The Kerb Crawler chose to play Konchesky and King, both defenders, in midfield and hope for a lucky break. Arsene chose to start with Kanu and Henry up front and the remaining line up remained the same as of late. Halsey was the ref, on a hat trick with Sol and in a local derby to boot. He was as crap as ever, Halsey that is not Sol; Sol was totally in control.
Ray lead out the Gunners in short sleeves on a cold grey day, but at least the wind was blowing across the pitch from the east as Arsenal kicked off towards the Clock End. Kanu was bowled over early doors with nothing given, while the noxious little Taricco conned Halsey almost immediately with a dive. We’d played about five minutes when a pass was deflected to Sicknote in space and he slipped it past Lehmann for an unexpected lead to the Scum. 0-1. A great low drive from Thierry was the response but Keller who had a super match tipped it around for a corner.
I’m not sure whether it was Arsenal skill or the normal Scum thuggery but the match foul count finished with the men in white committing 22 of the 30 fouls that were blown for and about another 20 that were not blown for. Halsey got lots of stuff wrong including bookings, dives, corners, goal kicks, back passes and F A continue to get it wrong by allowing him onto a pitch with a whistle. Offsides featured quite a lot in this match and Keane gave an early indication of having the same tendencies as Wiltord in that respect. Wiltord incidentally didn’t even make the bench today; maybe he didn’t like Ray’s choice of short sleeves. Play-acting by Taricco got Parlour booked as the Gooners asked ‘Will you ever win the League?’ Pires to Henry for an almost moment.
We had quite a lot a nearly type moves, and quite a few more what the hell was that type moves. But also some great play as when Henry cut inside to let rip, but his shot was very well saved. All eleven back for Spurs for our corner. Taricco tripped Pires and Henry and Cole stood over the ball for the free kick. Henry took it but someone in the wall was booked for encroachment. On the retake Henry hit one with his left and was not too far away. Meanwhile at the other end Postiga tried to hit the corner flag but missed by about eight yards.
Fine work from Kanu followed with Pires finding Cole but his cross was too deep. Postiga tripped Ray. Gardner was all over Kanu like a nasty rash but Halsey doesn't understand that holding is an offence. Cole got Sicknote booked as the ageing Tottenham midfield treatment-room specialist arrived a fraction late in the tackle and Cole spectacularly avoided injury with some acrobatics. There was a good Henry head down from the free kick taken by Pires but it found no one. A clear handball not given. Great stuff by Kanu and on to Pires. Our Nigerian is in form, he looks to be controlling things well and is currently worthy of a place. Good punch by Keller from a Pires cross. Lauren then put us in big trouble but Jens was alert to the problem. I really like Lauren and rate him highly as a full back, unlike a lot of Highbury moaners, but today he was absolutely awful. I suspect that the whole totally unjustified four-match suspension thing had got to him.
Richards was seriously late on Henry for a deserved yellow card. An obvious corner from a Kanu shot was given as a goal kick. Good run by Ray. Carr caught Henry across the throat with an elbow and our man was seriously hurt and in danger of swallowing his tongue it seems from radio reports. Thierry was off the pitch but it was bad enough for a posse of medics to arrive at speed. Play had been stopped and this proved to be Halsey’s best call of the match, so I should at least give him that one. I don’t believe that Carr intended it, although Henry certainly wouldn’t agree with me as he made quite clear to anyone who would listen.
Henry to Kanu to Ray, but with no time to set himself he sliced his shot. The Scum closed fast in most of the pitch. Lauren set them up again in another near disaster scenario. Gilberto won a great tackle and had a free kick awarded against him. The assistant refs’ impersonation of blind Pugh was not helpful but he bottled in front of the Scum’s fans who were making the most of a rare lead against their superior neighbours. Tottenham leads at Highbury being about as common as rocking horse sh*t as you well know. Sicknote wasted their free kick. Kanu hit a brilliant left-foot drive which was not too far away. Kolo ‘give him the six shirt’ Toure saved the day at the other end. Another handball appeal in their box before the two minutes of added time. Half time and we were still a goal down, surely the unthinkable couldn’t happen could it?
An early Tottenham attack saw Sol clearing well but it could have been an own goal. We pulled all eleven back for the resulting corner. Sol was rock solid all match as was Kolo, where we didn’t boss the game was in midfield, also Ashley made some runs forward but not as many as usual. Ralph was off his game badly. The Scum continued to rack up the foul count as Arsenal bossed the second half. A Tiny Tott’s attack saw Kolo see off Keane with some ease. Taricco knocked over Freddie with Postiga trying to sandwich him from the other side. A definite foul and a yellow card was given, but this was far from being his worst which is why I just don’t understand Halsey. Pires’ cross won us yet another corner. Kanu was then bundled over for a free kick taken by Rob but Gilberto, who rose high, headed over.
A pitiful shot by Postiga before Kanu was caught offside at the other end. Playing offside against Arsenal is a dangerous thing to do but they persisted. An obvious Arsenal throw, right in front of us, was given to Tottenham. More good play by Kanu was followed by Lauren winning a free kick, but Pires failed to put it over their first defender. Lauren was still having a mare, I hate it when fans slag their own man off and won’t do it myself, but our full back was a million miles from his best form. There still appeared to be no one really holding the ball and running the game for Arsenal, it was all still rather helter-skelter stuff with just odd flashes of class. Even Sol gave away the ball now with a scuffed pass to Konchesky.
Arsene subbed early today and with twenty-eight minutes left pushed on Cygan for Lauren, with Kolo moving to right back. Dennis came on for Gilberto and this made our midfield almost instantly more fluid with the Dutchman operating mainly on the right. Campbell headed away for a corner. Keane was given offside when he wasn’t. Kolo on a blinding run down the right. Keane was offside this time, by about three yards. Good solo from Henry but maybe he was just a tad greedy to shoot as well on this particular run. Another handball appeal for Arsenal followed by an obvious back-pass that Halsey ignored.
With twenty-one minutes to go the Tottenham back four stepped up, well three of them did but Carr stayed rooted on their right while Henry sped through on our right. It looked a goal for Henry who aimed inside the far post but Keller made another fine save. This time however Rob was coming in from our left and calmly found the target. 1-1 and now Arsenal really took control.
Carr was all over Henry and another free kick resulted which was deflected for a corner. Another corner followed that off a good low ball in. At the other end Konchesky blasted a seriously awful shot nowhere. He was quickly replaced by a dirty little toad by the name of Mabizela who should be good for numerous red cards in the near future. Cygan stopped Postiga for a corner and headed that one away for another. A header went well wide from their second attempt.
Zamora and Ricketts replaced Postiga and Dalmat; this was the same Ricketts who left Arsenal when it became clear he wouldn’t progress beyond being 9th. or 10th. choice in midfield. Edu replaced Kanu, who’d done very well. Zamora was late on Cole. Keller meanwhile who had been impersonating a slow motion action replay when they were one up was now rushing around like a blue arsed fly. The limping Parlour hit a crap ball back. Parlour went down, but not just because he’d hit a lousy pass. ‘Hey Videos, you Scum, I wanna know were your captain’s gone’ (or something similar to Videos perhaps, maybe it’s my hearing). ‘Sol’s a Gooner’. Obvious shove on Henry by Carr not given as Halsey remained on another planet. Three minutes added time for Ray to limp around ‘Oooo to Oooo to be Oo to be a Goooonar’. Final score 2-1.
How very pleasing it was. The Scum will claim they played well, and they did by their standards. The Scum will also complain we were lucky because they always do, regardless. And indeed the deflection was lucky; but then again they were lucky to have Keller in such good form to prevent a rout. All in all we weren’t all that, but then again these days you don’t have to be all that to beat the no-hopers from the wrong end of Seven Sisters Road.
So there we go, we’ve played twelve games now and the Scum are already trailing us by eighteen points. Enough said.