Match Report: Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Well that wasn’t fun was it? Maybe for about 15 minutes it was but the rest of the game was hard to watch. Here is the brave Kenny Palmer with his report of the game.

Andre Villas-Boas Spurs suffered a resounding 5-2 defeat in the Portuguese managers first North London Derby in a game defined by the sending off of Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor.

A conservative and cautious manager by nature in his short tenure at Spurs, Villas-Boas sprung a surprise on everyone by picking a positive and attacking line-up pairing the team’s top scorer Jermain Defoe with Adebayor for the first time in the league. Nobody can fault the manager’s attacking team selection on this occasion or the attitude of players in the early stages of the game, where Spurs played on the front foot and took the game to Arsenal. The positive approach paid off as Spurs deservedly took the lead through Adebayor and shortly afterwards Aaron Lennon could have extended the lead flashing a shot wide.

Spurs were in the ascendancy and the dominant team unfortunately the game turned on its head in a moment of sheer madness and unprofessionalism from Adebayor when he lunged for the ball but caught Santi Carzorla on the foot producing a deserved straight red card.

Spurs have been brittle defensively this season with the fifth worst defensive record in the Premier League, shipping in  21 goals, so there was an inevitability that the team would crumble defensively once down to ten men. Without Scott Parker or Michael Dawson in the team there was no leader on the pitch to regroup the team to get them to half time with the score level, William Gallas may wear the armband but he’s certainly no leader! Its not a given a team down to ten men has to collapse. It’s a shame Spurs didn’t have the defensive spirit as Rennes who on the same day managed to beat the expensively assembled PSG despite having two men sent off!

Arsenal went into the half time break ahead with their tails up with even the most optimistic Spurs fan expecting the team to go into the second half deflated with their heads down and expecting to be on the end of a hammering! But full credit must be given to Villas-Boas who removed the two Kyle’s at full backs introducing Michael Dawson and Clint Dempsey and going three at the back. Far from being cowed the team had the bravery to attack Arsenal with Gareth Bale cutting the score to 4-2 and missing an opportunity to take the score 4-3. The Welshman’s overall performance where he took the fight to Arsenal, literally in the case when he faced up to Jack Wilshere in the first half in the melee when Adebayor was sent off gesturing to the diminutive midfielder he was a “shortarse”, confirmed even though he is still only 23, he is now one of the leaders of the team. Perversely although Spurs went on to lose the game 5-2 Villas-Boas can take many positives from the performance.

Such as the performance of Tom Carroll who came on for the disappointing Tom Huddlestone midway through the second half and didn’t look out of place. In his short reign at Spurs Villas-Boas has an adopted meritocratic approach to team selection which has seen youngsters like Steven Caulker break into the first team, dispensing with the previous regimes policy of favourites and being in thrall of the big names. Selection is based on what you do in training and on matchday. On ability and current form alone Carroll warrants a place in the team ahead of Huddlestone, Dempsey and Sigurdsson. There is nothing better for supporters than watching a player coming through the youth ranks and making an impact in the first team.

Spurs are coming into a pivotal run of games starting on Thursday when they face Lazio in the Europa League; a victory will more or less secure their passage into the knock out phase of the competition. Thursday s game is followed by a London Derby with an improving West Ham team on Sunday in the first of back to back home games in the league. Its important Spurs register a win to arrest a dreadful run of four defeats in five in the league losing the last three on the spin. Ultimately it’s a results business and Villas-Boas will be judged on the teams’ results in the league which has been largely unimpressive with the same amount of defeats (five) as wins, which aside from the win against Manchester United have been against the teams currently occupying the bottom four places in the Premier league. Performances have to improve as well as Spurs have still to put in a solid ninety minute performance in the league. Good news is on the horizon though with the imminent return of senior members of the squad Mousa Dembele and Scott Parker. Dembele’s physical therapist tweeted on Tuesday morning:

“On my way to deliver @mousadembele injuryfree to his club @SpursOfficial

It was also announced that Scott Parker is back in light training.

COYS

Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )