Nov 9th, 2015 by 'holic
The pre-match slight whiff of tension was palpable. A police presence outside the pub and queues to get in. Those squashed inside relayed the news of Villa’s draw with Citeh. “Win today and we go top”.
Inside the ground a more sombre tone was rightfully set as the dead of past conflicts were remembered. The whistle introduced the latest North London derby, and almost immediately the neighbour-for-the-day spotted Mathieu Flamini warming up. It transpired that Santi Cazorla had fallen ill before the match, and in fact after he was unwell again at half-time so was replaced by Flamini for the second-half.
That is one explanation for the grip that Tottenham were able to exert on our midfield. The visitors, it has to be said, controlled the match for long stretches, but fortunately for us they lack something up front, an end product to the pretty patterns they tried to produce. Sound familiar?
They got the lead they deserved when, for the second time in a week, we attempted a suicidal offside trap. On Wednesday Gabriel was the culprit, and this time it was his replacement, Laurent Koscielny. Kane was left to latch on to Rose’s through ball and slot it inside Petr Cech’s far post.
After the break the introduction of Flamini gave us a foothold in midfield and a more even contest ensued. Joel Campbell and Eriksen traded near misses before the first of a pair of headers from Olivier Giroud flicked against the crossbar. Mesut Ozil was becoming a significant force and from one of his corners Giroud headed wide and the crowd audibly strangled screams of delight for what should have been the equaliser.
It was one of those days for the Frenchman, and he deserved a goal for the way he battled with Vertonghen and Alderweireld throughout. The latter brought a fine save out of Petr Cech from a corner after the Arsenal ‘keeper had denied Eriksen again. It was starting to look as though it was Tottenham’s day, and certainly I cannot recall seeing a better performance from the visitors at our place for many a moon.
Surprisingly, although this derby was not as combustible as some down the years, only one yellow card was brandished all match, to Lamela. Some might offer congratulations to Martin Atkinson, although others were somewhat confused by his failure to deal with the serial offender that was Dembele. It is a sign perhaps that Arsenal lacked that combative edge we have come to expect in this fixture?
Arsene sent on Kieran Gibbs for, somewhat surprisingly, Campbell. A weary looking Alexis was sent to the right flank and Gibbs slotted into the left. All of a sudden Tottenham were on the back foot. Ozil, pick of the Gunners midfield, sent a delicious cross to the far post and Gibbs, of all people, was on hand to beat the scrambling Lloris. Arsenal definitely finished the stronger with Giroud, having one of those days, hitting one over the bar and forcing another save from Lloris.
And then it was over. It was a strange feeling too. Most back at the pub agreed Tottenham had been the better side for more of the contest, but we had spurned the better chances to win it. So an air of relief that we had got a ‘come from behind’ point was tempered by the frustration that we might have really riled them by nicking all three points instead of just one.
Then of course there was the photo they sent around on social media sites before kick-off. It isn’t the first time they have done it at our place. In fact it is every time they visit that some degree of damage is caused to the toilets and seats. Yes I know some of our idiots tore down a £200 cardboard hoarding at their place, but think of the timing and scale of this latest piece of pure vandalism. Before the kick-off. They forced their own to wallow in their own filth for the rest of the match, and landed their club with yet another massive repair bill. Mindless morons. Say no more.