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“Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams” – W.B. Yeats

Having stayed busy all day in order not to have to think about the game, around 7pm tonight, my thoughts began to turn to the great North London derbies at the predecessor to The Armitage Shanks. Of course, May ‘71 will live long in the memory whether you were there or, as in my case, were probably tucked up in bed by kick off time; December ‘78 and the 5-0 at the Lane with Brady scoring THAT goal; ‘04 and the ridiculous way that their fans treated a draw, meaning that we had won the league, as if they had achieved anything at all.   Then again, it hasn’t all been good. I was there in April ‘83 for a 5-0 drubbing followed by more than a gentle jog back the mile to Seven Sisters encouraged, as a fox by a pack of hounds, by their sweet-smelling fans. Which set of memories would be added to tonight?

The teams came out and I was delighted to see an unchanged side from the defeat of Leeds, with the return of Ben White to the bench adding weight and strength there. For their part, they were missing Romero, who has been talked up by the media and recalled Sanchez to take his place. For the first time in a while, our bench also looked the stronger with theirs seemingly populated by a series of unfamiliar names.

We started brightly, pressing them all over the pitch which was encouraging. They performed a trademark break in the 5thminute with Kulusevski being well marshalled by Gabriel and resulting in some petulance on the part of the former when he didn’t get a penalty. In many ways this was to set the tone of the evening.

Arsenal continued their bright start and in the 8th minute fashioned a chance for Saka who unfortunately slipped over. Is it me or do our players tend to slip more than others? Perhaps we can hire a studs coach to ensure the right level of grip on the pitch. I am only half joking. 

In the 10th minute, we had the first of the tussles, you can’t really describe them as more than that between Holding and Son. With Tomi playing left back, it seemed to me that Arteta, rightly, did not want to allow Son time to turn and run at Cedric so Holding was tasked with pushing right up on him when he received the ball back to goal in midfield. Son of course used this first coming together as an opportunity to roll around as though hit by a sniper when in fact it was some minor contact from Holding. Manc miserabilist Gary Neville tried to talk this up on Sky commentary, as he would and again, the tone had been set..

A couple of minutes later Son, not being allowed to get his own way, deliberately tried to wind up Holding, after some more handbags, with Holding laughing at him. Once again Neville, the high priest of fair play himself, said it ought to have resulted in a booking. This is the Gary Neville who kicked Reyes off the park. The referee was by now beginning to climb into Son’s pocket, perhaps encouraged by the vociferous crowd. 

In the 15th minute, we had an excellent break resulting from a superb ball inside the Tottenham right fullback from Xhaka to Martinelli, but it came to nought, followed in short order by a booking for Davies in the left back position deliberately clamping on Saka, having been nudged off the ball by the former and preventing a run towards goal.

Slowly though, the pendulum began to swing their way and in the 20th minute, the referee correctly gave a penalty for a pretty crass push in the back by Cedric on Son, who, clearly thinking it was Easter, had risen from the afterlife following his previous rolling around on the floor to get into a great position for a header from an excellent cross.  Kane took it and the result was never in doubt.

1-0 Spurs.

The 25th minute saw the renewed battle between Holding and Son this time resulting in a booking for Holding, with which I won’t quibble. Holding should now have been advised to minimise contact. The goal and booking had us rattled and we began to revert to sloppy play, losing the ball in poor positions as they pressed us, with Tomi making an excellent tackle to block a shot from Kane on 26.

Then the night was well and truly decided as in the 32nd minute, Holding was sent off. An aerial through ball towards Son was clearly going over both his head and that of Holding to the keeper, Ramsdale. However rather than simply watching it, Holding stepped across Kane and appeared to lean into him with his shoulder. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Son took this as his cue to roll around and the inevitable second yellow was brandished. The referee could have simply given a foul since the ball was clearly harmless and the contact was not exactly that of a Roberto Duran right hook. However, he had by now been conditioned by Son, and in fairness Holding’s impetuousness did nothing to alleviate this, to see it as a serious foul and so the die was cast.

It was then only a matter of time and Kane scored a goal from a corner, crouching to nod in a knock on, with Eddie sleeping rather than tracking his man. We had gone to pieces. 

2-0 Spurs

We staged a brief attempt at a comeback shortly before half time with what I believe was our first shot on target in the 42nd minute by Nketiah, followed by an appalling hash from Odegaard after splendid work from Martinelli in the 44th.

Half Time Sp*rs 2 Arsenal 0

The players came out for the second half and most noticeable from my perspective was that there was still no sign of Ben White. Perhaps this was Arteta mentally consigning the game to the dustbin of history. I prefer to hope this is the case, rather than that White is not yet fit enough to play. Either way, we started like an old Austin Morris after it had been parked in a field for 30 years with the lights on and conceded another soft goal in the 47th minute to our nemesis, Son. If the game were not already lost, it was now. 

