Tag Archives: Tottenham


Arsenal v. Tottenham: iconic moments

We don’t need to talk about the importance of the North London Derby. We all know the historical reasons why Spurs our our rivals. We all love to have bragging rights for a few months. And we all know the importance of this particular match as both a response to Arsenal’s defeat in Munich and in terms of Arsenal’s title challenge. In short, this match is bigger than global warming.

We could talk about the injuries which have taken a toll on Arsenal. Given the fact that Arsenal beat Man U and Bayern with a full squad and then followed that up with two tough losses to Sheffield Wednesday and Bayern Munich, it’s pretty clear that the Gunners are firing with half a keg of powder at the moment. But there’s not much that can be done about injuries except hand-wringing and fan-guessing who will play and what kind of performances they will put in.

And we could talk about what tactics we would like to see Arsenal deploy. Given the fact that Pochettino is a former Bielsa player, like Pep Guardiola in midweek, and given the fact that Tottenham are mostly healthy, I’m expecting them to try to control spaces both in and out of possession. Arsenal have to counter that with a more energetic version of the match in midweek. The Gunners simply cannot sit back and let Spurs dictate play. Arsenal have to control space in defense and hit Tottenham quickly on the counter. It’s going to be a tough match and Arsenal are going to have to put in a full performance to get all three points.

We can talk about those things but what I love about this match is how form, tactics, and our injury record seems to go out the window. The North London Derby, more than any other match of the season, is the ground on which heroes are born.

These matches create iconic moments, both good and bad. There’s the famous Lansbury leap when Arsenal won 4-1 in the League Cup and it’s opposite, the infamous Bendtner-Adebayor row in the same fixture two seasons prior. Of course, even in the midst of our shame, Spurs one-upped us in the shame department by releasing a DVD of the match!

But I don’t want to dwell on the negative moments: I tend to forget those pretty quickly. The ones where Arsenal doing something spectacular are my favorite football memories.

For example, remember’s Sagna’s header? Arsenal were down 2-0 at home. Louis Saha had scored a deflected shot to make it 0-1. Then Gareth Bale was played clean through on almost the exact same pass that had set Saha though and won a penalty. That’s when Arteta just stood a ball up from the left to the right. It wasn’t to any particular player and it wasn’t even a very good ball but Sagna just ran up and attacked the ball, sending a bullet header past the hapless keeper. Arsenal went on to win that match 5-2.

Arsenal were below Spurs in the table before that match. In fact, Arsenal were below Chelsea in 5th place at kickoff. That win, that comeback, spurred on Arsenal’s season and the Gunners finished 3rd. Which they needed to do to secure Champions League football because Chelsea finished 6th that season but took the 4th Champions League place away from Tottenham because they won the Champions League. In my mind, that header saved our season.

Of course there’s the legendary goal that Thierry Henry scored against Spurs in 2002. Easily the best solo goal in Arsenal’s Premier League history. It’s such an iconic moment that Arsenal enshrined it in Bronze outside the stadium. It’s a moment of such majestic beauty that Arsenal had to make it as permanent as possible, like Michelangelo’s David or Nelson’s Column.

But for me Vieira’s goal in 2004 is more memorable. I’m not suggesting that I’ll forget Henry’s goal, but Arsenal should have won the League that season and they finished 2nd instead. So, while Henry’s goal was a great individual moment, I agree with Arsene Wenger that those individual moments are as meaningless as drops of rain when compared to a storm.

Tottenham won an early corner but Gilberto headed away easily to Thierry Henry. Henry carried neatly up the pitch a bit to create a passing lane and slotted the ball to Bergkamp. Bergkamp had one look up and saw Vieira bombing through the midfield and slotted a caviar pass to him. Vieira reached out with his telescopic right leg and poked the goal home. Vieira had sprinted nearly the entire length of the pitch to get that goal. It was a goal which perfectly embodied that Arsenal team who could rapaciously turn defense into attack.

