I am a complete glutton for punishment to do a live blog on a match that I expect my team (Spurs) to get thrashed by our biggest rivals, Arsenal, but at least it will distract me somewhat from the annihilation. Since I have not left myself much time before the start of the game, here are the starting lineups and a couple of pre-match bets:
Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Sandro; Townsend, Bentaleb, Eriksen, Chadli; Adebayor.
Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Cazorla, Giroud
To me, Bentaleb and Chadli are two wasted spaces in the team that could’ve been filled by Paulinho and Sigurdsson, but I’m not Tim Sherwood so my opinion does not really count (for more on that viewpoint though, click here)
Tottenham to win: 1,000,000/1
Bentaleb to do anything to make me change my opinion of him being a waste of space: 100/1
Adebayor to do a salute to the Arsenal fans after scoring: 10/1; after winning a throw-in; 4/1
Tim Sherwood to peel off his Spurs sweater-vest and reveal his Arsenal tattoo in celebration at a Gunners victory: Evens
My prediction of a 6-1 defeat for Spurs: 2/1
1:15 – Spurs start lively, give the ball away, Rosicky picks it up, plays a one-two with the Ox and then slams the ball into the net. Tottenham 0 – 1 Arsenal. I hate being right
4 mins – I’m not surprised we are going to lose and I’m not even shocked that it happened so fast either. It’s going to make for a strange atmosphere at the Lane, the fans are trying to get behind the team now but as this gets messier it could all get quite unsavory and Sherwood might hear real abuse for the first time.
8 mins – Before games against his old clubs, the narrative goes that Emmanuel Adebayor will be up for the match as he will have a point to prove, as if the exorbitant wages he earns are not motivation enough for him to perform every week. Thus far he is not exactly showing any kind of drive, or ability to control the ball.
9 mins – Adebayor and Townsend run into each other as the ball goes out for an Arsenal throw-in. It would be funny if it was not so tragic as a Spurs fan.
12 mins – Although it was early, that goal has almost ended the game as a contest – Tottenham are having plenty of the ball but doing nothing with it, while the Gunners look like they can pick them off at any point and will exploit this ridiculously poor high-line very soon.
14 mins – Our best chance of a goal – a free-kick on the edge of the box for Christian Eriksen to take – is denied when Mike Dean does not blow up for a foul on Chadli. Arsenal then break and Oxlade-Chamberlain has a one-on-one with Lloris that he spoons wide.
15 mins – Tim Sherwood has ripped off his top layer in disgust at Tottenham’s defending – two more and we see the Arsenal tattoo.
18 mins – Andros Townsend puts in a great cross right in front of the Arsenal goal, but there is nobody there to convert it. On a related note, Jermain Defoe scored twice on his debut for Toronto FC yesterday (more on that to come tomorrow).
21 mins – Bacary Sagna takes out Danny Rose and receives a yellow card, but I’ve seen players sent off for such reckless challenges.
22 mins – Corner to Spurs. I’m a big fan of Christian Eriksen but his delivery on set-pieces can often be poor, hitting the first man. This time…it is spot on but Kaboul’s header is wide…for another corner.
23 mins – This time Eriksen does hit the first man and Arsenal clear.
24 mins – A moment that defines Emmanuel Adebayor – who can be brilliant on his day – a ball is played in through Sandro, the Togolese striker attempts an audacious, acrobatic effort. It goes over. And he was offside.
27 mins – I have to keep reminding myself that we are only one-nil down and not actually out of the match yet…but as I type that Podolski is found by Cazorla and plays a ball across the box that Oxlade-Chamberlain drills wide. But off a Spurs player so a corner to Arsenal that Metersacker flicks into the hands of Lloris. Seriously, it is apparently still only 0-1.
27.5 mins – Townsend and Naughton link up on the right-wing and the latter whips in a cross that Adebayor gets on the end of, but it goes just past the far post.
29 mins – Eriksen has a free-kick on the edge of the box, but it is the wrong side for a right-footer so he probably will try to put the ball into the box…Actually he shoots but it is over the bar.
31 mins – A nice ball into the box is headed down by Chadli, but the ball falls to a defender and the chance is gone – Adebayor was nowhere to be seen. Moments later, another chance breaks down when Townsend has nobody at which to aim. Chadli then gets booked for a foul in the middle of the pitch and Sandro is lucky to get away with holding onto Mike Dean as he protests the yellow card, with the referee clearly asking him “What are you doing?”
33 mins – I am not being drawn into this and I know we are going to get thrashed, but over the course of the game, Spurs have been the better team – but Arsenal still look much more likely to break away and score than we are to equalize.
35 mins – Lukas Podolski nearly proves me correct straight away as he out-muscles Kaboul in the box but he puts his effort into the side-netting. Phew.
36 mins – One of the Spurs faithful is audibly heard shouting at Danny Rose “Go at him (Sagna) he’s on a yellaaa card” and second later, the Tottenham left-back crumples under a challenge by Sagna, but Mike Dean correctly points to the fact that he won the ball and it was not a foul, much less a second booking.
39 mins – Christian Eriksen plays Nacer Chadli through and from just outside the box, the Belgian winger either a) puts the ball in the top corner; or b) drags his shot woefully wide. Place your bets…now!
41 mins – Olivier Giroud is caught offside more often than he is caught with…ahh finish the punch line yourself, I’m not a tabloid journalist.
43 mins – If I have been mis-spelling Oxlade-Chamberlain’s name throughout this post, then apologies to Arsenal fans but please note that 1) the pace of the match is non-stop and I have not had time to check; and 2) I do not really care because we are losing.
45 mins – From Twitter:
He’s not wrong. Spurs get a free-kick that goes nowhere and moments later, it is half time. Tottenham 0 – 1 Arsenal
Half time thoughts:
- Tottenham have actually played well – they have had 62% of the possession, yet have not had a shot on target thus far – but they do look like they can concede at a moment’s notice. Scoring early has seemed to make Arsenal relax and just look to pick the hosts off on the break, but if they continue to sit back in the second-half we might actually get something out of this match. More likely, a second goal five minutes after the interval, then the inevitable Spurs capitulation.
- Earlier today, Steven Gerrard scored two out of three penalties at Old Trafford – the first (and second) time Manchester United had conceded a spot kick at home in the Premiership – as Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners against their old adversaries. With Chelsea losing yesterday to Aston Villa, the title race is tightening up and Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City are also all still in the hunt, though Jose Mourinho ruled out the Blues as even being contenders in his post-match interview.
- If you are also a Spurs fan and need cheering up, look up “McConnelling” on either Twitter or YouTube and check out people putting some b-roll footage of Senator Mitch McConnell to various different tunes – a trend started by Thursday night’s The Daily Show. My favorites so far: The Office; and Creep
46 mins – No changes at half-time but NBCSN does take the opportunity to remind Tottenham supporters that we consistently finish below Arsenal and, for the last four years, have done so by just a single place. One way or another, St. Totteringham’s Day – when Gooners celebrates the mathematical clinching of their side finishing above their biggest rivals – has been celebrated (not by me) every season since 1995. That is not going to change any time soon.
47 mins – WHAT THE F*$(# Twice in quick succession Szczesny fails to grasp a long ball into the box but on the second one, Chadli only has to slot the ball past two defenders on the line but he cannot do it. Come on Spurs if you cannot score those…oh right we will not score.
48 mins – Bentaleb receives the ball with a yard of space and unleashes a brilliant left-foot shot into the bottom corner to equalize for Tottenham…I’m just kidding he played a terrible pass straight to an Arsenal defender. Moments later, Emmanuel Adebayor is caught offside. If I can get an Eriksen corner to hit the first-man and Lloris to come rushing out of his area and nearly get sent off for taking out a striker, I get Spurs bingo!
51 mins – Can we please take Chadli off the pitch…Adebayor plays in Townsend who whips the ball across and Chadli tries to flick the ball into the corner of the net with his heel, but instead it goes harmlessly wide. Two great chances to get level have fallen to the Belgian, who has waffled them both badly.
54 mins – A rousing slow chorus of “Oh When The Spurs” goes around White Hart Lane – something that I always loved when I was there, even though it exposed my horrendous voice. But they are right, enough negativity, let’s believe we can do this. Come on Tottenham, beat Arsenal.
56 mins – Podolski looks like he will be clear in the area but Kaboul comes across and wins the ball, putting it out for a corner. From the set-piece, the French defender again clears with a header and Spurs can break, but a double wave of attack comes to nothing.
61 mins – This is an end-to-end game…actually it’s been more of a box-to-box game as everything is breaking down 18 yards from either goal at the moment. Chadli once again ends a Spurs move by gifting possession back to the South Londoners.
