Monday, March 4, 2013

Tottenham Hotspur 2 v Arsenal 1

Premier League Soccer
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal. Sunday 3 March 2013.

The north London derby at White Hart Lane is an important one this year: both teams are vying for a spot in next term's Champions League, for which the top four teams in the Premier League will qualify.

Currently Tottenham lie in fourth place and Arsenal in fifth. Spurs will be confident here at home as they currently have one of Europe's best players in the form of Welshman Gareth Bale; he is competing with Barcelona's Lionel Messi in terms of the number of Euro goals he has scored this season. They have finished below Arsenal in the league for the past 17 seasons.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is under pressure because of his stated aim at the beginning of the season of finishing in the top four by the end of it. His critics say that a big club like Arsenal should be aiming to win the Premier League. However, his club have a new stadium to pay for, and Champions League qualification is paramount.

It looks like Tottenham are planning to go with a 4-4-2 formation, with Arsenal having just the one forward in a 4-5-1.

Spurs kick off and work the ball to the right to make use of the speedy Lennon.

6' An exciting length-of-the-field run by Kyle Walker with the ball has the crowd on its feet, but it comes to naught and he has to run all the way back to his defensive position. 10' Spurs French goalkeeper Lloris, who has recently replaced U.S. fan-favorite Brad Friedel, makes a fine stop by rushing off his goal line.

16' Superstar Bale is finding little space between the Arsenal defensive back line and midfield. Just as AC Milan recently snuffed out the threat posed by Barcelona's Lionel Messi, by 'collapsing' 2 or 3 defenders on him as soon as he received the ball, Arsenal are doing to Bale.

20' Sigurdsson, on the left, plays an inswinging curling ball over the top of the Arsenal defense and Bale, untracked, just fails to make contact with it: a dangerous moment for the Arsenal defense.

26' A moment of rarity when we see Kyle Walker, Spurs' right-back appear in attack on the left wing! This is reminiscent of the 'total football' style of the Dutch national team of the 1970s.

36' The midfield stalemate is suddenly broken as, again from the left, Sigurdsson again feeds Bale, whose run has beaten the offside trap. He clips the ball expertly with the outside of his left foot past Arsenal keeper Szczesny. Good pass, great finish. 1 - 0. This is the fifth consecutive game in which he has scored, and a good example why teams like Real Madrid are interested in buying him.

38' Spurs' Parker, yet again from the left side of midfield, plays a similar ball in for the speedy Lennon. He takes a couple of touches to round Szczesny and finishes with aplomb. 2 - 0.

Two-nil at half-time looks a bit flattering to Tottenham, but the Arsenal defenders have neglected to track the Tottenham runners.

50' After good work by Arsenal's Welshman Ramsey, Arsenal win a free kick on the left. It is swung in and Arsenal's German giant Per Mertesacker leaps to head the ball, which comes off Bale's head and ends up in the Tottenham net. 2 – 1.

59' Bale's mixed game continues as he misses a cross from the left and he balloons the ball over the Arsenal goal from close in.

62' Arsenal bring on Czech player Rosicky, and his quick feet and first-time passing leads to one the prettiest passing sequences seen in the Premiership this season. 69' Despite having the lead, Spurs keep pressing and Sigurdsson surely must score, but he squares the ball instead of shooting.

88' Arsenal's Walcott - desperate to become the England national team's center-forward - takes a free kick that just misses the Tottenham goal.

93' Arsenal go close in a frenetic finish, but this exciting match ends.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Arsenal.

© Peter Rodd & Soccerphile 2013

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