DEFENDING TOO DEEP, NO PACE AND NO PRESSURE: THE REAL REASONS WHY ARSENAL LOST AT SPURS by Uche
Hello everyone. I am sure you have read enough and heard enough about our loss against Spurs. Believe me, this article is not a pity party and it is definitely not a rant fest either. On the contrary, it is an objective view of what went wrong and the bright future we still have ahead of us.
I have read a lot of reviews myself about why we lost at Spurs. But so far, none of them really reflects what I observed watching that game. Per Mertesacker thinks we weren’t switched on to defend properly. But I don’t believe that because we defended from the first whistle to the last. In fact, we defended a bit too much and that is part of the problem. Some other reviews say that our players were poor and some singled out particular players like Aaron Ramsey, Lauren Koscielny, Hector Bellerin, Santi Carzola and even Mesut Ozil that scored for us. Again I disagree and I will tell you why. Some even said it was the early kick off time and while our history points to troubles with early kick off, I believe there are other major reasons why we lost.
Simply put, we defended too deep without pacy players to counter attack and without putting pressure on the Spurs team. If you watched the Man City game where we won 2-0, we played a totally different game. The temptation is to think we did the same thing at White Hart Lane and failed but it is not true. At the Etihad, we fell back and defended as a team alright but we did it differently. We weren’t so deep such that we had problems carrying the ball out of our own half when in possession. That is one of the big mistakes we made at Spurs. Pochettino’s teams are very good at working their socks off to close the opposition down and nick the ball from them, and we played right into their hands by dropping too deep and letting them have possession. Unfortunately, even the best boxers cannot win their boxing matches by dodging punches for twelve rounds without throwing any themselves. That is exactly what we attempted to do at Spurs because we had a paltry three shots on target for the whole game! We let them have the ball without pressuring them so they kept coming at us until we cracked. Ospina was brilliant and was also carrying a knock but we left him with too much to do.
When we played Man City, we let them have the ball but we did it with intelligence. They had possession but were not comfortable in possession. Our players chased after the ball and by putting pressure on them, they were unable to attack at will and we forced them into make mistakes at times and passing the ball sideways and backwards. And because we weren’t defending too deep, it made it easier for us to carry the ball out of our own half while counter attacking. But at Spurs, not only did we let them have the ball, we put no pressure on them and did not have the same pace and aggression at the wings that we had at the Etihad. Many say that the Ox and Sanchez were generally anonymous at the Etihad but that is wrong. If we had them against Spurs, the result would have been different.
Sanchez and Ox are aggressive, have pace and can dribble. So if there are two players that would have put pressure on the opposition and helped us carry the ball out of our own half when we had the ball, it was these two players. So their absence meant that we could not really execute the sort of game plan we had against Manchester City and I tell you what folks. When your tactics is poor, even your best players end up having a poor game. That is why none of our players really shone in that game. That game was crying out for Tomas Rosicky, our most energetic attacking midfielder. Tomas would have chased around the Spurs players and probably nicked a few balls in the process.
We left the ball for Totenham and made them look like Barcelona. Yes they are a decent team but nobody plays tiki taka like Arsenal. Ball possession is our strong point. I don’t know why we had to be that defensive. One guess is that Wenger was really scared of Spurs after they put five goals past a Mourinho led Chelsea side. That score line of 5-3 will scare the hell out of the best managers but then, we are Arsenal! We have a good team and are in good form. Our game against Aston Villa was so efficient and clinical that it is the equivalent of football porn. But our defensive tactics and lack of personnel to execute our counter attacking strategy against Spurs failed us.
But we learn every day. No team has won all their games this season. Going forward, the future is bright. We have many winnable games yet to play, mostly against inferior opposition. Against Leicester City tomorrow, I understand that Sanchez will be back and Walcott is available too. If we win that game, and we should, our recovery will enable us to cruise again and hopefully qualify for the Champions League. We have a good team with top quality players and up until now, we have been on a good run. We also have a good manager who sometimes gets his tactics wrong only because he does not want to lose. No need slamming our own too much. Real Madrid lost 4-0 against Atletico Madrid so if you think we had a bad weekend, the Bernabeu faithful will happily swap places with you. Manchester City, Liverpool, Man United and West Ham all drew their games. So we have not been left too far behind in our chase for Champions league qualification. Southampton is head of us with just three points. Qualifying will be hard but we have a better fixture list than our competitors.
Cheer up guys. I hated losing against Spurs but every team has had a shocker this season, some more than others. The future is bright. Have a good week.