Arsenal simply bottled it against Tottenham and we need a stronger spine

The moment of Truth. by ArseOverTit

So, one of my posts on GoonerP’s article during the North London Derby was ‘this is the moment of truth’…

Because of the fact this was a North London Derby that also happened to be a fight for the much-coveted 4th place and Champions League we could not afford to lose. Especially considering how close we are in the table to each other.

So, what is our truth? Well, this is how I see it.

Arsenal for too long has buckled under pressure when there is actually something to play for. We just don’t cope with pressure that well. Our game goes to pot very quickly if and when things don’t go to plan, and this is about having the right personnel. Holding of late, to be fair, has played solidly in defence, however his antics during this game were just crazy. Yes, another ref might have been more forgiving, but Holding from the start was intent on getting to and disrupting Son (whether at his own or managers strategy) as much as he could. Problem was, it was obvious and clumsy.

Rather than focus on what he should be doing: defending our goal and doing so professionally, he got personal, hot headed and messed up by being carried away with the atmosphere and task. Someone else said it; and that was that they would be amazed if Holding stayed on the pitch much longer, having thrown Song over his shoulder on some Brazilian Jitsu manoeuvre.

Cedric didn’t have a particular good game either and tried being too clever for the penalty and then gave the ball away cheaply after having just given our opposition the massive foot up on the ladder to what was an almost mailed on victory.

I wouldn’t mind, but the first 15 minutes we pretty much bossed it.

But as soon as we had helped our bitterest rivals the best we could with the pen and the sending off, suddenly players like Elneny go blind and can’t see a man in a white shirt in front of them before they play a gentle tap pass squarely.

So, what I’m saying in no uncertain terms is; we bottled this game and the opportunity to cement our place in 4th, because we don’t have a strong enough spine in our team in terms of dependable players and leaders who deliver, and have the character not to capitulate.

Questions could be asked on whether the manager could have brought off Holding to ensure we didn’t lose him to a red, but that for me is a minor point.

The biggest thing for me is bottle. This comes from real men who are experienced and seasoned at their art, and I feel that although we have some brilliant youth, we also have older players who aren’t that gifted or inspirational, and our spine is inherently weak.

As Arsenal Fans we have been spoilt in terms of some of the players that have donned the red and white shirt and cannons, but we are sadly nowhere near this. Can’t imagine Tony Adams or any of our famous backline being so ill-disciplined and stupid to single handedly give the opposition help in victory.

Two games to win to secure 4th place and not give it away and I’m not convinced we won’t, since, after all, there is something to play for.


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Video – Mikel Arteta on Tottenham, the referee and bad news on Gabriel

Tags Tottenham v Arsenal


  1. The game was obviously rigged, because the penalty decision was soft and Holding’s second yellow card was dubious. Holding just raised his elbow slightly and Son’s head wouldn’t have hit it, if Son didn’t go down

    We were dominating Spuds for at least twenty minutes and pinning them down in their own half, before the referee’s bad decisions ruined everything. Arsenal should’ve complained after the game, because the video evidence clearly showed that Holding’s second yellow card was a big mistake

    Our dominance makes me confident for the remaining games, as long as the officials don’t make highly questionable decisions again. Holding deserved his first yellow card, but hopefully he doesn’t get discouraged by the unfair decision and the fans’ backlash

    1. Gai,
      Yea I am happy our midfielders and frontline had no injury in the game to be ready for New Castle. My worry is how Arteta will adapt his defense against a much improved New Castle away. If Tekehiro had played right back probably the penalty by C Soars would have been avoided and he would have also helped Holding against Song. I hope the coach gets his formation right on Monday. We need to qualify for 4th spot to make Spuds win irrelevant and also silence Conte.

      1. Arteta and the coaches have successfully trained the players with the 4-3-3 formation. It will take some time to make the players use other formation effectively, so we’d better stick to 4-3-3

        I’m not worried about Newcastle, because they’ve got nothing to play for. I’m just afraid of another big mistake from the referee

    2. I was expecting some bad refereeing decisions to go against Arsenal in that game as usual. So, the players should have been aware of the potential too and be more careful. That penalty was soft. I have seen worst and not given, e.g., McGuire on Tomiyasu (United vs.Arsenal) and city goalkeeper on Odegaard. I think it’s about time Fifa have a thorough investigation into the premier league’s officiating. The most competitive league with the least competent referees and match officials, who are often influenced indirectly by pundits and commentators. Some of their decisions are made from personal bias and preferences as they lack consistency. With that said, there are no excuses for Rob Holding’ s stupidity and he must be sold now. Arsenal down to ten men was never going to able to compete further in the match. It’s over, Arsenal must now focus on winning the next game by any means necessary. Only winning the last two games can secure top four finish. Arsenal did not bottle, just another early refereeing f..k up to give Tottenham the advantage.