Arsenal won the League that day, at White Hart Lane. They won the League at White Hart Lane. They won the League in the cesspool. They won the League at White Hart Lane.

They won the League and went undefeated that season. It was the best team that Wenger ever produced and that goal is my favorite from that season. That goal was the filet of a season that was all Wagyu beef.

Impossible to bronze that moment but my friend @11cannons made a great drawing of it, and that drawing hangs on my living room wall.You should go buy a print if you still can.

There have been other moments that stand out in my mind, Rosicky’s hair catching the sun just before he bangs in the only goal of an Arsenal defensive masterclass or Flamini’s volley in the League Cup just a few weeks ago, but those three above are my favorites.

What I want more than anything else tomorrow is another moment like that Vieira goal. A moment which defines our season, which crystallizes this Arsenal side as title challengers.

Arsenal beat a very Spursy Tottenham to advance in the League Cup

It might not seem like it but I live an overloaded life. Regular 9-5 job, plus writing here and on Arseblog News, 50% custody of my daughter, and two nights a week of free time makes the weeks seem to pass like a roulette wheel, only briefly stopping on a random number before spinning again.

This weekend I did manage to land the roulette pill on 00 and take my daughter hiking. We went to our favorite spot and the place was teeming with toads. It was a pretty amazing little walk and I’ll write about it soon enough.

Yesterday I also managed catch the second half of the Arsenal Tottenham League Cup clash and it was nice to take a moment and relax before having to head back in to work and finish up some projects.

I had been glancing at social media during the first half and honestly thought the score was 1-0 to the bad guys. The gist of the commentary was that Debuchy was garbage legs and the rest of the team should also be fired, into the sun. So when I arrived at my local pub to watch the match I was surprised to see that Arsenal led the scoreline. I had to turn on the Arsenal app to see who had scored: Matthieu Flamini.

I used to go to this pub all the time and watch games. That was before every match was broadcast live on TV for free. And so I have a favorite place I like to sit. But my spot was taken by a group of white shirts and as I scanned the room I noticed that, like Saturday’s hike, the pub was teeming with toads.

To be fair, one of the owners is a Spurs fan and so it’s not a surprise that 90% of the crowd were anti-Arsenal but it was still jarring. I did an about face and planted myself away from the Spurs and settled down to watch how garbage Arsenal actually were.

The verdict: not really garbage. I mean, there were some weak moments. And Arsenal do look shaky at back but there were a lot of reasons why.

First, I’ve gone back and watched the first half and yes, Debuchy looked poor. His passing was terrible, he was caught out of position a lot, and Danny Rose tormented him. But that should be a clue — Danny Rose should be covered by Joel Campbell. In my mind when I see a fullback running at another fullback it’s because the wing player isn’t doing his job. Similar thing in terms of passing. Debuchy was 67% passing on the day but I felt like Campbell could have done better in terms of making himself available. So, as much as I’d like to pin the blame solely on Debuchy, the reality is that his teammates were leaving him out to dry time and again.

Second, Arsenal looked shaky because Arsene changed all six of the back six. Every single starting player from ‘keeper through defensive midfielder was changed from the loss to Chelsea.

But both teams’ back line looked easily penetrated. Arsenal cut Spurs open several times and but for the profligacy of Giroud and Alexis could have scored more. Giroud literally walked behind Fazio, latched on to Ramsey’s through ball and shot straight into Vorm. And Alexis had a similar shot from a similar position but weakly passed it to Vorm. Meanwhile, Arsenal needed an emergency face-block by Kieran Gibbs to clear Kane’s volley off the line and deny Spurs a second goal.

Both teams looked so bad in possession that I wondered if there wasn’t something wrong with the ball or the pitch. Neither team’s players seemed to be able to kill the ball when it was passed to them. Passes were often overcooked — Ox had at least three passes that were hit 20 yards further than they needed to be.

That showed in the final stats: Arsenal passed at 70% and Spurs at 77%. Both of these teams are significantly better passers than that and it’s not like the game was a full blooded “kick the opposition to pieces” derby — it’s just that neither team seemed capable of passing on the day.

