Tottenham 0 – 0 Arsenal – Match Report
10 man Arsenal fought hard to see out a scoreless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane yesterday.
Here’s how Arsenal lined up at the start :
Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy
Eboue, Song, Denilson, Nasri
Van Persie, Adebayor
New signing Andrei Arshavin was an unused sub along with, in an encouraging sign of things soon to come, Eduardo for the first time since his horrific injury.
It certainly wasn’t a boring game, despite the lack of goals, with plenty of action right from the start.
The game started at a fast pace, and Tottenham’s re-captured front-man Keane tried to argue for a penalty very early on.
Surprisingly, Arsenal’s early threat came thanks to an excellent start to the game from Eboue, who made a great surging run down the right flank, swapping a one-two with Van Persie and continuing into the box, before firing a low shot across Cudicini, although he would perhaps have been better served by pulling it back to Adebayor in the middle.
Shortly after, Arsenal had the ball in the back of the Spurs net but the goal was disallowed by referee Mike Dean for a shove by Eboue. Eboue had created the chance, picking up a loose ball on the edge of the Spurs box and dribbling to the byline before crossing back to Adebayor, whose shot was blocked by the keeper. Eboue collected the rebound and shot into the net, but play was called back for a push in the back of Woodgate by Eboue.
At this point, despite the goal being disallowed, I had been pleasantly surprised by the performance of Eboue, who had been the heart of Arsenal’s creativity. He was playing with a lot of passion and seemed to be getting all over the pitch at a pace that saw him leaving Spurs players flailing in his drift whenever he got on the ball.
This however was when it started to go wrong for Eboue. Sagna went in strongly for a header against Modric and the ref gave Tottenham a free-kick. There was probably not a lot wrong with the challenge, but Eboue got himself needlessly involved, remonstrating with the referee and earning himself a yellow card for dissent.
Following this Spurs started to get more of the ball and Modric and Lennon combined to test the Arsenal defence on a couple of occasions, Lennon shooting wide and Modric testing Almunia, who saved a shot well down low to his right.
Clichy’s tenacity created a chance when he chased a loose pass down to the Tottenham byline, robbed the ball from Corluka who was trying to shepherd it out for a goal kick and crossed low to Adebayor sliding in, who failed to get a toe on the end of it.
That was Adebayor’s last chance of the afternoon however, as he pulled up when chasing a long ball, with what looked to be a hamstring injury and was replaced by Bendtner.
Things got worse as the hot-headedness of Eboue proved to be his undoing. He was fouled by Modric, who earned a yellow card for the challenge, but kicked out in petulant Beckham style at the Spurs player, and after some delay was shown a second yellow and a red by referee Mike Dean, Arsenal left to fight for the rest of the game with 10 men.
Too often this season many Arsenal players could be criticised for playing with too little urgency and passion, but yesterday Eboue’s temperament ruined the game for Arsenal. Both of the yellow cards he picked up were completely pointless bookings; not recieved for hard but necessary tackles to stop the opponents from creating chances, but through needless niggling with the referee and petulantly kicking out at an opposition player. He let the occasion get the better of him and today will come in for much criticism from Arsenal fans for leaving his teammates to battle out the game a man down.
I was left thinking that if we could somehow cross-breed Adebayor, with his grossly indifferent performances of late (no criticism on yesterdays game and I wish him a swift recovery from injury) and Eboue, with his rash and hot-headed behaviour, we might meet somewhere in the middle and get a first-class player!
Arsenal wanted to win the game even with 10 men, and kept Van Persie and Bendtner upfront after Eboue’s departure, with Denilson, Song and Nasri left in midfield.
In the second half, Spurs with their man advantage saw more of the ball and had a couple of decent spurned chances on goal. Arsenal attempts on goal were rare until later in the second half, when they had some opportunities, mostly from corners and on the break. One of the best chances saw Song volley wide from Van Persie’s corner.
Gael Clichy sustained a nasty head injury challenging for a header, and was down on the ground with blood pouring from his head as the repugnant Spurs reprobates chanted “same old Arsenal, always cheating”. What scum.
Bendtner had a great chance near the end of the game when Van Persie set Bendtner free in space, who unleashed a vicious rising shot at the Spurs goal, but it was tipped over the bar well by Cudicini.
Spurs had one more chance on the break with Arsenal stretched, but Almunia came out speedily to block Modric’s shot well.
Arsenal fought bravely to win the point, there were pretty much equal chances for the two teams in the second half, and the game could have gone either way. Arsenal defended solidly though, and in the circumstances one has to be happy with the point.