Arsenal 2-0 Sp*rs: Brilliant back three provide platform for delicious victory

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There are mornings when the prospect of writing a blog about Arsenal is not the most enjoyable thing you can think of. I think it’s fair to say that this morning is not one of those mornings.

All the talk pre-game was of how good Sp*rs are, how their manager is super cool and groovy, and how Dele Alli and Harry Kane were the best thing to ever happen to football in England except for England when they cried off with fake injuries so they could be fresh and ready for the North London derby. How did that work out for you chaps?

I have to admit that one of the best things about yesterday, result and impressive Arsenal performance aside, was the fact that both of them did precisely nothing of note during the game and when they were hauled off with 15 minutes to go they reminded me of wet dogs. You know you see a dog with all his fur and he’s an impressive looking beast? Watching him making his way out of a lake, bedraggled and soaked to the skin, he doesn’t make quite the same impression, and that was Kane and Alli yesterday.

I actually feel a bit bad about that comparison because dogs are awesome and I wouldn’t take either of those wankpots for a walk if they were the last companions on earth, but you know what I mean.

The thing is that we kept them quiet, so very, very quiet. I know much has been made of the performance of Mesut Ozil and that’s something I understand because he had an outstanding game, but for me the heroes of yesterday were the back three. If we rejoice in the fact that Sp*rs were not a threat, it’s down to the way we defended, and as a unit they were superb.

Laurent Koscielny got his head or foot to everything; Nacho Monreal remains the most underrated player in the Premier League and put in another no-nonsense, quietly brilliant display; while the recalled Shkodran Mustafi was my man of the match. I’ve had some issues with him in the past, but consider my cap well and truly doffed this morning. Not only did he make 14 clearances, lots of tackles, and spend most of the game up Kane’s arse, he provided a fantastic defensive moment when he used his powers of sliding for good, blocking a shot by the striker when it opened up for him in the box.

What we did further forward was excellent, but it was all built off the platform of the defence, ably assisted by the wing-backs and the midfield. Petr Cech had little to do but when called into action he produced a phenomenal save from an Eric Dier header to ensure we kept our two goal lead and a clean sheet.

So, our goals. I hear them crying over the first. Boo hoo, and hahaha, is what I have to say. There was an earlier incident when the referee gave them a free kick for very little and it would have seen Ozil set-up Lacazette for a tap-in, and perhaps there wasn’t much in the Sanchez on Sanchez foul but despite having 15 years of writing this website under my belt, I don’t have the words to explain how little of a shit I give that the decision was a bit soft.

However much of a shit you think I give about that, triple it and add four hundred bazillion on top for the suggestion that Mustafi was offside when he planted a brilliant header in off the post. Having seen us suffer at Man City because of a terrible decision, and lose at Stoke when Lacazette’s goal was ruled out because he had pube ahead of the last defender or something, it’s very much a case of what goes around comes around. Suck it up.

Before they even had the chance to consider how they were going to cry to their friends in the media about how unfair life was, we scored again. Bellerin set Lacazette behind the defence – again a suggestion of offside and again I would ask you to think of a number larger than infinity to represent my shit giving – he crossed it for Alexis who took a couple of touches and blasted into the net above Lloris who was demonstrating his incredible powers of falling backwards for no reason.

It meant a 2-0 lead at half-time, and I recall being at a derby a few years back when we had the same scoreline at the break and then had a second half nightmare in which Younes Kaboul scored and they went on to win and that was very unpleasant indeed. I hope they remembered that though, clinging to it like some kind of lifeline, because there was to be no repeat.

We worked hard, defended well, and I think we had the best chances to score again. Lloris made some saves, we missed some chances, we let them have the ball and counter-attacked well at times, but the removal of Kane and Alli was basically a white flag and it spoke volumes about the way we played.

