North London Derby: There Will Be Goals

Morning, campers. The news we’ve no choice but to file under Definitely Not Helpful is that of Moussa Dembele’s impending and continued absence. Now, we’ve only seen Germinal Beerschot’s finest export on a handful of occasions this season; it’s perhaps a rather worrying indictment of our situation that for every game that passes in which he’s not on the team-sheet, I want to stand fully-clothed under a shower and weep. Spurs were given a gift at the end of August, and far too soon after unwrapping and seeing what cool stuff it could do, it’s been taken from us. Oh ye footballing gods. Deliver us from Tom Huddlestone and I’ll be sure to sacrifice as many goats as ye see fit.

Arsenal aren’t without their own problems. After the miracle of Steve Bould Defensive Guru™ turning out to be just some rather unpleasant gastric wind, the Gooners look as ropey and indecisive as ever. Worse than us at times. Like Spurs they’ve had injuries to key men (For BAE and Kaboul read Sagna and Szczesny) and like us they’re perhaps having teething problems with the exuberance of youth (for Walker and Caulker read Jenkinson). Where they might not have expected the backline frailty to stem, however, is at the calamitous feet of one Thomas Vermaelen, who’s been terrible for some time now.

It’s not all bad for Mr. Wenger. In Santi Cazorla he’s got quite literally a super footballer, and thanks to the catastrophic money-haemorrhaging of his former employers, came at a nice, Eurozone-friendly price. He’s going to look dashing in a Man City shirt I’m quite sure.

Moving away from the NLD for a minute. Ever one for the well-timed bellyache, Didier Deschamps has been stamping his feet this week, like the petulant man-child he is. I’ll not bother with the quotes; they read much like the ones he made last time…and the time before that. Hugo Lloris isn’t getting the minutes and there’re plenty who think he should be- myself included- but sacre-bleuing yourself silly every time the boy’s benched isn’t helping. If anything it’s making a delicate situation worse. In short, Monsieur Water-Carrier, you need to make quiet your noise-hole and get H2Over it.

Now, the trifling matter of besting those rotten neighbours. A great deal, you’d imagine, will rest on the burly shoulders of Emmanuel Adebayor, who ought to start after last weekend’s all-action masterclass in lone-strikerism- and AVB has suggested as much. For an hour against City, he held the ball up well, ran the channels and bought others into play to good effect; three boxes the modern solo frontman is obliged to tick these days. Scoring goals: nice also. Trolling Zabaleta: all part of the service.

With significant absentees, there’s no denying that our midfield has a bit of the Diet Cokes about it, rather than the robust, full-fat version a Parker or Dembele might elevate us toward for a tricky away game such as this. Being on the lighter side of lightweight, then, Sandro is utterly vital. Key also, will be the chaps jogging alongside him in matching shirts. The Brazilian will pull up trees until team-time but he sure as heck can’t do it without friends. Whether it’s Huddlestone, Carroll or Sigurdsson in there: they’ve got to share the burden of putting Arsenal’s midfield through the meat grinder evenly.


There Will Be Goals.


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7 Responses to North London Derby: There Will Be Goals

  1. avatar charles says:

    Two seasons ago when Spurs played A.C.Milan in the C.L.i told my friends,no problem,Sandro will handle them all but yes it would be great if another two midfielders could have a blinder tomorrow.
    I can not understand why Spurs have so many injuries every year.Years ago the play was very robust and far less injuries……What are these players made of these days…chocolate??or it must be a paid holiday.

  2. avatar ruetheday says:

    Years ago, players played every match until they reached their late twenties and departed on crutches. Advances in sports science and physio mean we’re a little better at avoiding serious long-term damage caused by running players into the ground. Granted, it does seem we have an awful history of players picking up niggly injuries – Redknapp was a master at bringing players back too soon to succumb to the same (or similar) injury again and again, whereas AVB seems more prepared to listen to his staff and let players rest and recover before sending them once more unto the breach. For that, hurrah. It’s frustrating not having Moussa and BAE and Kaboul and Parker (and Lennon and Defoe – or is that the mind games?) available to wipe the floor with this week’s band of opposition miscreants, but better they miss ten-fifteen games in one go than twenty-thirty spread across the whole season, with a handful of tantalising cameos in between.

    This afternoon could easily go either way. We have two teams on a low ebb, plenty of proven potential but very little evidence of firing on all cylinders in the last few weeks. They could make us look daft, passing around our slightly-quicker-than-static midfield and through our patchwork defence, or equally we could outpace and out-power them all across the pitch. If both teams take note of their inability to defend in recent games, we could have either a ten-goal-thrilla as both sides aim to score one more, or a 0-0 bore-fest with the focus on oh-God-please-don’t-let-us-give-a-soft-one-away caution.

