27 September 2014

Arsenal 1-1 Spuds Player Ratings Poll

A pulsing North London Derby comes to a fitting close as Spurs, against the run of play, seized the lead in the 56th minute through a Nacer Chadlii goal. Arsenal, dominating possession and the tenor of the game, were caught on a short counter, the source of all of Tottenham's threats, and pounded deep and repeatedly at Lloris, who made several vital saves, one on a bulleted header from Per that prompted calls for goal-line technology to save the day. The equaliser came in the 74th minute when Ox blasted home during a scramble in the Spurs' box. Despite 69% possession, 16 shots, and 15 corner-kicks, we couldn't find that second goal to win it. Spurs will go home feeling vindicated after taking the point; we'll have more questions to answer about formation, tactics, and injury after again going behind and having to chase the game. For now, cast your ballots in the player-ratings poll below...

North London Derby pick to click: Danny Welbeck

A match like tomorrow's can usually be counted on to deliver some historic, epic moments, with players rising above whatever previous form they had been in. Of late, this has been more true of Gunners than it's been of Spuds, but form matters little when the stakes are what they are. With that as a backdrop, it's anyone's guess who will rise to the occasion. Players new to the squad and to the Prem, like Alexis, may struggle to fully grasp what's at stake, for as much as they say so, but I'm not sure whether an el Clásico is as fraught with emotion and drama as the North London Derby. Even if it is, it asks a lot of a player who exerted himself so much as recently as Tuesday to step to the fore. Therefore, I'm looking to Danny Welbeck to have a break-through performance.

25 September 2014

Supporting Tottenham: Destiny, or Fate?

There are some positions so preposterous, so beyond the pale, that we really must pause before passing judgment. After all, why would a person choose a position so likely to inflict injury, ridicule and worse on themselves? Vegetarians come to mind as one example of this kind of masochistic lot. Talk to one, and they will provide all sorts of convoluted explanations for how they came to (a) deny themselves such pleasures as bacon, pepperoni pizza, or steak and (b) subject themselves to the horrors of tofu, textured vegetable protein, and seitan?* So too it goes with supporting Spurs. Why suffer the indignity of being the kid-brother to Arsenal, beat up, mocked, and worse while denying oneself the glory of winning silverware? Do Spuds wear hairshirts and chastity belts, too?

Adebayor tries to get Spurs up for the North London Derby...

WHITE HART LANE—There was a nervous tension in the clubroom as the lads changed after bravely fighting to a stirring comeback win over Championship side Nottingham Forest, showing a never-say-die attitude that saw them through after going down 0-1 but fighting back to win 3-1 in fine fashion. Spirits were high; after all, the win would bring the club closer to silverware than it had been in lo these many years. Still, there was apprehension in the air, thick enough to cut with a carving knife, and into the breach stepped a man among boys, one who had brave both sides of the tempest. A calm settled over the room as Emmanuel, a name almost messianic in meaning, strode forward and held forth.

23 September 2014

Sorry, Poldi, but it's time for you to p!ss off.

Well, we're out of the league cup. Diaby didn't dominate as I had hoped, but there's an excuse lingering around the fact that he hadn't played much at this level since rupturing his ACL in March 2013. He failed to rise to the occasion, as did Wilshere, Rosický, and Chambers, among others. Most of them could look to the fact that they were seen on many occasions actually running if not with intent, then at least with intensity. Among those who played, only Alexis seems to have impressed, and not just with his smartly-taken spot-kick that left Foster flat-footed and flabbergasted. Sure, this was a patchwork quilt of a squad, one built to see what happens rather than take the match by the scruff. Even by that standard, the performance of Lukas Podolski was so poor as to leave only one conclusion: he's played his last match for Arsenal.

So we're out of the League Cup, are we?

Tough night, I guess, as we crash out of the League Cup in the third round for the second season in a row, having faced off against another Prem side and coming up short. At least this time through, it's to Southampton, whom I don't hate, but we're still out. On one hand, we might feel relieved. After all, we've removed a half-dozen matches from the list and can now focus on the Prem, Champions League, and FA Cup. Fewer matches, fewer injuries, less fatigue, and so on. That's not to be sniffed at. We fielded a mixed squad and got what we paid for. We can at least tease other clubs like Man U, who crashed out in the previous round to MK Dons (could we maybe recall Afobe?), Liverpool, who needed a total of 30 PKs to oust Championship side Middlesbrough, and Everton, who were dumped out by Swansea. Still, there's a part of me that wants to win each and every match, and I can't help but feel a bit miffed that we let this one slide. Ah, well. Upward and onward, I suppose. While you're here, I hope you'll take a minute to register your displeasure, disgust, or disinterest below...

22 September 2014

Arsenal vs. Southampton: Diaby the Destroyer's debut

All he did on Saturday was sit on the bench, an unused sub, for ninety minutes, watching as s a team that barely resembles the one he joined in 2006. Ironically, in a squad already ravaged by injuries—Giroud, Debuchy, Monreal, Walcott, Gnabry, and Sanogo have all been ruled out—Abou
Diaby may seize his chance. The league cup, already lower on our list of priorities, may have dropped even further as those injuries have forced us to refocus on the Prem and Champions League for now, and the FA Cup in January. We'll likely see a squad full of starlets and debutants, but the 28-year old Diaby may be poised to destroy the Saints even if the league cup is for them is their best bet at silverware.

Rivals's Wrap-up: what a wonderful weekend this was!

We could hardly ask for a weekend better than this one. What with our own convincing win, one that included Welbeck opening his Arsenal account and Özil finally awaking from his torpor, it might feel a bit greedy to ask for much more. However, 'much more' is what we got, as all of our key rivals dropped points. In fact, the only real blemish is that Man City and Chelsea drew. The way the weekend had gone, it might have been better for them to square off another weekend so that they could have lost on this weekend, just as Liverpool, Man U, Tottenham, and Everton did. That's right. the only quirk that prevented all of them from losing in the same weekend was that two of them faced each other. Let's get to the particulars, then, shall we?

21 September 2014

Villans 0-3 Gunners: Vote on player ratings...

So it's a glittering, shiny win with accolades all around...or does the scoreline unduly flatter and conceal lingering issues? Villa came in having conceded just one goal in its previous four matches, so did we thump a squad with real ambition or run riot over one that hopes to resist relegation? Such questions and others may weigh on your mind as you rate Saturday's performance in the balloting below...