Tottenham Focus - North London derby shows need for creativity and patience
In a match probably overshadowed by a world record fee for Gareth Bale and more importantly a possible broken leg for Étienne Capoue, Tottenham went down 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium. In a North London derby lacking in the intensity that usually accompanies these encounters, Olivier Giroud’s 23rd minute goal enough for Arsenal to take three points.
This was always going to be a difficult match for Spurs. For all the criticism of Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy, