Mixed Feelings After Excellent Performance At Wembley

Online Ed: Arsenal take point from visit to Spurs

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Aaron Ramsey scores at Wembley for Arsenal again... for the final time

It’s a pick the bones out of that one kind of 90 minutes. Arsenal played far better than they have managed away to a top side than on way too many other occasions in recent seasons, and ultimately, had the opportunity to take all three points. We wait to see how much the missed penalty, taken by Aubameyang at the beginning of five minutes of second half injury time will cost the Gunners. However, on paper, this was Arsenal’s most difficult fixture of the ten that remained in the Premier League, and I suspect most fans would have happily settled for a draw were they offered it before the game.

It could have been very different though. Things started very well for Unai Emery’s side, in a not quite sold out Wembley stadium, when Alex Lacazette put Aaron Ramsey through on goal and the Welshman took the ball round Hugo Lloris to slot it home. Pandemonium in the visitors' section and thoughts of another Ramsey Wembley winner, although it was very early.

Spurs were generally denied by far better defending than we have seen from Arsenal for a while, as Emery’s players were evidently under orders to focus more on stopping their hosts than the creative side of the game. It was perhaps significant that an orthodox back four was played. Monreal got the nod ahead of Kolasinac on the left and Mustafi was played at right back. Sokratis partnered Koscielny in the centre. Both Sokratis and Monreal had outstanding matches. Sure, it wasn’t perfect - there were times when a solid challenge from the players in front was notably lacking - but it was a definite improvement. Spurs did get the ball in the net with a typical Kane header from a free kick, but the flag went up for offside. Near the end of the first half, Benrd Leno made a fantastic double save when a goal looked almost certain.

For the most part though, Arsenal nullified their opponents. I was expecting more goal threat, but there were not too many nervous moments. The award of a penalty for Spurs should have seen an offside flag raised instead, although that doesn’t excuse the lunacy of Mustafi’s shove on Kane to concede it. What was interesting was that in the aftermath of Kane converting the resultant spot kick, there was no period of huge Spurs pressure with Mauricio Pochettino’s side going all out for a winner. Arsenal took the sting out of the game through solid defensive work and the occasional threatening situation at the other end. Emery’s team had as many good chances as Spurs – not that there were too many at either end.

As the 90 minute mark neared, Aubameyang was brought down in the area and his team was – even though it was a very soft penalty - given the chance to secure the three points their performance probably warranted. The number 14 has never completely convinced me from the 12 yard mark, and his effort was pushed away by Lloris. The ball came straight back in from wide, but Aubameyang’s efforts to right his wrong were foiled as his close range effort was blocked by Vertonghen on the line. TV replays suggested the latter should have been done for encroachment and the spot-kick retaken. Roll on VAR? If it had been used yesterday, neither penalty would have been awarded.

The only real subsequent drama saw Torreira sent off for a late tackle, which might explain why he didn’t start the game and only came on after 45 minutes. A passionate player, exactly the sort that gets red-carded in these type of fixtures. His challenge was definitely to get the ball but regardless of that was reckless. With Guendouzi and Xhaka both fit, it simply means that the Uruguayan will be used in the two European matches that will be played on the next two Thursdays. Emery is in rotation mode anyway, so this just makes his selections easier. With the huge gap between Arsenal’s matches against Man Utd and Newcastle though, it means the Uruguayan will not kick a ball again in the Premier League until April 15th. This assumes a three match ban for a straight red card. By then, if his team progress past Rennes, Torreira will have played in the first leg of the Europa League quarter final. At least one assumes he will see some match action in the international break.

I was surprised at how flat the home crowd was. I did not attend this fixture last season, but wanted to experience what Wembley was like for Arsenal as an away side to Spurs. It was far from the cauldron I expected based on visits to the Lane. They made plenty of noise when the penalty went in, and a bit more when Aubameyang failed to convert his, but that was about it. We wait to see what kind of atmosphere their new stadium produces.

In the bigger scheme of things though, Arsenal remain four points behind Spurs but due to Manchester United’s late win over Southampton, are now in fifth place. An ongoing theme in my pieces is the progress toward the 76 points mark that I believe will be enough to secure fourth spot. Arsenal now has nine matches left to attain a further 19 points that will give them the 76. In honesty, the result against Spurs was actually a bonus. If there are two matches one could see Arsenal losing (and they can afford to lose two and draw two of their last ten games), it was yesterday and next weekend’s visit of Man Utd. I do still think Emery’s side could make the top four even if they did lose next Sunday’s match, but it would certainly make their lives easier if they won it. There is no doubt that it will be viewed by most as something of a decider between the two clubs, although that does a dis-service to Chelsea who are still very much in with a shout.

Let us hope we are not ruing that penalty miss at the season’s end…

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13
comments

  1. peter wain

    Mar 6, 2019, 12:45 #113365

    at performance should have been enhanced by a win. The scum were dreadful and I do not see why Kane is not penalised more when disputing Lloris's goal kicks. As for the officials clearly VAR cannot come quickenough.

  2. Exiled in Pt

    Mar 4, 2019, 13:12 #113355

    I thought the referee had a good game as far as we were concerned although thought he was wrong with the Torreira tackle but the game is becoming a non contact sport ! The lino was the man who missed the offside. Just from the look on Auba's face you knew he was not going to score !! Shame as on balance of play i thought we deserved the win but would of settled for a point before the game .