      1. pretty obvious the ref thought there was a handball when there wasn’t so VAR and commentators had to scramble to make up a reason the ref would make that call. Shady refereering has been a regular thing all season. It’s pretty obvious some results are intended to go certain ways.

      2. Yes, I’ve also seen worse fouls against us in the penalty box and we weren’t awarded penalties

        Saliba and Jesus would likely come in the summer, so we might need to sell our non-homegrown players instead of Holding. I also feel Holding is a natural leader and might be happy to stay as a squad rotation player

    3. Oh dear GAI, you still will not learn! A persecution complex and a silly and incorrect rant against a ref who was, if anything, far too lenient on the idiotic Holding, ill becomes a Gooner who has a brain.

      I have therefore to conclude you have a very faulty brain or else no brain at all.

    1. Ha! It could be a blessing.

      Obviously financially it would be a hit and in terms of player pull it would hurt but part of me can’t help but think we would only make up the numbers…

      That said, we need to get there if this club is to reach new heights and stranger things have happened in football..

      But I do get that at this point we are nowhere near a well rounded enough team to even dare compete with the likes of Bayern, City, Liverpool and Real Madrid and even some of the second tier teams.

      1. Most of you guys said that arsenal have a better squad than spurs bar Kane and son
        If 6/7 of our players can make spurs 1st eleven how come you are saying we are not ready for champions league football but spurs are
        The way I am seeing this is just another excuse for failure. We have a strong 1st eleven and expected to improve our weak areas come summer
        What is the logic behind us not been ready please someone should explain to me..

        1. I’m not a one for excuses generally and I myself ( this guy) never said we had a better squad than Tottenham. As your asking I don’t think we do.

          They have Kane, son, the other guy whose name begins with K and is Russian sounding;), berwijn, moura to bring on.. they have dier at the heart of defence and Hojbjerg in front…

          All better than we have (barring the kids) IMO.

          As I said in the article we bottled it and I don’t unlike Arteta think the ref list is the game;)

          1. Mr down is not being forthright. There may be a few who have suggested that Arsenal have a better squad (or more likely better first team even though that is clearly arguable) He has cherrypicked these comments to arrive at his ‘most’ comment.
            Arsenal have some good players in key positions but there are a number of weaknesses and inadequate cover in several areas. What many people would suggest is that Arsenal probably have more players who have yet to reach their full potential and have a very ceiling. Also, at full strength, Arsenal would be a serious challenge for any team in the league.

    2. 👍or the trials of playing in Europe generally. At the mkment Arsenal is only playing once a week domestically.

  2. ArseOverTit partially agree with a lot you said but unfortunately as I mentioned yesterday which didn’t happen our boys will become men….the night and the spuds were to hot for us.
    A total disaster of a game for us and especially against the spuds and how important the game was for both sides.
    The team have stepped up in recent weeks and didn’t bottle it..chelski away man u West ham
    Believe the manager got his tactics wrong before the sending off as you could see it happening before our eyes. A good leader on the pitch would have help by having a word in holdings ear to calm him down
    This is why winning at all cost pretty or ugly is essential to us a team and I much prefer the 21 win feeling rather this sour depressing mood I am In today
    2 to go and still In our own hands
    We are the arsenal so we do it the hard way
    Onwards and upwards

    1. Yes, seasoned campaigners (who are also skilled at their craft!;) and leaders are needed.
      Undoubtedly the youth will grow and learn (hopefully) but our chemistry and makeup is not that well formed in team or squad. That’s MA and teams job.

      Hopefully we will get a big window.

      1. AOT
        the last 2 games will define and shape next season
        Top 4 and we will be able to attract and pay for better quality players
        Europa and we slightly push forward
        The spuds or us will be playing catch up again who ever fails take top 4
        Hopefully it is them but as you said BOTTLE
        I would have said character and inner belief but basically the same 😄

  3. In Arteta’s rebuilding project there is meant to be ups and down and a learning curve. Yesterday’s lose is painful but is part of learning process for both our inexperienced coach and players. Conte experience showed yesterday and the naivety of our players was also visible. Liverpool were 2:0 down first halve away to Villarreal but the players because of their experience didn’t panic they came back and won. We have all to play for against New Castle and top4 is still in our hands. Hope Arteta get his formation right and play to the strength of his players.