64 mins – Bentaleb puts in a fantastic cross onto Adebayor’s head, but the ball goes just wide of the goal, while Graeme LeSaux in the commentary box continues his inability to tell the difference between the young Algerian midfielder and Nacer Chadli.
66 mins – If Arsenal go onto win this match, then their supporters must feel confident in their title challenge, because they have not even got out of second gear today. Then again with Spurs not having actually forced a save out of Szczesny, they have not needed to. Two Eriksen corners in a row end up without any reward.
68 mins – Spurs subs: Paulinho and Sigurdsson on, Sandro and Chadli off. Arsenal take off their goal scorer Rosicky, replacing him with Flamini to add more bite to their midfield.
70 mins – I assume that Sandro was removed rather than Bentaleb because he has been booked, otherwise that decision makes absolutely zero sense. Rose pumps a long ball toward Adebayor wins the header but cannot keep possession and the chance is gone. It’s been a good effort from the Togolese striker today, but he is isolated up front and the next change needs a second striker, which unfortunately means either Mad Men’s Harry Kane – who does not look good enough for the Premiership – or Roberto Soldado…who does not look good enough etc and so forth.
75 mins – A draw would not really be enough for Spurs, though it might help their morale going into the difficult second-leg of their Europa League tie with Benfica. Only 15 minutes left for them to get anything out of this game though and at the moment, it does not look like they will breach the Arsenal defence.
77 mins – Substitution for the Gunners: Monreal on, Podolski off. That’s two defensive changes by Wenger, Sherwood needs to bring on a second attacker and go at them. Instead he stands motionlessly on the touchline, silently cheering on his team, which he claims is now Tottenham. Lloris saves smartly from Mertersacker to keep the game in Tottenham’s reach…or at least at 1-0.
80 mins – Substitution: Soldado on for Bentaleb…that’s me hoping if I type it, then it might happen. Flamini is deservedly booked for a foul on Christian Eriksen, but that does not stop him complaining about the decision.
81 mins – How about that, Soldado is coming on – but ridiculously it is Eriksen coming off which is greeted with some boos by the home supporters, who know what they’re doing. ve he could do anything to make himself a hero to the Tottenham fans, it would be scoring against Arsenal. Unfortunately, he reminds me of Helder Postiga.
84 mins – I can just see us getting a free-kick on the edge of the box in the final few minutes and not having Eriksen on the pitch to take it. A third defensive change for the Gunners, Oxlade-Chamberlain off, Vermaelen on. Come on Spurs, ATTACK!!
86 mins – Some pinball around the Arsenal penalty area with Sigurdsson then Bentaleb having shots blocked by defenders. Wenger has on the pitch three centre-backs, two left-backs, one right-back and a central defender – wonder how he would react to an opponent taking up such tactics.
87 mins – Sherwood throws the ball hard at Sagna, twice, believing the Arsenal player to be wasting time in taking a throw-in – it is something of nothing, but it does endear me slightly to him, even if it does not make up for his useless management.
88 mins – From the edge of the box, Adebayor curls a shot that Szczesny comfortably gathers, but I think that might the first save of the match for the Polish keeper.
90 mins – There will be four minutes of added time, probably would have been five if Sherwood had not decided to throw the ball at Sagna. Either way, we are in the final knockings. Lloris for the equalizer from a corner…
90+1 mins – Well here is a corner…Sigurdsson will take…but it is flicked up and into the keeper’s hands without Soldado – who was standing two yards away – even making a challenge.
90+3 mins – Last chance saloon for Spurs, but Mike Dean is blowing up for anything resembling a foul at the moment. That’s pretty much the game, well done Arsenal fans.
Full time – A strange game, Spurs were behind for virtually the whole match and although they did have the better of the play, they never really looked like getting that equalizer and if they did, Arsenal probably would have turned up the pressure. Champions League qualification was already out of the question really so the loss does not do too much to those chances, but it is yet another loss against a top four side and against our bitter rivals, any defeat is hard to take. Basically for the rest of the season we are hoping for the Gunners to fail to win the Premiership – accepting that they already have the FA Cup in their grasp – while the significance of the next few months for Tottenham depends on them overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Benfica in the Europa League. Oh and thanks NBCSN for sticking with these Arsenal celebrations far longer than you would have done if Spurs had won…yes I’m bitter. On that note…