  3. itsRonagain2

    Mar 4, 2019, 11:16 #113352

    draw seemed fair i thought. 2 issues. Auba s pen was never a pen in truth. A red card of diving was more appropriate and his effort to score from it was pathetic. Kane - as big a diving cheat as ever one could find in that PL. It ll never be recognised though as hes a native any more so than Gerrads cheating and diving was never acknowledged. Sainthood prevails!

  4. peter wain

    Mar 4, 2019, 07:46 #113350

    good performance and but from some bad referring decisions we would have won comfortably. The scum looked jaded and our tactics were spot on. I assume now some one else will take the penalties as I was never confident of Auba scoring.

  5. mbg

    Mar 3, 2019, 21:18 #113349

    Yes the missed pen, especially in the dying minutes made it feel like a defeat it was so close, we played so well and deserved to win, and what about the double save from Leno, world class. Yes we feel robbed but have to feel happy too we're on the up again and hat can only be good, come on Emery.

  6. KC38

    Mar 3, 2019, 18:20 #113348

    Great performance, there is every reason to believe Emery is working to a better future. His flexibility based on the opponents is so refreshing after the last few years. Big concern is his continued selection of Xhaka, the guy is a liability and should have seen at least a yellow if not red early in the game. An absolute danger to his own side, this summer should see the removal of him and Mustafi 70 million pounds wasted by Wenger. Let’s get chambers back as well.

  7. nozzer

    Mar 3, 2019, 15:15 #113347

    I was pleased with the teams performance yesterday. However it's when we are away at Southampton, west ham and Brighton that we need to deliver. If we take 3 points Sunday that will be huge not just for the confidence but for us as supporters. It will be interesting to see what lessons unai learnt from the cup match. It's great to see a manager on the touchline kicking every ball. The spuds are imploding. Poch's ramblings to the press are bizarre. That feeds to the players. Third place is up for grabs let's grab it. Spurs new ground is made for Europa league football

  8. GoonerRon

    Mar 3, 2019, 13:16 #113346

    Overall I feel proud of our performance and slightly hacked off that we didn’t win. Our chance conversion was off the charts in the first half of the season and it’s definitely levelling out now, that’s for sure. Did you notice before our goal Kane was in our box and made a really unnatural movement with his feet to try and manufacture contact from Monreal behind him? Proper sly blimp tongued prick. Torreira will have no chance of getting the red overturned because of this bullshit ‘endangering an opponent’ nonsense that referees hide behind these days. If you enter the field to play a CONTACT sport everyone is endangered FFS. Anyone with half a football brain knows he was trying to hook the ball away, which he did successfully well before getting anywhere near Rose (who shouldn’t have been on the pitch if he was yellowed for his dive and at least second yellowed for his double footing Leno in the chest). We were so in control before their pen that is was a game-changing decision, and a terrible one at that. Our pen was a poor decision too in fairness. This should have been a brilliant 0-1 away win but for stupid officiating, ably assisted by Mustafi’s latest brain fart. I’ll calm down soon I’m sure.

  9. ArsenalMagna

    Mar 3, 2019, 13:04 #113345

    Our clash with United will be really pivotal now. I am predicting that they sit back, happy with a draw, and we go for the win and get counterattacked successfully, as with the FA Cup. United surely favourites for 4th place now, particularly as they'll likely drop out of Europe and have less fixtures (can't see the FA Cup draining them too much, and they have Lukaku as a more than reliable 'back-up'). I actually think this squad is good; it could maybe do with a few top-quality signings, but we have younger players who could fill the void AND we're maybe starting to see a rethinking of doctrine from Emery to give the defensive side of the game better doctrine, which is the most important thing.

  10. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Mar 3, 2019, 12:21 #113344

    A very Arsenal (as I like to remember them) like performance, Ian Wright in his prime would have had the match ball. Leno's double save confirms he is a real talent and Mkhitaryan's performance is beginning to make the Sanchez deal much more favourable to Arsenal. Personally finishing 4th is not the be all for me, as others have stated, we get in the top four then with the extra cash we buy some more 30million pound players who will not make us world beaters. Finishing 5th or 6th means no extra money and perhaps our quality young players might just get a chance.

  11. GeorgeBung

    Mar 3, 2019, 11:14 #113343

    Good to see a solid defensive display and a first away clean sheet should of been realised but for the lino. On another day we could of won 4-1 so more positives than negatives. We just need to be more consistent. LAHK

  12. RobG

    Mar 3, 2019, 10:05 #113342

    Very, very frustrating because we should have won it. But there you go ; and a point is a point. Let's hope it's the one that secures fourth come May. Given we have - by my reckoning - the sixth best team/squad in the Prem', Emery is punching above his weight, to get us close to top four. It hints at what we could do, if he gets the support to remould the team further in the next two windows and specifically this summer.

  13. John F

    Mar 3, 2019, 09:04 #113341

    As you say Kev it was a point I wasn't expecting but I feel like we were robbed by some really poor officials who just could not do the basics.There was at least 3 spuds offside for their pen and surely encroachment is what you are supposed to look for in penalties.Xhaka was lucky to stay on the pitch but so was Sanches for his stamp on Kos and Danny Rose for kicking Leno.Having said that there is no excuse for the poor decision making by Auba and Mustafi.On the positive side I thought the teams tactics were spot on and I was pleased that we did not have a Wenger style collapse after they equalised.It appears that Dick has leant lessons from the City and Liverpool games but Utd will present different problems as they will be the team set up to counter attack.