I have quite a few thoughts on this game. I didn’t put them forward last night because I needed the night to recover from what ended up as a pretty depressing experience. It was just the scoreline more than being knocked out of the cup. It looks as if God was still on his Jewish High Holy Days and therefore unavailable to help out that particular night.
Redknapp fielded an extremely inexperienced team, but in it were the more experienced debutants in Stipe Pletikosa and Sandro. Wenger, being his usual self-even from the directors’ box where he was serving a touchline ban-fielded the same kind of team, adding the senior players as the game went on.
It really was a game of two halves. Spurs’ first half was terrible. Let’s face it, please. I’ve heard of Total Football, but their movements were Total Crap. I could see it from the Upper North Stand. There was no structure and no organised forward passing movement. Players were running anywhere and everywhere whilst having no end product from it. Arsenal’s passing was more concise and they kept their formation better.
Worst of all, Spurs kept giving the ball away unnecessarily, allowing Arsenal to continue domination of possession and grab the first goal through Lansbury. Arsenal’s new boy got on the end of a well-placed cross that flashed past Pletikosa leaving the net wide open, sending the rather large collection of Arsenal fans into raptures. That was arguably the loudest cheer that we’ll ever hear from them for a while.
Spurs from then just seemed to be waiting for half time to be called. Score was 0-1 to Arsenal.
In the second half, Spurs came out with more gusto than when they began. Keane entered the fray in the place of Giovani Dos Santos who wasn’t as involved in attacking as I expected him to be. Spurs finally had a player upfront to pass to.
Keane got onto a through ball and struck low to the right to equalise. Arsenal’s goalkeeper-Lukasz Fabianski-got a firm hand on it, but it slipped through like his hand was a swinging door from a Wild West movie. Keane’s equaliser not only lifted the roof off the stadium, but for me it stirred a memory or two of his heyday; a period where his finishing ability was second to none and he relished every goal he scored for us.
Lennon (in place of Jake Livermore) missed a GOLDEN-and I mean GOLDEN-opportunity to put Spurs ahead when he was put through on goal by Keane. All he had to do was strike first time, but he dawdled on the ball and was subsequently well challenged by Koscielny.
A last-minute 20-yard strike from Samir Nasri forced the first important save from Pletikosa.
The score was level at full time, so extra time was on the cards. Never a dull moment with this club is there, apart from being convincingly knocked out of a cup by Arsenal of course. Both teams threw on their big guns at this point. Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh replaced Tomas Rosicky and Carlos Vela while Spurs brought on Niko Kranjcar for Sandro.
Two penalties in the opening minutes finished Spurs’ League Cup campaign prematurely. Nasri went down in a heap as if he had been zapped with a tazer, but strangely had the resilience to pull himself to his feet and slot home his penalty. Chamakh went down in the same fashion and Nasri slotted that penalty into the same place as before to put Arsenal completely out of sight.
Bentley and Keane had chances to get Spurs back into the game, but both their shots hit the outside of the post. It was over before we knew it. Arshavin nailed Spurs’ League Cup coffin with another goal later on in the extra half-hour of play.
As I said earlier, the first half was embarrassing, but the second half looked to be a bit more respectable and almost champagne football compared to the first. I mainly wrote this article to give my opinion on our debutants and which players did a good job for us despite the heavy loss.
Arsenal were definitely the better team because they wanted it more (first piece of silverware in five years and all that). Funny how the entire away seat allocation was filled for this match yet the Arsenal fans generally, up until beating us, didn’t give a monkey’s about this trophy as they thought they could [easily] win any of the other three out of the FA Cup, Champions’ League and the Premier League.
They are a funny lot.
Sandro was IMMENSE; a no-nonsense player who won the ball every time. He already looked like someone for Palacios to look up to I think. Naughton looked comfortable taking up a sweeper role, but needs to be careful not to let too many opponents flood the empty space.
Caulker – Eeeeek, still young and needs a bit more work; looked very nervous at the back.
Pletikosa was fine, made a few good saves, but nothing really for him to work for so to me he’s still an unknown quantity at the Lane. Wouldn’t mind seeing what he can do against West Ham. Could become a hero over the course of Saturday afternoon…we’ll see.
Bassong really stepped up for us and put a good shift in barring the penalty conceded. Kudos to him.
Nasri trips over his own shadow and so does Chamakh.
I also think (prepare yourself for this) Lennon lost his spark. His attacking mentality wasn’t there, or at least it was shut out for a long time. The wingers all floundered too much I’m afraid; and it reduced attacking options dramatically.
Pavlyuchenko had a terrible first half. He isn’t a good holding player like Crouch is upfront. Long balls either came to nothing or ran away from him. If you’re going to play Pavlyuchenko, you need 4-4-2, otherwise he’s no use.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to go all Jerry Springer on your hinies.
The North London Derby is about bragging rights. Arsenal have the majority of these rights for now, but I guess that we can still brag about scoring one more than Arsenal in a romp 😉
To all Gooners ready to brag, all I have to say to you is, ‘meh…’ we played our reserves and don’t care about this trophy as much as the others. Sound familiar? Oh yes it does.