Spurs 3 Arsenal 0

In truth there was little to talk about in the second half, beyond the fact that Gabriel had to go off after 79 mins with what looked like a hamstring strain. As if the evening hadn’t already treated us like an unwanted guest.

Final Score Spurs 3 Arsenal 0


With Gabriel going off injured, Holding banned and White seemingly not rated as fit enough, we are struggling for Monday night. At the end of the season the chickens are coming home to roost in terms of squad size, but let’s remember we have made considerable progress this season even to be in with a shout for 4th place. The other concern is that the squad needs to be smarter. Holding has been around long enough now to know what Son is all about and that the combination of noisy crowd, known play actor and weak referee would need to be managed. These are the kind of issues which the manager now has to deal with, having got rid of nearly all of the dross and built an excellent team spirit.

Onwards and northwards to Newcastle.


37 Drinks to “Disappointing Night At The Lane.”

  1. 1
    Cynic says:

    Thanks for the report. I agree with most of that but think Holding deserved his second yellow, for stupidity if nothing else.

    Few typos in that but we’ve all been their 😉

    Struggling at the back or not, if we can’t beat a team relying on the likes of Almiron for goals, with Joelinton its best midfielder, we need a good shoeing.

  2. 2
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks Cynic. Typos all my own work as I know Bath wasn’t able to cast his beady one over it. Apologies. Re Holding, if stupidity were sufficient for a sending off, no football match would end with more than 10 players on the pitch.

  3. 3
    Bathgooner on the hoof says:

    Finally had a moment to read the blog. Entirely accurate analysis, CER. I always felt this might be a Lane too far for this young and depleted squad. Hopefully some of the lessons you identify will be learnt.

  4. 4
    Countryman100 says:

    Well done CER. Having to write the report for a game like that is definitely the shitty end of the stick. My mind is already heading North up the A1 for what will be a tumultuous game against Newcastle. It’s still in our own hands. Courage mes braves!

  5. 5
    ClockEndRider says:

    Thanks Gents. I thought Arteta did the right thing in the post match interview as well. Classic managerial misdirection a la Ferguson, Mourinho, Guardiola etc. take all the stick on himself and draw it away from the players.

  6. 6
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Excellent and fair report of a crap game CER.

    It made no odds, but I was a bit miffed that Hojberg got a free kick instead of a yellow card for treading on Saka’s ankle. They got a corner from it, and scored the corner. Fine margins.

    Still, 2 wins and we are into the Champs League, so it’s still on us.

    Arteta played a blinder in his presser. Us Vs Them. Siege mentality. Hard done by. Etc.

    Just what we need.


  7. 7
    Cynic says:

    I felt the opposite on Arteta, you won’t be shocked to hear that though. Felt he came across as a bit of a cry baby, making excuses for a weak performance. Still think it was a mistake to give him that contract, as if they still blow the top four when it has been in their hands twice it will be unforgivable, but it’s done now.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    Excellent and fair match review, CER. Respecting your and Cynic’s judgment I watched the clip of the penalty incident linked at arsenalist , three or four times, and Jim Beglin the commentator points out Cedric’s push in the back that I had not noticed, which in slow motion looks considerably worse than anything I spotted with the naked eye. On the NBC commentary I watched live Arlo White and Lee Dixon we’re just as flummoxed as I was and never explained adequately the reason for the foul. I still think that foul is more often than not overlooked by Premier League referees, but now I at least understand the call. Thanks for your level-headed perspective, and onward to Newcastle.

  9. 9
    Doctor Faustus says:

    CER, A match report of perfect tone with exquisite balance, much better than the bizarre and egregiously unfair match itself.

    And Trev, apologies for not commenting on your typically mirth inducing and insightful preview. That photo alone should be a necessary reference to all Arsenal supporters. 🙂 The Spuds too could learn a thing or two about themselves …

    The team will be ready to shake off the disappointment of this result and be driven by a sense of injustice. They did show a lack of savoir-faire in some key moments but with a team this young that’s more than expected, precociously matured though these youngsters are. We are still two good performances (and balanced officiating) away from making it back to CL, and right at this moment looking forward to those two games is all I would like to do.

    This was never going to be easy…

  10. 10
    North Bank Ned says:

    A beacon of reason in a sea of discontent, CER. Your match report honours the Guv’nor’s memory, cool-headed but clear-eyed.

    The two main points of your conclusion are well made.