    The coach got his formation wrong against Spuds. Holding is best suited for 3-4-2-1 used against Chelsea..
    Also if Tekehiro had played his usual right back he would have help Holding against H.Sung but then, we are short on the left.

  4. Last night proved a few things. Firstly, even our “so called” experienced players show a lack of maturity. Secondly, the youth project, code named “Trust the process” should be reconsidered if we are serious about wanting CL football. The fact is, Arsenal were never expecting top four. It’s only because of Manure’s terrible form and Leicester’s implosion that Arsenal are in the top four. With the Spuds having an equally topsy-turvy like Arsenal we now find ourselves fortunate to be so close to CL football next season. The problem is, when you consider how many goals we have given away due to ill-discipline and silly mistakes, it makes you realise that poor coaching is just as much to blame as the individuals that cause them. We have some great youth. Especially Saka and Martinelli. ESR is another gem. But with air heads around them who prove week in week out that they are not “up to standard” will only kill their confidence and belief in the “Project”. We need players with proven experience in this team. Battlers, not bottlers. We also need a manager who can adapt and change the tactics when the games change or demand it. I’m not sure I would feel to bad about Europa football next year. In fact I would accept it. It is what we wanted at the beginning of the season. But, the fact that we may very well relinquish 4th position to our fiercest rivals in the way we have done would be a massive smack in the mouth. Made worse by self implosion (again)!

    1. I hear this line quite often – we are only close to top 4 because other teams have stumbled.

      If we win our last two games (obviously a big if) we will finish with 72 points which is more than the fourth placed team in five of the last seven seasons.

      Were all those fourth place teams in precious seasons simply fortunate?

      1. It’s like the statement “There were only two teams in it” when Arsenal and manure were going at it hammer and tongs.
        They simply had the best players, managers and tactics at that time.
        Conteh proved he is a top class manager last night and they deserved the win.

      2. I also hear many of these kind of lines.
        It’s also easy to point at poor coaching. However, neither Klopp nor Guardiola is going to turn Cedric in a top class right back.
        If we made Xhaka available today which of the top 10 teams in the PL would be rushing to sign him? Yet many on here have been saying that he has been an important part of recent positive results.

  5. A game to forget, MA should take the players to the next level by preparing them for the next match. Players selection is the most important decision at this point.

    We need our defence back and choosing the right players to fill these position, I’m talking about Tomi as a RB and Tavares as LB if they are ready OFC.

    I still believe that we deserve to be in CL with this young team.

  6. Nothing new or complicated was revealed in that game against Spurs last night. If we had Tomi on the right, Tierney on the left, and White in the middle then I think we at least get a draw., of not a win. The problem is that Arsenal lack strength in depth and while the 1st-choice 11 are fine, things are much less fine when a few injuries occur. Also, although Nketiah had a few good games lately, he is basically a like-for-like replacement for Lacazette and we still need an out-and-out striker that can put away 20 goals a season, and Nketiah is not that guy.

    1. 👍fair assessment, Yossarian. The squad has been shown to be too thin for domestic competition, let alone Europe as well.

  7. Agree totally we bottled it. The game was as good as over following yet another red card. We have by far the worse record with picking up reds and it’s a huge worry that our coaching team are failing hopelessly in their attempts to eradicate this reckless tossing the game away behaviour…..makes me wonder if any effort is being made at all to correct this. It’s as good as throwing 3 points away.

  8. The team isnt ready for CL and the manager definitely isnt!!!!!!! But ww still have it in our own hands. The problem next year is we will have four competitions to concentrate on and not just one.

  9. I feel Arteta should restore Tomiyasu to the right and play Tavares on the left. It is not fair for Tavares to be kept on the bench just when he had started regaining form. Just see how much he contributed in the short time he was on the pitch.

    1. As a converted striker/winger I’d love to see Tavares on the field every week but as a defender and someone who can pass to a team mate I’d rather he stay on the bus:)

  10. Our starting XI is pretty decent, maybe needs 2 or 3 better players. The problem is our bench. Tavares, Cedric, Holding, Pepe aren’t good enough.