There are some worrying things though from an Arsenal perspective. The Debuchy/Campbell partnership didn’t work.

Chambers also had a second night in a row where he gave away an own goal. Though to be fair to Chambers I have to wonder if Ospina failed to give him a shout. Ospina had the ball covered easily so why Chambers stuck out a leg is a mystery.

And up front, Arsenal’s goal-scoring woes continued. Giroud had a shot smothered by Vorm (good ‘keeping to be fair) and Alexis missed a sitter.

It was Alexis’ shot that worried me the most. He did all of the hard work to get past his markers, got into the perfect position, and scuffed the shot. It was the shot of a player who clearly lacks fitness. There were other times where he turned the ball over and then couldn’t muster up the energy to try to win the ball back. That’s something I’ve never seen from him before.

But the good news is that Arsenal got the win anyway, thanks to Flamini’s two goals. And the better news is that Arsenal looked like a team which has more gears to go through.

I’ve said all along that Arsenal have two teams worth of depth and Wenger clearly put that to the test and fielded a second team with every single position changed: Ramsey played in the Ozil role and did a fine job, creating four chances for his teammates; Ox played in the Sanchez role and it was his shot which was rebounded for Flamini’s first goal; Flamini and Arteta played well in midfield, redeeming Michael Cox’s assertion that in Arteta Arsenal have the best back up DM in the League; and Gibbs saved face, literally.

Despite the weaknesses in the the lineup, most notably the entire right side, Arsenal managed a win. I’m not foolish enough to suggest that this means the season is back on track but it’s a good win after a very trying week.


P.S. It’s Wayne Gretzky, Spurs.

I bet they would sell the naming rights on the back stand too!

7 reasons why Tottenham’s new stadium deal is bad for them and bad for football

7. Taxpayer subsidies

This is not a partisan issue. When football teams threaten their local council that they will either move or refuse to upgrade in order to force those councils to give them millions of pounds in subsidies then English Football is in danger of being flushed down the bowl of American sports.

Make no mistake, Spurs threatened to leave North London for Stratford. This is an old school strong-arm tactic here in America where team owners threaten local governments: build me a new stadium or I will take my team to another town.  Spurs did the exact same thing American sports teams do when they pursued a move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

But the worst part for me is that Tottenham threatened a deprived area.  As one Spurs fan put it, “Tottenham is quite a deprived area and by (the club threatening to pull) out, the long-term outlook for that area is relatively bleak.” Joe Lewis, one of the owners of Tottenham, is one of the wealthiest men on the planet and he successfully strong-armed £27m out of Haringey and London (from their riot recovery fund!!!) to help fund their football club.

This is the worst kind of robber barron politics, the wealthy taking from the poor, and the council and city giving in set a horrible example for other cities. I’m not one to make the “slippery slope argument” but teams in the USA often cite precedent when using this tactic to force taxpayers to give them money.

And wait to see what happens if the whole project starts to go pear shaped. The cry from Tottenham will be “we will have to close this project down” or “we will have to play our games at Wembley from now on” and that will “take thousands of jobs away from the people in your council” unless you “give us ________________ tax break/subsidy/write-off/land/etc/etc.”

6. Increased competition

I keep seeing people say that Tottenham will have it easier than Arsenal did because of the new TV deals, the increase in sponsorship money, and the higher profile of the Premier League. All of those things are true.

The only problem is that all of that increased money is going toward player salaries and transfers. And all of that money is being used to bring in top players to traditionally mediocre clubs: Crystal Palace signed Cabaye from PSG, Payet signed for West Ham, and Shaqiri just signed with Stoke City other upper-level named players will sign for clubs we never thought possible before. The level of competition in the Premier League is taking a huge jump forward as all of these clubs spend their money on bringing in talent that would normally have been reserved for bigger clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City.

All around them the competition is growing stronger, buying better players, and threatening Tottenham’s place in the middle of the table. This stadium could hamstring this club.

