Spuds U don't like!
Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
The Cowabunga Cup returned with the midweek visit of the old enemy and a chance for Arsenal to get a tap closer to a Wembley Final. Not high on the list of silverware required for Unai Emery by most Arsenal fans, but a 'momentum match', a loss to avoid. That feeling was reflected in the team news which saw Xhaka back in the defence, a back four this time and quite a strong team.
Arsenal: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Xhaka, Monreal, Torreira, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Ozil? not even on the bench, not injured but tactical according to Emery. Which speaks volumes, if he's not trusted in a North London derby or 'tough' away games, when can he be trusted? Burnley at home? I feel a January transfer looming!
If Arsenal creaked and spluttered against Southampton then playing another game three days later did nothing to calm the nerves. Spurs could smell blood and this game would have been totally different if the chance created for Arsenal in the 12th minute had been put away. Ramsey sent Mkhitaryan through, he only had the keeper to beat but his effort was tame and the keeper made a save, a really poor miss and another one to add to the list. A real Marmite player, will score difficult chances but miss real sitters, and this miss ultimately proved costly.
Iwobi was misplacing final passes and Spurs were starting to turn the screw, they had the momentum and looked the more likely. So it proved in the 22 minute, a long straight ball, Sokratis slipped, and there was Son who beat the offside trap and curled it beyond the onrushing Cech. Xhaka? missing in action. 1-0 to Spurs.
Sissoko had a chance to make it two as gaps appeared in the Arsenal defence on 33 mins but blazed over, at the other end Ramsey had a toe poke well saved and tipped onto the post after an Iwobi assist.
Half-time 1-0 to Spurs and stuff to do for Emery.
The change came in form of a formation switch to back three, Koscielny on, Mkhitaryan off. Confusing for the players I think and it showed. Spurs were just playing on the break, soaking up the pressure waiting for that moment to kill the game off, Arsenal were huffing and puffing and not really threatening the keeper. Only a free kick from Xhaka which was blazed over, at the other end Erikkson was beginning to grind through the gears.
The sight of Mr Potato Head coming on in the 58th minute made the butterflies flutter and it didn't take long for him to make an impact. Sokratis looking for help as Kane controlled the ball in the middle of the pitch but Xhaka did neither jump or challenge, one quick chip over the Greek international and Ali was through on goal. The Spurs player easily looping the ball over Cech, 2-0 and for me game over. Another poor goal to concede by a defence thats been thrown together, with players coming back from injuries or playing out of position.
Lacazette had an immediate chance to get one back but hit the post, then Aubameyang in the 76th minute crossed and it hit the bar. An embarrassing "ooooh" from the home fans! A fluke of a chance. And that was it... revenge for Spurs. 2-0.
Other things to mention, some bloke threw a plastic bottle at Ali...
Stupid fan and will probably be banned.
Positives: Arsenal don't have to play Chelsea twice in a two legged semi, or Man City in the final (good luck Spuds).
Negatives: That creaky defence and wastefulness in front of goal.
Cech: Could do nothing about the goals. Steady. 6/10
Maitland-Niles: Did ok but not a right back in a four or a wing back. 6/10
Sokratis: Struggled with no partner to speak of. 6/10
Xhaka: Just stop it, a CM not a CB. 5/10
Monreal: Got forward well. 6/10
Torreira: Worked hard. 7/10
Guendouzi: Needs to come on from the bench for Burnley. 6/10
Mkhitaryan: Did little to inspire, missed a sitter. 5/10
Ramsey: Got the chance to be Ozil, didn't really come off. 6/10
Iwobi: Zilch again, no end product. 4/10
Aubameyang: Ran his socks off but didn't trouble anyone. 5/10
Lacazette: Looked threatening. MOM 7/10
Koscielny: Could do nothing to paper over the cracks. 5/10
Nketiah: Could do nothing stuck out wide. 4/10
Next up Burnley at home and a must win. Team selection will tell Arsenal fans everything, will Ozil become another 'saga'?