

  • Our passing at the front was glorious

…leaving Tottenham’s defense completely outclassed.

Guendouzi’s magnificent cross into the box in the 70th minute, leaves defenders scrambling, and Aubamayeng is right there to deliver an inspired poke into the opponent’s net.

Kolasinac, Sokratis, Auba, Mikhi, and Pepe were going ham at the opponent’s defense, out-maneuvering them with impressive passes, crosses, and shots towards goal.

 

So exciting! What an exhilarating half! What a time to be a living, breathing, Arsenal fan.

But, as usual, we did make a few mistakes in that second half as well.

  • Xhaka is a problem child

That yellow he received in the dying minutes of the game just continues to prove how much of a burden this midfielder is shaping up to be.

Yes, his indiscipline on the pitch is giving Arsenal issues.

Yes, Guendouzi is a much better midfielder.

Yes, it is in our freaking best interest to sell him even to the lowest bidder.

I foresee him costing us dearly this season, just like the last one. Let’s just hope Emery gives him less playing time for the sake of our collective sanity.

  • Sokratis loses his head under pressure

Sokratis does not work well under intense pressure, and his challenge against Winks and Kane in the late minutes of the game would have undone all of the work that Laca, Pepe, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Auba, and Leno had done to keep us in this game.

In future games, I would prefer him to be subbed the minute the game goes into high tempo, otherwise, we are looking at laughable defeats over the next few months.

 

It’s Arsenal vs Watford next Sunday, while Tottenham is up against Crystal Palace. Let’s just wait and see who gets to drop points next week.

Tigoi na wega!

 

The 186th North London Derby_ Arsenal's Revival; Spurs Undoing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus:

 

Here’s a video I made on Mourinho’s grumpiness last season:

 

 

WILL TOTTENHAM EVER STOP SHOCKING ME?

Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Who saw Tottenham’s performance on Tuesday night coming? Who? Certainly not me! I spent an entire blog post belittling Spurs before their match against Arsenal last weekend, AND their Champions League match against Juventus this week (you can catch that post here). Little did I know how truly resilient Spurs can be.

I had to eat my own words after they completely outclassed Arsenal on Saturday, and now, I have to do the same thing again after their breathtaking performance on Tuesday night. Before this game, even before the week began, I was so sure that Spurs had no chance against the Italian side. On such a big stage? Pshhhh! There was no way they were going to hack it (I have to admit that some of the negativity stemmed from them beating us on Saturday). Boy, was I wrong! And, boy, was I glad to be so wrong.

For me, the match was not only entertaining, dramatic, and full-blown intellectual (the way Spurs was passing that ball was just incredible), it showed a different class to Tottenham. These boys are poised, organized, confident, mature even, and all this is evident in that amazing comeback from 2 goals down to a draw. This has not happened at the Juve Stadium since 2011, and for Tottenham (of all the teams) to be able to do that was just mind-blowing!

When Higuain scored the first goal (in the 2nd minute, mind you), I was like ‘Here comes the bloodbath!’, and then he scored the second goal, and for me, that game was over before Spurs could even blink. Two goals in less than 10 minutes of the first half of the first leg of the knockout stage of the Champions League, Tottenham was clearly way out of its depth here! To make it worse, they are the underdogs, they have less experience compared to Juventus across all competitions, Juventus have Buffon who is a matchmaker on his own, and Juve’s defense (BBC) was until most recently considered unbeatable, absolutely impenetrable! Talk about having all the odds stacked against Tottenham.

And yet, Spurs continued to play their hearts out. They kept attacking and they kept coming, and Juventus kept making mistakes. Higuain had two amazing opportunities to widen the score in the first half, one of them being a penalty that he missed right before halftime. Can you believe that? He and Mandzukic also missed seemingly straightforward goals in the early minutes of the second half. What were they thinking?

A special shout out to Kane for being so unafraid in front of goal. Did you see his goal? Did you see how he drew Buffon in, then darted from him, leaving the veteran goalkeeper completely floored, and then striking the ball into the net with his left foot? He did it so unassumingly, you wouldn’t believe that he had just done that to THE Gianluigi Buffon! I mean the cheek of it all!

That goal was special; that goal was the first goal that Juventus have conceded in 2018! That goal, along with the Eriksen one, could shove Buffon into retirement, people! There are already calls for the legendary goalkeeper to pack up his gloves and leave after his ‘not so good’ performance against Tottenham on Tuesday.

Personally, I do not think Buffon was solely to blame for the calamity that befell Juve this Tuesday. Tottenham ARE that good, and it was wrong for so many of us (I’m pointing at myself here) to under-estimate them!

And the beauty of this match was how every Tottenham player contributed immensely to that successful comeback. I’m talking about the likes of Dembele, who hands down, controlled that mid-field and single-handedly set the tempo for that entire game. He made incredible passes forward, he stole the ball, he dribbled, he tackled, he created chances, restarting lost ones, and he linked well with the others. He..was..UNSTOPPABLE!

Dele Alli was also quite impressive, mainly because he was absolutely instrumental in both goals. His possession was not as clear-cut as fans would have hoped, but, for me, he showed a bit more maturity than usual (in other words, I’m glad I’m not spending my post-Valentine’s day calling him out on his diving antics again).

The Spurs’ defense was a bit shaky from the start, but I liked how Sanchez continued to remain calm even with all the pressure. I feel like Tottenham fans are making too much unnecessary noise about Sanchez here. He’s been good so far, give the boy a chance (as I secretly hope he is your weak link and causes you to tumble out of the running for the top four spot in the EPL #COYG)!

One Tottenham player who will not be happy with his performance on Tuesday night is Serge Aurier. It was just a bad night for him, although, it is turning out to be a series of bad nights for him. Free loan transfer, anyone?

But that was a beautiful game, a wonderful show of sportsmanship, and I CANNOT WAIT for the return leg. It is going to be absolutely awesome, and I cannot believe that I am saying this, but I really hope Tottenham go through. Chances are they will, but this is football, and I know Juve will put up a strong fight! Good luck to both teams!!

What did you love about the TottenhamVsJuventus game? Leave your comments below and you can also follow me here, here, here, and here!