There’s no doubt we deserved the three points, and for me the fact we had a stable platform to play our attacking football was key. Ozil was absolutely brilliant, playing like a man with a point to prove, and there’s a lot to like about him winning the ball back on the edge of our box and setting off on a blistering counter which he almost finished off, but the security provided by Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal played a massive part.

Afterwards, Arsene Wenger said:

I think we played with purpose, good concentration, the desire to always be efficient and with great solidarity. From the first to last minute the quality of our concentration was very high, we never had a minute where we felt that we dropped a little bit of our focus. Overall it was a very intense game when you look at the physical performance of the two teams. It’s absolutely through the roof, so that means the with the distances the players produced, it was an immense performance on both sides.

We could sit here this morning and ask ‘Why don’t we see that every week?’, and I get it. If this is what these players are capable of against a team like Sp*rs it’s what they should be capable of in every game. That kind of effort and concentration would mean more points on the board, no question, but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written the ‘This should be the blueprint’ post on this website.

It’s so blindingly obvious that I don’t want to go there this morning. I just want to enjoy the fact we won yesterday, and won so well. Enjoy the fact the gap between rubbish old us and brilliant exciting Sp*rs is now just one point. And enjoy a derby win for the first time since 2014.

I hope that these players take as much from the game as they should. It ought to remind them what they can do, provide them with a boost in confidence and belief, and show them that if they stay focused and organised and work hard for 90 minutes, they can win difficult games.

As I said a few weeks back, we need to basically ignore Man City as they romp towards the title, and look at what’s going on around us. Yesterday was evidence that our team is good enough to compete with the others aiming to finish top four, and hopefully we’ll see more of that – not least because we face Man Utd later this month.

Before that, however, we have the obstacle of two away games – and our record on the road this season needs to be corrected. Going into those games on the back of this win is far preferable than fire-fighting another big game defeat. If we can do what we do at home, there’s no reason why we can’t do it away.

For now though, I’m going to download the game. I’m gonna watch bits of again, and I’m going to love it as much as I loved it yesterday. Have a great Sunday, back tomorrow with more and, of course, an Arsecast Extra on what is definitely going to be a goodly morning.

57 COMMENTS

    • I like this bit.

      “it’s very much a case of what goes around comes around. Suck it up.”

      After all the unfair decisions againts us, the karma decided to run its due course during the spu*s game. An arsenal fan also, maybe.

    • Blogs, my kids tell me the proper way to describe Kane and Alli in modern times is “Cockwombles” – but they do like “wankpots” as well

      • Great Pretenders

        Pale shadows of us right down to their colourless kit

        Pretty much stuck in the Black and White era which was the last time they won the title (1961…over half a century ago)…but hey the pundits think they have a better chance at it then us for some reason.

        Worth noting also the retinue of genius managers who have come and gone at that club since Wenger took over at ours and they’ve only managed to finish above us once with the (suddenly) much lauded fourth place pot…not that we didn’t win an FA cup that year.

        😀

  1. Let’s take a quick look at the North London Power forecast. Power was expected to shift by Saturday afternoon but it looks like an area of high pressure developed in the Tottenham half and Power remained stable for the rest of the week.

  2. Can we also get some praise for the manager for getting his tactics and team selection spot on. We give him a hard time when he gets it wrong so only fair to give kudos when he gets it right

  3. I’ve followed arseblog for a long time and while the writing appeals to me, more than anything I think its the values blogger represents that appeal to me the most. Fair for the most part and obviously a passionate fan. What I don’t understand now is that blogger is becoming a little one sided. When we lose he points it all on the manager – ”isn’t it the job of the manager to get the team prepared?” or ”nacho switched off and that’s on the manager to make sure they play to the whistle”. When we win, nothing about how the manager motivated his guy for a big game.
    ”Nacho the most underrated defender in the game” – not – wenger set his team up well and prepared them well. I don’t know. Losing a little bit of faith in andrew.

    • I am sure you can get a refund. Plenty of Chelski sites for you to view.