    I remain unconvinced by the penalty award. There was contact between Soares and Son. Yet Son’s body shape after that doesn’t look to me like the result of being shoved in the back.

    Arteta has a big job to do getting what is left of the squad in the right frame of mind for Monday night.

    Darkest before the dawn, and all that.

  11. 11
    Pangloss says:

    Excellent report CER, though having seen neither the match nor much other reporting I can’t comment on its accuracy.

    I think we’re all being a little hard on Arteta. At the beginning of the season, never mind the beginning of September, I certainly thought this was a transition season with the squad overhaul only half complete, and I imagine that most other clear-thinking fans would have agreed.

    I suspect that I also wasn’t alone when I didn’t expect our leading goalscorer to throw his toys out of the pram in so effective a manner as to need us to ship him out prontissimo in January leaving ourselves seriously short up front. The fact that we have nonetheless got ourselves into a position where qualification for Big Cup is within our grasp with two games left is nothing short of remarkable.

    Forza Arteta
    Up the Arsenal

  12. 12
    Cynic says:

    When I say “a mistake” @7 I should have said premature.

  13. 13
    Trev says:

    Thanks CER, a fine measured report on an evening that could not have gone any worse.

    Sky Sports’ consensus was that Son was clever. My consensus, consisting of me, is that he is a scummy, serial, play acting little cheat. When Sky asked him whether Holding’s second yellow was a foul, he laughed out loud and said ask the referee.

    Anyway, we all saw it. Holding should have given him just enough space so as not to be able to keep finding the contact from which to hurl himself to the ground. The referee was entirely unable to cope with the crowd and VAR Mike Dean was never going to step in to do us any favours.

    No clear and obvious errors ? I guess that would be apart from Hojberg standing on Saka’s ankle and our same player being shoved in the back, off the pitch and into the advertising, which in my book is dangerous.

    Two more wins for us and it will all mean nothing anyway.


  14. 14
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for an excellent, balanced report. One never knows when we respond to C100 if we are to report on a triumph or a disaster . Last night was definitely the latter. I had been ridiculously nervous about this game and I think Arteta set the team up wrongly . Son had space to run into behind Holding and we kept far too high a line . Brighton showed how to set up against the Totts. I hope Burnley have the video.
    My own take was that while it was technically a penalty , if you give those you must give half a dozen penalties a match, minimum. Holding was a walking red card from the kick off and he was very stupid ( probably very annoyed too). I’d always feared what Son and Kane might do to us. Add in the febrile atmosphere in the Toilet Bowl and a weak referee and we were doomed.
    We have two winnable games but both are tricky . S***s have a challenge on Sunday especially should they go behind. Norwich is a bye for them . We need a lot of character to bounce back . We have a great record at SJP and superfan C100 will be there ( gasping after scaling the North Face of the Eiger. The Totts are now favourites in my book but when did that matter?

  15. 15
    Bathgooner says:

    With time now to re-read and savour this excellent match report (I will not be re-watching the match), I should add that it is truly Faberesque in its objectivity, sound analysis and conclusions.

    As Pangloss observed, few would have suggested that our position pre-kick-off of already having secured a Europa League place and being within 90 minutes of securing a CL place and simultaneously achieving St Totteringham’s revival was a given at the beginning of this season. Whether we go on to take that CL place or not, I think Arteta has had a successful season and has earned his new contract.

    I do think the squad is light for us to be competitive in the CL and whilst I recognise th considerable financial benefits therein will easily console myself that we have taken major steps in the right direction this season and will be capable of a competitive charge in the Europa League.

    I accept the argument that being in the CL will make us more attractive to many players eg Tielemans who say they want to sign for a CL club but I am an arrogant enough ‘old skool’ Gooner to say that I would rather we sign players who want to sign for the Arsenal and want to win things with us and take us into the CL rather than secure a CL ticket through the efforts of others.

    Now, let’s win the next two. Whatever it takes.

  16. 16
    21st century gooner says:

    We lost the battle but we will still win the war

  17. 17
    ClockEndRider says:

    Many thanks is for the kind words in the report, All. In order:
    Pangloss@11 x I certainly wasn’t trying to impugn Arteta. It was frankly impossible for anyone to have turned around the supertanker overloaded with dross and low expectations any quicker or on any better order than he has done. I am glad we signed him up for longer and look forward to his stewardship.
    Cynic@7 – well agree to disagree in the amicable, we’ll argued, logical yet passionate way that this bar was set up to engender. Long May it continue.
    21CG – Glad to see you back in the bar, having no doubt fought your way from the SU bar all the way to your phone to make the comment. Your comment is suitably laconic. You’d have made a good Spartan. See you for Everton.

