Still, the complainers can’t quite content themselves with a positive result. Pity.
Maybe it’s Liverpool’s fault. After all, they shellacked Man U at Old Trafford earlier in the day, highlighting our own inability to do the same, and this may have put a few fans in a funk as they fretted over our own poor showing at Old Trafford. Maybe it’s Tomáš’s fault for scoring so early—the fastest goal we’ve ever scored against Tottenham, if I recall correctly. He set us up to expect a romp, didn’t he? When Ox missed a few minutes later, though, the glee was already fading as too many of us began to wonder and then worry at what might happen. But for some poor finishing from Adebayor and silly diving from Rose, Spuds did have chances that they couldn’t finish off.
Some folks are just too hard to please, to be honest. A North London Derby is always going to be tense, and form matters little. The passions on both sides can overflow, leading players to mis-play the ball in their urgent desire to make something happen. Rather than criticizing the boys for struggling to create chances or score more goals, why not credit them for a hard-fought and well-earned victory, one delivered through stout and resolute defending? That might be too much to ask.
Slagging a team is easy; so’s supporting them when the scoreline’s 3-0. Unfortunately, we’re not set up, nor are we currently equipped, to deliver those kind of results. Shorn of threats like Ramsey, Walcott, and Özil, we’re going to have to manufacture wins, grinding them out from time to time. Still, players stepped up and did what it took, which is apparently not quite enough. I know that twitter is not where one goes for measured, well-thought out critiques, but it still surprised me to see how negative people were being. Giroud was apparently the worst player on the pitch. Wenger was a terrible manager. And on and on.
Frankly, I’m proud that we went into hostile territory and claimed the result we needed. No, it won’t produce as many iconic, memorable moments as other derbies, such as Theo’s salute or Henry’s slide, and this won’t go down in history as the greatest match ever played by any stretch. Slogs are inevitable, and when a match fails to live up to the hype, the hype has to shoulder some of the blame.
So we ended up defending a lead for the entire match while failing to generate much of anything going forward. Fine. Whatever. How many times have we pressed forward looking for a goal only to get caught out and concede instead? Whether we won 0-1 or 0-10 doesn’t matter, and it’s not as if we’re going to catch up to Liverpool or Man City on the goal-differential issue. This might be an issue should we finish even with Chelsea, but goal-differentials only come into play after we’re level on points. First things first, then: just win.
We did that.
The play of Per and Kos particularly throwing themselves on the ground and stopping a certain goal as well as the innumerable time Per seems to have headed balls out of the danger area makes this as great and memorable a Derby as those when lots of goals were scored. Only a few years ago, every corner taken by the opponent was a sure goal as Arsenal seemed lost when it came to defending set pieces of any kind. today, much like the Spartans fending off the Persian army, they all stood tall, but unlike the 300, they did not perish.If we want a memorable goal we did get one from Tomas. Unfortunately, Ox needs to watch (over and over) films of that one goal and learn that when the opportunity presents itself, there is no need to pass. (Granted, based on subsequent shots he took, we may not be sure he would have scored on that first opportunity either). Personally, Ox demonstrated why, I believe, he will surpass Theo once he does develop a greater sense of when to shoot and, of course, a bit more precision than he now is showing too often per match. Overall, the entire band stood tall and held off a desperate group of Spurs (or spuds) causing anguish to the home folk (so much the better) and proving they can play defense when needed. Olivier and Podolski seemed to have vanished for much of the game but that only proves how badly they need Ozil to distribute to them and how “green” Ox is at his latest position.Now, of course, comes Jose and his mind games. Will any of the walking wounded be in a position to return by next weekend or will the same valiant group be asked to rise once more to the occasion?