      Also, weird that Atlantic Breeze was pre-populated in the name section. You should all know that this is, and always will be Kung Fu Grip.

    • Exactly. Not a single word about Arsène anywhere. If it were even a draft at home, Andrew would be up diligently pointing fingers at Wenger’s contract and the Özil and Sanchez situation. No credit to Wengz for how Sanchez played yesterday despite all the tabloids saying he’s not playing for the manager anymore.

      I imagine after years and years of hope and faith, the tide may have begun to turn for Arseblog here. Might also be influenced lately by the atmosphere of extremism. With other platforms getting larger and larger, the only way to keep up is to shift ever so slightly towards the centre of the extremes so that you have some ground covered to the extremists?

      Just thinking out loud here. Love reading everything written here personally. Free at that.

      • I think the last thing you could ever accuse me of is extremism. I have no desire to keep up with anyone else, and I’ll I’ve ever done is be honest. I’m critical when I need to be, and I’m happy to praise too.

        Also, having read a blog which is celebrating a great win and performance and you’re annoyed I didn’t give Arsene a pat on the head, your priorities might be a little askew.

        • Its one of the best blogs bc blogs is inclusive of all opinions.

          I think this article is striving more to highlight that we got the defensive side of things right.

          In large parts, the gaffer and staff got the planning right and had the team press in unison as a unit but it also helped to have Mustafi back and making up for lost time so a bit of everything.

          Ponch punched himself in his own gut trying to switch to 3 at the back to compete with us directly.

          He’s a good manager Ponchentinno and respectful but our clueless manager got one over him.

          I get the point because you won’t hear any of this in the mainstream press who would deflect to save their blushes.

    • This is a silly criticism you make… it IS up to the manager to make sure there is no lapse in concentration, what is wrong with that? it’s Andrew’s analysis of the game. And to suggest he is being overly-negative is ridiculous as Andrew is one of the few positive Arsenal bloggers/podcasts out there left and only one i listen to for that reason, and he is able to criticize when required such as then.

      He makes it obvious in his blogpost here that he just wants to enjoy the win over Spurs…as do we all…why can’t you let him/us?

  4. I wasn’t expecting a performance like that I was hoping for it and yes we can and should play with that intensity far more often! I too took great pleasure in the faces of mentally challenged Kane and Chip shop Ali as they trudged beaten off of the pitch! The after match punditry was as i expected patronising and double edged but who cares ? Great to humble the upstarts would have loved to have seen a few more chances taken and a more commanding scoreline but hey so what we beat the scum from Middlesex and upset the likes of Sky and Gary Lineker ! Bring on Burnley and let’s see if we can stuff another media darling !

    • I think we also have to be careful to not fall into the trap in thinking this is the entire blueprint for success from now.

      It is indeed a good prescription for success to press and do the off ball things as a unit.

      But the front 3 selection may not suit against all opponents.

      Against more expansive opponents who are willing to go toe to toe either because they feel they are superior (spurts) or that’s just their ethos, we enjoy the benfit of mobility of the front 3 in Lacazette, Ozil and Alexis.

      But there are also going to be those games which we will face more often than not opponents willing to cede territory stay compact and choke us out.

      In those games, there may be reason to use the benefits of a more muscular presence in Giroud where mobility isn’t necessarily as much of an issue more hold up play and front point distribution.

      Lacazette and Giroud (or Welbeck) isn’t necessarily a case of who is better rather which tool fits the current problem in hand.

      The tool has to fit the job.

      That’s the whole point of having a diverse striking line up.

  5. I was so impressed with Mustafi. Hopefully this game can be something of a turning point for his Arsenal career because if he defends like that every week it makes the future of that defence look a lot brighter. I get what Wenger says about technical quality not “passion” being the most important thing but every time Mustafi threw himself in front of a Spurs shot it just seemed to life the whole place. Brilliant performance.

    • I never under stood the criticism thrown at him and why we felt the compunction to sell him last summer having just sold a vastly improving Gabriel.

