By 1970’s Gooner
In my preview of the game I was worried for Arsenal on two counts. The first was Gilberto’s jet lag and related fatigue and the second was the persistent choice by Wenger to select Flamini ahead of Diaby.
Gilberto did indeed nearly prove a liability as he was at fault for the first goal and for at least two glaring positional errors which nearly gifted Spurs what would have probably proved crucial goals.
Let me explain.
Tottenham’s goal came after a needless free kick given away by Gilberto in a dangerous area outside the box.
It was a foul from behind on a player was had his back to goal and more importantly was going away from the area! I can only assume that it was tiredness which blurred Gilberto’s decision making.
The same excuse can be given for his two positional errors late in the game and his lack of pace to get back.
Thankfully, as predicted in my preview of the game, Toure was at hand to thwart the danger on the one occasion. For the second Almunia saved Keane’s shot when he raced through free in the area one on one with the goalkeeper.
But Wenger’s decision to continue with Flamini in central midfield is strange. Ok he knows best etc but surely Diaby is a far more forceful and powerful player best suited for this position than Flamini.
The decision on this occasion did not result in anything serious. But when we come up against better and more forceful midfields than what Tottenham had on show it will.
Added to this an even more strange decision, which had me scratching my head to understand its reasoning, was Diaby’s deployment as a left winger!!!
This selection was made on two occasions before. The last one was against Chelsea at the Emirates in the 1-1 draw and against Aston Villa away when in fact Diaby inadvertently scored the only goal of the match.
I seem to recollect that on those occasions Wenger’s options were limited due to injuries. But against Spurs he had Rosicky on the bench as well as Walcott and Denilson.
Surely Rosicky could not have been deemed too tired to start the game? Even if he was he could have been substituted in the second half if and when the need arose. But to start with Diaby on the left flank was close to criminal in my mind.
He was the worst performer from the Arsenal side until his substitution by Rosicky who helped change the game when he came on.
Again, selection mistakes like this might go unnoticed when you play the lesser teams but against the big ones you are only as strong as your weakest link, remember.
In the end however Tottenham’s weakest links proved more serious than Arsenal’s. As indicated in my preview of the game they have a serious weakness in the center of their defence and in their midfield.
The absence of King and the deployment of two young and relatively inexperienced central defenders along with an uncertain goalkeeper, when it comes to high balls, was always going to be their undoing.
They also lack a creative midfielder but more importantly they lack penetration from the wings. Clearly the absence of Lennon removes a large part of their threat going forward.
Maybe Wenger’s decision to start with Diaby was that he fell for Jol’s mind games before the match hinting that Lennon was fit and could start.
In the end my prediction of 1-3 proved correct!
Interesting moments of the game; for me
- The assist given for Arsenal’s first goal by a Spurs supporter! He tried to run on to the pitch as Fabregas was taking a quick free kick which inadvertently caused the referee to bring play back. Fabregas retook the free kick and the rest is history!
- Adebayor’s Henriesque second and Arsenal’s third goal. If it was Henry or even Robin Van Persie that scored it everybody would have been really raving about it
- Bent’s glaring miss with only Almunia to beat. His comments before the game are now coming back to haunt him. He also proved that his only similarity to Henry is the transfer price.
Arsenal’s weaknesses Vs Tottenham’s. Preview and Prediction
Mind games from Jol and Wenger
Fabregas is a more effective player than Scholes. The statistical analysis backs it up