    I hope we buy 2 or 3 top players, and replace the below par subs. With Saliba coming back, we have a decent backup for White and Gabriel, maybe keep AMN for 1 more season as a backup to Tomi and buy a better backup to Tierney, as he is injured too often so we would need someone closer too Tierney’s level

  11. The last time I checked the EPL table we are in the 4th position and two matches to go I believe Arteta and the players have done well to be in this position.let us have positive believe to encourage them to win the remaining matches.I don’t like so much negativity this is not time for blame we are still in control of our destiny.

  12. Arteta OUT
    Edu OUT
    Vinai OUT

    Veira IN or Ancelloti IN
    Luis Campos IN
    Wenger IN

    So that’s new manager, DoF, and CEO

  13. Tomiyasu would have done a better job in deleting Son than Holding. The cach bottled it. The formation was wrong. Please, if we are to win Newcastle match, let’s go back to 3 man defence – 3 4 2 1 formation. I believe that getting champions league is better because it will attract quality players and help keep our young stars.

  14. Hmmmm.

    I rememebr with 17 EPL games to play, out of all other competitions, people were amazed that MA didn’t buy in January.

    The squad was seen as thin then, but the rationale was to reduce the wage bill, prepare for the future. So it’s hardly surprising that when injuries hit to players like Partey and Tierney (and White to a degree) that results are also hit

    The fact is that the players being criticised wouldn’t normally be playing. I’m pretty sure at the 17-games-to-go point that the objective was EL not CL, so to be in a position to clinch 4th by winning the last 2 games is over-performing.

    If only it weren’t Spuds who’d get 4th 🙁

    Look on the bright side – people like Conte don’t hang around long anywahere. Sooner or later he’ll either get a better offer or he’ll have some kind of spat with the board.

  15. Holding was an idiot, deserved to be sent off.

    The penalty was wrong though, Holding was looking at the ball as he moved backwards to try to get his head on it – he had no idea someone was behind him and anything he did to Son was minor and made no difference to the play.

    The elbow does look deliberate. The same applies, Son sees the ball launched and turns to run – he has no idea Holding is there or where his elbow is – and as soon as his head truns Holding’s elbow is in his face. There’s a clear movement from Holding’s elbow although he may have been aiming to shove his body. It’s not really clear that there was any contact with the head.

    But if you give people a chance to con the ref, they’ll do it in this game, where cheating is seen as normal and acceptable.

    It answers the question as to Holding’s suitability for a top side. He needs to move on in the summer, bring Saliba back.

  16. we have a good young core, but we don’t have any relieble experienced players who are of goog quality and can be leadrs of our young core, exept for Partey. Any other above 25 years old we have bar Partey is mediocre. This is the real problem is out squad.

  17. I think alot of people are missing the point of getting back into the Champions league this season saying we aren’t ready etc… ofcourse we are not ready & how can we be when this is the 1st time with the new youth project they have experienced the challenge for Top4 & most have not played consistently or at all in the champions league In our 1st 11;

    Øde (not really though)

    The guys that have played like Tierney, Partey & Laca are injured & off form for the latter just like Auba then he was shipped out. Gabriel & Pepe probably did with Lille

    But by being in The Champions League we have a bigger budget to push on even further with the rebuild, plus being able to us the lure if UCL football in London at Arsenal FC to buy known young stars to take us to the level to where we will be ready!

    Let’s beat Newcastle Monday then Everton on the last day. Its Ironic if we draw to Newc, Spurs beat Burnley and we both win our last games, Eve/Norw, then we will lose out by a point to Spurs just like Emery did the last time we messed up a chance like this.

    If we do mess it up its the 3 losses to Palace, Brighton & Southampton that’s to blame when we were playing well & had of won those then be a different ball game but we learn as fans what this team needs and Mikel, Staff & Players all learn as they are all inexperinced even at this level of a Top4 push.

    1. The biggest concern for me has been that Arsenal did not strengthen in the last transfer window even though I accept it may have difficult to get our preferred targets. The lack of options is proving to be a big problem.

  18. Honestly guys most of you are deluded. Just be honest with yourselves and admit Spurs were by far the better team (and support) on the night. Everyone else thinks so. Stop blaming the referee and look in the mirror. The buck stops there. Arteta just made an Arse of himself in his post-match interview – it was embarrassing.

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