      Too many were wanking off to their (again) own rainbow version of Rob HOlding.

      Don’t get me wrong he is a talented lad and has potentially a great future for us but like assessments of Elneny and Jenkinson before, many of these people are chasing fantasy.

      Mustafi came straight into the team and had to adapt quickly.

      If we remember Koscielny’s first season, it was strewn with plenty of reds, own goals and penalties conceded.

      Mustafi in that context did very well first season.

      I think he is the successor to Koscielny in terms of the mobile intercepting end of the defense.

      Where I think we will need to consider in coming summer is the height issue with Per set to retire.

      Llorente’s knock down to Son illustrates we may still benefit from a player with slightly more height as neither Mustafi, Koscielny or Monreal are anywhere beyond 6′

      This is where Holding has the potential but if his progress is still not sufficient this season, I’d expect we will have to look out in market for a more complete package.

    • gooner4life, what are ‘the arses’?
      As someone who started following Arseblog last year, I don’t know what it is, but it seems a fun feature!

      • A mythical carrier pigeon which we used to abuse the manager and the team when we lost, and everyone else when we won.
        (and send messages about impending dooooom during transfer market)

  6. “again a suggestion of offside and again I would ask you to think of a number larger than infinity to represent my shit giving”

    At first I was confused by this, thinking, “Blogs, are you saying you give tons of shits about this?”, but then I realized that a number larger than infinity is a mathematical impossibility, so you were actually saying it is impossible for you to give shits about it to any degree whatsoever. It is this educated perspective which I enjoy about your writing. Thank you.

  7. I know this is off-topic, but for people who know better than me, is there any chance at all Alexis might change his mind and sign if we get into the CL next season?? Like De Gea ended up doing..

    • Sadly no I fear. The difference being that we have unfortunately allowed both of our big stars to completely run their contracts down….poor from the CEO, but he’s a waste of space…..

      I think I am allowed a moan up about Ghastly Gazidis notwithstanding the warm afterglow from yesterday?

  8. Notwithstanding that the scum were awful, I don’t think any of us here would have any complaints if we put in a performance like that week in and week out. The fact that we don’t highlights a problem that clearly needs solving. That said, a stupendous win against the scum who, like most if not all the teams in the PL, had absolutely no answer to us when we play like that. Brilliant.

  9. Imagine being in a competitive relationship with somebody spanning say 30 years and for all that time you can’t shake an inferiority complex that you just aren’t as good as that other person. You train tirelessly every day to get the upper hand, try every trick in the book, spar with all the determination that you can muster, but alas every blow you throw hits fresh air. These feelings gnaw away at your very being and you get severely depressed. Over time, however, the opponent in this story gets complacent and starts taking for granted that they will always be superior. Their standards drop and there is a real feeling that there may be a sea change in the relationship. Sure enough performances for the other person improve to the point that they begin feeling better about themselves, gradually feeling like an equal and then that they may even be surpassing their rival. This goes to their heads a bit and they indulge in unseemly behaviour, bragging as to how high they will soar and what glories they will claim in the near future…… I think you get the point. Go easy on that lot today. They’re gonna be hurting ?

  10. Agree with the “blueprint for success” mantras echoing around the web. But one of the things I loved seeing was when xhaka got tackled by kane off the field. 5-6 arsenal players ran over to appeal to the ref, yell at kane, yell at the linesman, and check on xhaka. That is brilliant from a TEAM. How many times have we seen our players get taken out and no one on the team checks on them or appeals or gets in the opposition’s face? Love that, come on Gooners!

  11. Arse
    Morning Arsemates. Fucked them lilly white wankers good and proper.
    Clearly this is the massive 1pt power-shift they were on about. Cunts.

  12. I think we might see Ozil and Sanchez play like this for the next few weeks, to get their moves away from the Emirates come JanuarJanuary/Summer, which would be sad to see them go but I suppose all good things must come to an end..

