A comprehensive 3-0 North London derby victory for Arsenal against Tottenham on Saturday was largely a case of Spurs losing the game rather than the Gunners winning it. The Premier League encounter at The Emirates Stadium was effectively over after a disastrous minute for Spurs just before half time. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp must have been extremely disappointed with Spurs’ performance, and the fans are forced to endure the taunts of their rivals for another couple of months at least. But where did it all go wrong for Tottenham?
All three goals on Saturday came from defensive errors and much of the blame has to fall on the players themselves. It was unusually a bad day at the office for Ledley King, who was caught on his heels for the first goal and failed to cover the near post area. Arsenal’s Robin van Persie stole a march on him and forced the ball home from close range, and maybe King’s lack of training is starting to hurt him. It must be incredibly hard for King to be match sharp after doing little training in the week, and Saturday’s poor performance was the first sign that a lack of training is starting to catch up with the England defender.
Redknapp would have been pulling his hair out for Arsenal’s second goal, but some credit must also go to Cesc Fabregas for the way he took it. 10 seconds after falling behind the ball was in the back of the net once more due to a sloppy pass from Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios. His teammates were unable to get him out of jail and Fabregas was allowed to glide towards the box and slot the ball into the bottom corner. The third goal was criminal, with Spurs defenders failing to do something that you are taught when you first step onto a football pitch. They didn’t play to the whistle and allowed Sagna all the time in the world to find van Persie in the box with the help of some average keeping from Gomes, and that was that.
Some blame also has to fall with the manager, as Redknapp employed overly negative tactics. Even though he was missing Defoe, Lennon and Modric, there was no excuse for Spurs sitting back and seeming content to pump the ball up to Crouch. Obviously Harry wouldn’t have expected for his team to gift Arsenal three goals and said his side committed suicide, but Spurs would have been better served to go after Arsenal and put them on the back foot right from the off.
So Saturday was a day to forget for Tottenham, but their season is far from over and they still have enough quality to challenge for a top four spot. Too many players didn’t perform against Arsenal and Redknapp will be keen for his side to bounce back at White Hart Lane next weekend with a win against Sunderland. However, Spurs still have a long way to go to match Arsenal despite the claims of captain Robbie Keane, who may be advised to do his talking on the pitch in the future rather than off it.
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