The way I see it - Arsenal v Tottenham

Last updated : 29 October 2009 By Jason Hogan

Watching the game against AZ last week, I surprised at my own reaction to seeing victory snatched away from us right at the death. In fact, I was rather philosophical about it and found myself simply shrugging my shoulders and thinking that such a scenario was anything but a new one to us in Europe. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind, the anguish I would have normally felt was extinguished by the fact that we were still very much in control of our group and, in spite of how things turned out in Holland, our European destiny is very much in our own hands.

However, the contrast in my mood last Wednesday and last Sunday couldn't have been more marked. We have all heard the phrases "Once bitten, twice shy" or "Lightning doesn't strike twice". Well, the Arsenal were certainly guilty of allowing themselves to fall into the same trap for the second time in four days at Upton Park.

I was absolutely livid at the final whistle and whilst I'm not a religious bloke, the things I was saying out of sheer apoplexy after the game, would have shocked the average churchgoer to their very core on any day of the week let alone on a Sunday!

If I had my way, every single Arsenal player would have been fined a fortnight's wages on the spot. After all, you win together and you lose together, don't you? And, in my humble opinion, the players were all guilty of showing a lack of professionalism derived from a misplaced sense of arrogance and complacency.

For all our qualities, the fact is we are not set up, as a team, to win games by playing on auto pilot or by doing just enough. We are not a team that plays by percentages and over recent years it has been proved on a regular basis that we are not streetwise enough, often enough defensively.

We have to be honest and determined enough to stick to what we are good at - Passing, moving, creating chances and hopefully scoring a bucketful of goals on a regular basis. At Upton Park, though we played generally within ourselves throughout really, we were guilty late on of forgetting (or even maybe not respecting) all the things we are good at. A casual approach eventually gave way to sloppiness which in turn gave way to carelessness and ultimately the concession of two points.

Despite the fact that Sunday events were still gnawing away at me, I really looked forward to our Carling Cup tie with Liverpool. Whatever people say about the Mersey Men, games against Liverpool in any competition always seem to have a special kind of mythical symbolism about them where I am concerned.

The fact that I was tuning in to watch some of our youngsters strutting their stuff once again also almost provided me with a sense of momentary sanctuary from the normal routine of things even though I knew the press and the media would still regard Arsenal as being very much there to be shot at as we are every single time we play.

I do gain enormous pride at seeing our latest crop of youngsters taking on all and sundry in the Carling Cup. In a football world which has becoming increasingly obsessed with the belief that you can't win anything without having a wallet the size of some billionaire oligarch and financial doping (as Wenger would call it) I sat back, relaxed and watched curiously to see what the Arsenal could do.

Whilst I knew Wilshire was injured, I was genuinely surprised that the likes of young Coquelin and Frimpong were not in the team. Coquelin is a boy I am pretty excited about. You know what it's like when you feel that someone has something about them? To me, he definitely fits in that category.

Another guy that caught the imagination in the lead up to the game is Fran Merida. I never subscribed to the view that he was the "next Cesc Fabregas" or anything like that. I like to allow players to establish their own identities but with him being sent back and forth on loan, I was curious to see how the boy had developed.

Merida certainly had a good night, as did Arsenal on the whole. His strike for our first goal was opportunistic, instinctive and a moment that the boy will surely never forget as long as he lives. Although Liverpool responded with a goal equally as spectacular as Merida's, it was Bendtner who won us the tie and therefore sent Arsene Wenger and Arsenal into their seventh Carling Cup quarter final in a row. Considering the fact that we are accused in some quarters of disrespecting the competition, I would say that is not a bad stat at all.

Going back to Bendtner for a minute, it was almost apt that he got the winner in a funny sort of way. Up until he scored early in the second half, he invariably did a passable impression of Abou Diaby and was looking our prime weak link. Still the way he took his goal almost epitomised what an enigma he is. If he continues to have bad games yet pop up with a telling goal that will suit me just fine.

Aaron Ramsey may have been named man of the match but, being someone that tends to go for the not so obvious, I thought Craig Eastmond was outstanding. He normally plays as full back and as I said earlier I was surprised to see him playing the midfield holding role at the expense of Coquelin.

But considering the fact and indeed the way Eastmond was thrown in at the deep end, I thought he was excellent in the way he nullified the threat of both Plessis and Spearing in Liverpool's midfield and he would have got the award if it were down to me.

And of course, Wednesday night heralded the return of Samir Nasri. Ah, it was good to see the lad back in the park. To tell you the truth I thought his performance was a fitful one and he is capable of influencing a game much more than he did. But hey, the boy got through 90 minutes and he has the potential to be some kind force when he gets up to speed, fitness wise.

Now it's time to move on to this Saturday. I'm not going to sit here and try to teach grandma to suck eggs. We all know who we are playing, where we stand in relation to them in the table and in the case of Robbie Keane, exactly what they are saying.

All I will say is this. The first team may not be faced with quite the same kind of scenario as Liverpool were faced with prior to their meeting with that lot from Old Trafford last week. But in the wake of the results against AZ and particularly West Ham, I feel that for their own psychology, self esteem and ability to move forward there are only two things that matter - Redemption and Victory.

The implications of the result, the media reaction and the local bragging rights which come with it, can wait. As I said earlier, the way we win games is by staying faithful to the things we are good at not neglecting them and, in spite of the occasion, I want to see us do that.

Some of the lads have come out publicly and said they let the boss down. Well, guess what? We fans were bloody let down as well. By around a quarter to three on Saturday, I expect the Arsenal to have delivered their atonement.