  13. My news feed was particularly quiet today. Spuds fans not even rising to my bait. What a useless disappointing bunch of +++++ they are.
    I’m still buzzing from the performance of the whole team. Please please please play like this regularly

  14. Can’t agree more.

    Defense is the foundation for everything and we seem to have found good balance again with a re-invigorated Mustafi back in.

    Ozil for me was good but I didn’t think (if you watch the game again…if you would bother to hehe) that he was as ‘brilliant’ as some imagined him to be.

    Still plenty of turnovers, miscues when we needed him to finish the move but better considering work rate and usual standards of competition.

    BUT the back line was outstanding.

    Mustafi was massive. This is a player unfairly criticised.

    When we remember the number of reds, own goals and penalties conceded by the excellent Koscielny, Mustafi came straight into the squad, had to adjust on the go and largely did the business for us.

    That we were willing to let him go last summer having let the vastly improved and maturing Gabriel depart in same window and instead entrust our season to the as yet half baked talent potential of an over hyped (in usual certain quarters) Holding is an utter mystery to me.

    That’s not to say our defense was by any means perfected. there were still plenty of nervy moments and the one issue I do have at the moment is we can still be bullied for height (as examplified in the knock down from Llorente to Son).

    Monreal is 5’10, both Mustafi and Koscielny are about 6′.

    This is not to say we need to replicate the extreme altitude of the soon to depart Per but we should be on the look out for a taller unit to come in with Mustafi in near future.

    Naturally Holding comes into frame but we also have to remember both Monreal and Koscielny are getting older. We may have one more season with Le Boss IMO.

    But the defense it has to be said was not the back 3 alone.

    It was defense from all areas.

    the midfield (Granit and Rambo) stayed discipline (made the cynical fouls when necessary but did not tempt fate with Mike bloody Dean). They also kept their spacing right.

    Granit did the simple things well. He isn’t the world’s most celebrated tackler by a wide margin so he showed the Spurts to the wideer areas and generally kept a strong presence in the middle or filled in for the intercepting Cbacks when necessary. We will need this sort of fine tuned decision making from him as he seeks to improve this side of both his game and ours.

    I’ve said before that part of the reason why Ramsey gets so much stick is because his role is particularly one of the most interpretive in the team.

    He needs to know when to push forward, help overload or press and when to drop back.

    In that, I was encouraged that he stayed discipline and helped on the right with Bellerin even when we switched formation to cover the flagging Lacazette and Ozil with Coquelin and Iwobi in. You would have expected Ramsey to be pushed more forward in support of Alexis on the break but he kept diligent as well covering his Rback.

    And defense starts from the top.

    In that the 3 big players in Ozil-Lacazette and Alexis helped press as a unit hauling along the midfield. That’s where we were so effective first half in shutting down their passing lanes, the latest incarnation of genius manager at White Fart Lane of course deciding to have a wank experiment in matching us in an unfamiliar 3 at the back on their end…much to their detriment.

    Overall much to be MORE than satisfied with but the nugget would be can we repeat the performance against lower opponents. Consistency wins you the league.

    On the day, we have a team that can blow away anyone (in the Premiership at least) but it has always been the case that we have never been discipline enough to follow on our better performances with the same hunger and desire through 38 game stretch (granted injuries)

    Lets build on this momentum and start to cull back the leaders is the message that the squad should adhere to in single focus and as a unit, similar to the defensive display.

  15. That’s about the best Arseblog I have ever read. Spot on about Moustafi, spot on about the defence and spot on about “ what goes round comes round” we rarely seem to get the rub of the green so like you say “Sp-rs suck it up”, you bunch of whinging tossers

  16. Only this Saturday, did Emirates sound like a football stadium rather than a movie hall. While most people are asking why Arsenal don’t play like this more often, I ask why we don’t create such an atmosphere inside the stadium more often. Point to ponder.

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