Notes on a North London Derby
If you weren’t distracted by Emmanuel Adebayor’s 8-bit haircut, there was actually quite a poor game of football being played at the Emirates on Saturday.
Amid the barnstorm, bluster and long-lasting joy of seeing Jack Wilshere getting kicked in the head by Ryan Mason, the standard set by the teams involved was fairly alarming. For two sides with ambitions to break rank and move up a level this season, on this evidence, neither look anywhere close.
Arsenal won’t bother City or Chelsea at the very top and Spurs are destined for another 5th/6th-ish finish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that you understand.
For Tottenham there were at least some encouraging signs of improvement. For the first time it might’ve dawned on the players that this high pressing stunt that’s all the rage at the moment, tends to work better when they’re engaged in something other than a light amble. Everyone but Adebayor appear to have got the message, who continues to do things in his own sweet time. God love ‘im.
The team press was effective and for the most part we were able stop Arsenal from gushing forth, and, when the mood struck, even managed to counter ourselves. Any advantage gained by winning the ball back in good areas, however, was negated by surrendering it again with a careless final ball or laughably feeble attempt at goal.
Nacer Chadli- although destined to atone for it ten minutes after the restart- encapsulated our wastefulness with a squirmed effort seconds before break.
There were others.
But, look, hey. This is a fixture that Spurs have approached from many different angles in modern times, and routinely come away bruised and penniless. Remember we were the form side in the country before the first of the 5-2 fiascos in 2012.
In such circumstances, coming off the back of a dungheap of a performance against WBA- a hard-fought, defensively robust 1-1 draw against Arsenal is a perfectly acceptable result. A good result, even.
There were numerous individual performances to admire. Hugo Lloris is one of the world’s greatest, but, then, you already knew that. I think it was Telegraph journalist Charlie Parrish, who remarked on Twitter that his appreciation of Hugo was similar to that of Gareth Bale in his final, superhuman season with us. The message was basically thus: try and enjoy each moment while you can, folks, because he won’t be here forever.
Elsewhere Pochettino is getting the best out of Danny Rose. One might’ve assumed that the signing of Ben Davies marked the end of Rose’s time at Spurs. But one bumper new contract and a extended run in the first-team later, and he looks a player transformed. Whatever Pochettino is telling him in training- presumably, shape-up or I’ll sell you to QPR– it’s doing wonders. Good on you, Daniel!