  18. 18
    Ollie says:

    I am not sure I have the heart to read a match report. So thanks for the effort CER.
    Watched the game on a stream in my hotel room rather than go out and well…I should probably not have bothered.
    The penalty was the softest of the soft (in fact I was furious), but can’t argue with the reds. Mindless from Holding.
    Somehow we are still just about in pole position for fourth, but it’s gonna be tough.
    No ‘1-1 in Newcastle’ please, unless for the joke…

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    At the beginning of the season, if you had offered me finishing in 5th, I would have taken it — and probably bitten your hand off for it after the first three games. Now we have had a Pisgah-sight of fourth and even third, anything less would feel like a disappointment. I will cling to 21CG’s faith that we shall reach the promised land of CL football but will honour Arteta for his work on this team-in-transition if we come up short.

    Trev@13: If the Sky pundits praise Son for being ‘clever’ — and their admiration for any player who cons the ref and, even more, gets away with it seems boundless — that says more about the Sky pundits than it does about anything. And not in a good way.

  20. 20
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned , I loathe this one dimensional translation of the Italian term “furbo” as clever. The direct translation misses out a whole raft of cultural associations which pertain to latlnate European nations which are not germane to Britain.

  21. 21
    Cynic says:

    For clever read game smart. Or, dare I say it, cynical.

    Cedric was stupid. If he’d timed it better he would have got away with easing the player off the ball and he’d be the clever one. But he was dumb.

    Holding was just stupid. Son had him nibbling almost from the first minute and he didn’t cheat to get him sent off, he just gave him the rope he needed to hang himself and Holding duly obliged.

    Whenever we get a defender booked, it drives me mad that we usually get that nibble then withdraw the bait and don’t bother him again. Saka should have been after Davies all night after he got booked and he never got him at it again.

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks CER, as others have said it’s a a very fair report. We were a bit unlucky on the penalty I thought as I’ve often seen those not given. Anyway, on to Newcastle it is, but before that I hope Burnley chomping at the bit about now.

    I have seen Tomi play both right and left centre back for Japan, he did fine as usual but Asian World Cup Qualifying games are not the PL.

  23. 23
    Las says:

    Thanks CER! Excellent report considering the circumstances. Fair and measured.
    I think it was the crow the cheese and the fox again. I don’t like complimentary article on us on the BBC before a game like that. It feels like obituary. To be honest I don’t want us dying beautifuly but rather park the bus and win ugly.
    And I also think MA he should have known better as we all knew how Sp.rs will play out the game.
    But we are still in the driving seat. Go and get Newcastle.

  24. 24
    Cynic says:

    This is NFL related but if anyone’s interested, it reveals a bit about how Stan Kroenke engineered moving the Rams out of St Louis. Billionaire in “Not to be trusted” scandal is hardly news but it might be of interest.


  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@20: I will defer to you on furbo’s cultural connotations.

    Conte is just a sly old Fat Sam with a couple of world-class goal scorers.

  26. 26
    ClockEndRider says:

    Ned@25. Spot on. A more upmarket Ranieri.

  27. 27
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cynic@24: Thanks for the link. Those posting in the comments seem angrier at the NFL than at Kroenke.

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    We are about to announce a cut price deal for Marquinhos , a 19 year old Brazilian winger playing for Sao Paolo. He has been in first team contention for the whole of this season and is a Brazilian youth international. Brazilian journalists are suggesting we have.
    ‘robbed’ Sao Paolo as we are paying £3m and his value is much higher . The suggestion is he will spend next season on loan unless he immediately impresses Arteta

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    So what would signing Marquinhos say for the futures of Balogun, Edwards, Biereth, John-Jules and our other tyro strikers coming up through the ranks?

  30. 30
    bathgooner says:

    Ned, he’s a left footed winger. An understudy and back-up for Saka and Martinelli.

  31. 31
    TTG says:

    I echo Bath but it may be ominous for Pepe and Reiss Nelson .

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@30 & TTG@31: Thank you for that. I suspect Pepe and Nelson’s geese are cooked, regardless.

  33. 33
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Tonight, for one night only, never to be repeated, I am a big Burnley fan. May the force be with them.

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    What is PGMOL’s objective with VAR? What is the point? They have created an unrecognizable competition defined by the amorphic implementation of its rules.

  35. 35
    Gooner_KS says:

    Shocking and unacceptable, what a disgrace. I’m sure someone here will say we keep blaming the refs.

  36. 36
    OsakaMatt says:

    Burnley gave it a shot, should of fired Dyche earlier. The penalty was absurd of course but apparently correct as the laws stand.

  37. 37
    Pangloss says: