You win some and you lose some. That’s how I’d describe the Tottenham result in the pragmatic light of the rearview mirror. We came up against an in-form team on their home ground and betrayed our lack of form by crapping the bed in defense. To be fair, Spuds were much less dominant than they appeared by scoring twice in rapid succession. They could easily have fallen victim to the same silly mistakes that we did - if you don’t believe me and haven’t already viewed Gary Neville’s excellent dissection of the North London Derby, give it a look:
For the first 20 minutes we appeared solid but ultimately we chose to play a high, disorganized defensive line and paid for it, full stop. Also, as has happened so frequently this season the usual suspects forgot their shooting boots; more on that in a minute. To say that this result has shifted the balance of power in London is perhaps a bit hasty, what with our 13 league titles, 10 FA Cups, and record 49 domestic games unbeaten streak. Have you ever seen Tottenham win the league?
You win some and you lose some, but then you win some but actually lose some, like in Munich. It’s a rare treat to come to Bayern Munich and not only win but hold the Bavarians goal-less. Much like against AC Milan last campaign, though, we created a situation where even a big win amounted to an aggregate loss by being so porous defensively in the first leg.
This fixture put Wenger into a Catch-22 of sorts. He could have rested most of the first team knowing that it was a dead rubber match in order to prepare for the top 4 fight (Wild, right? Throw a competition match to try and help qualify for said competition next season...). Alternatively, he could have fielded the strongest possible team in the hopes of overturning a 3-away-goal deficit. As intimated in the previous post, my preference would have been for the former. Give the younglings some experience, give the senior squad time to rest and get their handbrakes tuned up for the rest of the season, and let’s get on with the run-in. Either choice would have been frowned upon by one clique of supporters or the other.
Thanks to injured, cup-tied, and “rested” players, what we ended up with was a weird hybrid of these two possibilities, with a memorable but meaningless result as the prize. My hope is that this win will restore a bit of pride and put some fire in bellies to round this campaign out properly, starting with some Swan-hunting at the Liberty on Saturday. Come on you Gunners!
PS: I’m pleased that €hel£ki and Spuds are still in the Who-ropa League (that slight will bite me in the ass when we are in the competition next season), mainly because it offers them more opportunities for weakening and fatigue. I’m a bitter, opportunistic old man.
Interlude On Theo Walcott:
Young Master Walcott signed da ting on 18 January 2013. Notice anything about his production after the ink dried, particularly when February rolled around? I had to glance at the team sheet periodically during the NLD and remind myself that he was in the starting XI. Perhaps typical. Definitely frustrating.