Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Match Review

Match Preview

Two stunning goals from Cesc Fabregas and Emanuel Adebayor helped Arsenal to overcome a 1-0 deficit and beat Tottenham 3-1 at White Heart Lane.

Arsene Wenger opted for a different lineup than I expected, opting to play Abou Diaby and Mathieu Flamini in the midfield alongside Fabregas and Alex Hleb. The defense was as expected, Kolo Toure and Gilberto at centre-back, with Gael Clichy on the left, Sagna on the right, and Almunia in goal. Up front Wenger opted to play Adebayor alongside Robin van Persie.

Arsenal started well, with Adebayor forcing a save out of England's number 1, Paul Robinson, in a Thierry Henry-like volley.

However, Spurs started better, with a goal from a Gareth Bale free kick after Gilberto made a clumsy tackle from behind on Dimitar Berbatov. This was not Gilberto's only error, as looked off color for most of the game, making several sloppy passes and making many positioning mistakes. The Brazilian captain had flown in from an international in Mexico just days earlier, so hopefully we can blame his performance on jet lag.

Adebayor nearly pulled one back straight away, again forcing Robinson (who made several great saves over the course of the game) to turn the ball around the post. Arsenal clearly wanted an equalizer, and with the lion's share of possession we had quite a few chances.

In the 25th minute a fabulous pass from Fabregas reached Alex Hleb on the edge of the penalty box. He looked sure to score, but the onrushing Robinson once again managed to save the shot.

Hleb made up for his weak shot with a moment of brilliance in which he dribbled through the Tottenham defense and laid the ball off to Abou Diaby, who's resulting shot hit the crossbar after having beaten Paul Robinson.

Towards the end of the second half, possession started to go more in Tottenham's favor, but there was always a feeling that Arsenal were dangerous, that we would convert one of our chances. However, the second half ended with Arsenal in a familiar position at 1-0 down.

The second half started with what looked to be a sure goal for Tottenham's Berbatov, but the Bulgarian striker had the ball torn off of his feet at the last minute by a game-saving tackle from Kolo Toure. Steed Malbranque had slipped the ball through to the feet of Tottenham's top scorer last season, and Manuel Almunia made a terrible mistake in coming out, but Toure saved his blushes with a perfectly timed tackle.

Adebayor then missed two golden opportunities at the other end. The first came after great work from Bacary Sagna, who cut a pass back only for Adebayor to fire over an almost open net. A few minutes later the Togolese striker was unable to win a one-on-one with Robinson as a perfectly timed dive once again stopped an equalizer.

He was not to be denied forever, though, and finally found the back of the net with a header off a Fabregas free kick.

Berbatov almost pulled out a winner off of a corner, with Gael Clichy blocking the ball on the line. The rebound once again fell to the Bulgarian, only for him to uncharacteristically head wide from only a few meters away.

It was Fabregas who pulled out the winner instead, powering the ball around Paul Robinson from a good 30 yards away after receiving a pass from Tomas Rosicky.

Darren Bent nearly canceled out the young Spaniard's strike, but shot horribly wide in a one-on-one with Almunia.

To compound the Spurs misery, Arsenal scored another in stoppage time. Adebayor, not to be outdone by Cesc Fabregas, whipped a superb volley past Paul Robinson in the 94th minute to seal the game.

A win against our arch-rivals to put us at the top of the table is enough to put any Arsenal fan in a good mood.