Spurs stand still as Gunners fire five in derby comeback

By on February 27, 2012

Team mates congratulate Walcott after his Hyde-Jekyll performance

By Shaun Wares.

After a long hiatus from football journalism, I decided to return to the fray to cover one of the most interesting fixtures of the season. As usual, the North London derby did not fail to disappoint, with seven goals, including one controversial penalty, injuries, a red card and importantly, a personal triumph for one of the Gunner’s most maligned players.

Many Arsenal fans, much like Wenger, would have had their head in their hands after conceding the second goal, particularly with the questionable validity of the penalty. What may have come as more of  a blow was the appearance of Adebayor on the opposite side of the scoresheet once again.

Arsenal fans could be forgiven for acting surprised at their team’s uncharacteristic change of attitude and subsequent fortune. In recent seasons, Arsenal have been seen as a club more famed for their lack of physicality, determination and mental grit. Notable results include the Newcastle meltdown, and more recently the Champions League embarrassment against AC Milan. At two goals down, a familiar picture was being painted.  However, what followed was debatably one of the best Arsenal performances of recent seasons.

What some might neglect is that the first Arsenal substitution was not made until the 75th minute. The final Arsenal goal came in the 68th minute. This means that exactly the same team that went two goals down in the opening 35 minutes, completed the full and convincing comeback. There were some memorable Arsenal performances, but the consistent performance of the team as a whole was perhaps more important on this occasion.

However, Arsenal cannot take full credit for the victory when we consider the collapse of Tottenham. Despite their scorching start, their defence was hapless at times and often played catch up as Arsenal moved forward. The introduction of Van der Vaart, intended to galvanise the ailing Spurs, did nothing to win the midfield battle, as he, Modric, Parker, Sando and Kranjcar allowed the game to bypass them.

Wenger conceded after the game that he had considered substituting Walcott prior to his two goals. It is not a rare occurrence that a single player bears the brunt of criticism for his team’s poor performances. It is true that recently, he has failed to show the sort of touch and brilliance that fans feel he is capable of. His two goals demonstrated the sort of pace and finishing ability that we all know his is capable of. Although personally, I feel his performance was not worth of a man-of-the-match award, if he can offer these types of performances consistently over 90 minutes, he may go some way to restoring his confidence, as well as that of the fans.

This match in no way means that Arsenal can close the gap between Spurs and themselves. This game was a rare Arsenal gem in what has been a largely disappointing season, and overturning the seven point deficit is a big task, in particular as their form is more than a little erratic.

Needless to say, this result will go some way to relieving the pressure on Wenger, and provides a foundation for a successful League run. Arsenal fans will believe that the team can build on this, but at this stage, I will need a bit more convincing. If they are capable of delivering more team performances like this, they’ve won half the fight.

See player ratings from the game here

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