    Either way, I just want to see us play with a little more confidence and assertiveness. Too often of late, we’ve looked uncertain on the ball and nervous without it. It’s just another game today, but even AVB seems to understand what it means, so let’s just hope whoever he picks gets the message that it’s not a game for that’ll-do mediocrity. Crisp passing, urgent pressing and clinical finishing – sustain those three for the duration of the game and, whatever the result, we’ll hold our heads high on the way home. Daft mistakes, finger-point-posturing when attacks break down and lacklustre movement are not acceptable (I’d be tempted to sub the first person to give it away stupidly, whoever he is).

  3. avatar JimmyG2 says:

    It seems fairly obvious why Fulham allowed us to sign two of their ‘best’ players.
    Dempsey isn’t very good and Dembele has a long term injury.
    Our only hope is that as you almost correctly say they are slightly less…
    wha’ts the word?….’good’ than we are.
    Expect plenty of guts and energy and a lack of the more refined elements of the beautiful game.

    2-2 to Spurs unless Lloris plays, and he just might, then we could just edge it.
    Remember I’m not always wrong. Usually, but not always.

  4. avatar ruetheday says:

    Hm. Well, Dempsey didn’t look too bad, for a change. AVB made good changes but they came too late. Manu’s red card would be fair enough at any other time in an ordinary game, so I suppose Webb was well within his rights, but still felt a bit harsh in light of where it happened, how early it was, and the fact it’s the sodding North London Derby.

    MOTD edited out all the bits of us playing well at the start of each half, making us look a lot worse than we really were. Then again, that’s another match where (ignoring the numerical disadvantage) we couldn’t sustain our high line, hard pressing game. If we’d had the energy to keep pressing up to half time, we might’ve gone in on level terms and with a chance to take something from the game, but the two we conceded in those last few minutes of the first half were soft and sloppy, and more like stoppage-time-in-extra-time goals than end of the first half stuff. Either the players need some serious conditioning work, or we need a game plan that doesn’t leave them dead on their feet after half an hour.


  5. avatar houstonwegotaproblem says:

    Ades red likely cost us the game but not all teams concede 5 as a result of going to 10 men.

    If Redknapp was in charge he would be slaughtered but its AVB so “it’s complicated” 🙂

    Silver lining is at least the idea of playing 2 up top is ingrained in AVB so we can stop with the 2 DMs and a lone striker.

    Spurs just don’t play that way and he seems to have realised it after being howled at for taking off Defoe in the Wigan game.

  6. avatar ruetheday says:

    Thing is, I’d have been tempted to take Defoe off for Livermore at the start of the second half, kept the back four with a three man midfield shield (but probably move Vertonghen out to LB and bring on Daws for Naughton) and just left Bale and Lennon high as inverted wingers/inside forwards (so Bale right, Lennon left) – instruct the players to just punt it long into the channels for them to run onto. Of course, if AVB had done that, he’d have been slaughtered, but somehow he’s still getting a rollicking from ‘Arry name droppers like yourself, who are apparently pleased he kept two strikers and ‘Dared to Do’, but annoyed that we shipped five goals.

    What would you have done differently? The team he set out for the game was clearly ready to wipe the floor with them, but then the game turned on a rush of blood to the head and he was left with a nightmare scenario. As it was, he played the way so many of our gungho fans seem to want him to – against his nature – and now he gets it in the neck for suffering the not-entirely-unforeseeable consequence of leaving his flanks undefended in pursuit of a comeback. Our defence is wobbly, if not actually certifiably shit, due to injury-enforced chopping and changing, and our attack is tame due to Ade’s stop-start season, Defoe’s moodiness, and some yet-to-gel, possibly-rubbish signings.

    Seriously, the match was an enormous, galling disappointment, but what exactly could he have done to continue playing whichever way it is you think Spurs should play whilst not leaving us vulnerable?

  7. avatar houstonwegotaproblem says:

    As I said the red likely cost us the game. Lose a player after 15 and you probably lose the game 9 times out of 10. So the game was largely decided on that red whatever you do it don’t matter 9/10 times. The obvious call is to become more solid and defensive try to get to half time level to really reorganise. We conceded 3 in the half hour so the 1/10 chance to really do anything turned to almost zero. Sometimes life deals you a bad hand and you just do what you can with it.

    That is not AVBs fault. It is not even Ades fault really. Shit happens. Not everything can be fixed by a manager with a magic wand despite what you might have read over the past 4 years 🙂 People fuss about individual games and individual decisions and turning points every 5 minutes but it is nonsense. If you want to know how somebody is doing you look at an average 3 months that sort of timescale not every 5 minutes.

    So on my timescale the most notable positive thing about yesterday was that our formation was 442, it was attack rather than counter attack. It was AVB deciding lets have a shoot out at the emirates and 11 vs 11 we win that because we got better players. It signals more flexibility than previous games would suggest which is progress ie a silver lining from a bad day..

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