5. Increased Ticket Prices

Did you know that Tottenham supporters already pay the second highest ticket prices in the land? This is because unlike the Tank Shed in Fulham and the Oil Well in Manchester, Spurs are run like a business and the owners of the Spurs business don’t subsidize ticket prices.

Building a stadium ain’t cheap and even with taxpayer subsidies Spurs are going to have massive loans and massive repayment structures. Combined with the fact that they won’t be in the Champions League, will have to spend to attract new players, and can’t grow their commercial revenue, they will almost certainly eclipse Arsenal in terms of ticket prices when those loan markers come due.

Their fans are going to be paying some of the highest ticket prices in world sports to watch a team that can’t even make the Champions League? How long will that last?

4. Football is in a bubble

One of the hallmarks of a bubble is that no one ever notices that they are in the bubble; they just think the growth will go on forever. You think commercial sponsorships are just going to keep growing? That foreign television revenue will keep growing? That player salaries and transfer fees can keep growing unabated? This is a bubble. It’s going to burst soon.

And I suspect it may have already burst a bit. Many fans are expecting Tottenham to get a record deal for Naming Rights stadium. But do you think the major corporate sponsors are going to be eager to put their name on a stadium that isn’t even going to be featured in the Champions League? I actually think the sponsors have Spurs over the barrel a bit here and will be looking for value for their money. Without the leverage of a winning history, without Champions League football, and located in a depressed area, Tottenham might find the bride lacks suitors.

3. No history

Tottenham haven’t won a trophy in 7 years, haven’t won a major (FA Cup) trophy in 24 years, haven’t won the League in 54 years, and have only played ONE season in the Champions League since 1962. Unlike Arsenal, who built their stadium on the back of the Invincibles, Tottenham have no such foundation of recent winning for new fans to latch onto.

Many writers are lauding Tottenham’s deal to play a whopping 20 NFL games at the new stadium and saying that this will open the lucrative American market but I completely disagree. I can’t see many Americans adopting a club with no history just because their stadium was used to host an NFL game.

Fans who aren’t born into a club tend to be band-wagon fans. This isn’t a criticism — I love the band wagon fans when they pick my team — it’s just a fact that when you have no reason to pick a team, you tend to pick winners.

Most of the new football fans I meet in the States support Man U, Chelsea, Man City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. In fact, many of them support more than one of those big teams at a time!

So, unless Tottenham can work miracles and win something with little to no spend, or break into the Champions League, then if anything, this NFL deal might end up benefiting rivals who have won trophies and are in the Champions League: like Arsenal.

2. They are terrible in the transfer market

Without Champions League football, and the tens of millions of pounds (plus prestige) it brings to clubs, Tottenham will continue to struggle to keep their best players and will continue to struggle to buy top quality players. This leads to increased costs and diminishing returns.

Look at the clear out they had to do this season, Holtby, Capoue, and Paulinho have all been sold this summer. Soldado cost them €30m and they are currently flogging him for a packet of crisps. Huerelo Gomes was on their books until his free transfer to Watford last season, a loss of over €9m in transfer fees alone.  This list of transfer failures in the last four years is longer than the list of honors the club has won in its entire history. Tottenham have proved time and again that they are terrible in the transfer market.

1. There’s only one Arsene Wenger

It took Arsenal nearly a decade of austerity into their stadium project before they were able to spend freely again. In that time, Arsene Wenger was able to put together a football squad which perennially qualified for the Champions League, on a shoe-string budget, while being forced to sell off a star player (or more) every season.

Tactically, and by being astute in the transfer market, it was Wenger somehow keeping Arsenal in the Champions League with a ragtag bunch of misfits (Denilson and Song played midfield while Andrei Arshavin played center forward), that, more than any other factor, kept Arsenal in consideration for these top of the table sponsorships which eventually led to signing big name players.

Who will be their Arsene Wenger?

Oh and also, how great has Wenger been for Arsenal? I guess we will find out if Tottenham ever get their stadium built.