Well, last night was one of those nights where getting up at 03:40 felt great and wholly worthwhile. The team played an outstanding first half and it was a bit ironic that our first goal was both set up and finished by two English players, considering the fact that Hairy Redknob had been saying before the game that we are a team that is bereft of English players. I am sure that Wenger will have been particularly pleased that it was two youngsters that finished the move. I thought that Lansbury, Gibbs and particularly Wilshere played very well.
The team was almost as I hypothesized yesterday, with Fabianski, Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs, Lansbury, Denilson, Wilshere, Nasri, Rosicky, Vela starting, the exceptions being Lansbury for Eastmond, and Wilshere for JET. The subs were Almunia, Sagna, Clichy, Arshavin, JET, Eastmond and Chamakh.
After being totally dominated in the first half, Spuds made two changes at the break and got immediate payoff when Keane scored an early second half goal that Fabianski really should have saved. He got a hand to it but it wasn’t enough. What made things worse was the fact that Keane was offside so the goal shouldn’t have stood. But, it was poor keeping really as Keane’s effort really should have resulted in a run-of-the-mill save. You do have to wonder how many chances Fabianski will get before Wenger decides that enough is enough. I can’t remember a game, off the top of my head, that he hasn’t made a mistake in which cost us a goal.
We were a little shaky for a few minutes after the goal but slowly came back into the game again and got back on top. As the game headed for extra time, Wenger threw on Chamakh and Arshavin. Then in the second minute of extra time Bassong made slight contact with Nasri, the referee gave the penalty and Nasri converted to put us 2-1 up. Just a few minutes later Chamakh was brought down for our second penalty and up stepped Nasri again to convert it. The game was over at that stage and the icing on the cake was the addition of a fourth goal by Arshavin. It’s strange watching a game when it starts at 03:45 because you have to at least try and show some restraint in order to not wake up all of the neighbours. But, on night’s like last night, showing restraint isn’t easy… It was funny to see just how few Tottenham fans were left in the stadium by the time the game ended. A sweet, sweet victory. I thought that Koscielny had a very good game and he continues to improve week by week.
The only black spot on the evening was the potential metatarsal injury to Gibbs. We should learn more about that later today so all we can do is cross our fingers that it is just some bruising and not a break.
Lansbury also had a very good game and it was interesting to hear Wenger compare him to Ray Parlour in the post-game press conference. If he can have the same kind of career with us as Parlour, then I will be happy. We need that kind of box-to-box player in our squad.
I’m sure that the Spuds hierarchy were scheming for the release of their latest DVD during the break between the end of the ninety minutes and the start of extra time. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Hehe. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see them release a DVD of the ninety minutes and celebrate the fact that they held us to a draw.
It was revealed by Nasri that the reason he took yesterday’s penalties and not the one at the weekend is that he had a superstition that it was bad luck to take a penalty if you are the person that wins the penalty. However, following the Sunderland game he had a chat with Wenger and Wenger explained to him that that superstition is a load of old cobblers. Though, if I remember correctly, wasn’t it a similar superstition that led to the Pires and Henry penalty debacle in front of the Clock End at Highbury a few years ago? Anyway, Nasri converted the penalty that he was fouled for last night and that should be good to help him put that particular superstition to bed.
Right, that’s about that for today. I’m going to sit down this evening and watch the game again, with beer in hand.
Take it easy.