Arsenal suffered a 1-0 loss to bitter rivals, Tottenham last weekend but the scoreline definitely flattered the Gunners. We were especially poor, struggling to match the intensity, pace and power of our opponents. The Gunners are now 8 points behind 4th placed Chelsea, which has all but ended our top 4 hopes. Tottenham waltzed through the Arsenal team and showed that there is a gradual shift of power in north London, a fact that Arsenal fans wouldn’t have thought possible some 15 years ago.
The pair of Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele played with power and strength that looked straight from the textbook of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva, midfield generals that epitomised the strength of Arsenal in the early 2000s. The quintet of Mohammed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jack Wilshere were overrun time and time again, and these players must look themselves in the mirror.
The club needed them to stand up when it mattered most but they didn’t and they made the club pay. Despite having a fantastic first start in the colours of Arsenal in the 5-1 thumping of Everton recently, Mkhitaryan was anonymous in the Wembley clash, leading yet another testament to the fact that he keeps going missing in the big games. The Armenian international offered none of the defence-splitting passes he is known to do. He must step it up when it matters most.
Time and time again, he had space and opportunity to lay chances on a plate for his teammate, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but he did nothing of such before being substituted in the second half. For the German playmaker, Mesut Ozil continued his lack of big-game mentality in the clash at Wembley, as he looked out of sorts, demoralised and lacked the willpower to influence the game. He is a big player and showed his commitment to the Arsenal cause by signing a new three-year contract at The Emirates last month, but against Tottenham, he had his shoulders drooped and showed the body language of a player who didn’t think it possible to defeat their opponents time and time again.
Jack Wilshere was the only Arsenal midfielder that showed any of the passion and commitment needed to play in a Derby game, but on footballing terms, he looked a tad ineffective. There were no penetrative passes to stretch the Tottenham defence, no runs from deep to peg the Spurs players back in their own halves. He looked ordinary as he was left to battle the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen without finding much joy.
Elneny, the Egypt international was drafted in by Wenger to add more solidity in the midfield alongside Xhaka, but the pair couldn’t cope with the sheer physicality of the Tottenham midfield. Xhaka has been criticised by some sections of the Arsenal fans, who have berated him for his lackadaisical approach to the game, especially in the wake of Arsenal’s loss to Swansea last month.
While the midfield was not entirely culpable for the defeat, it was the lack of their intensity that allowed Tottenham to completely dominate the game. They betrayed the club.
Post by Pat from Arsenal FC Blog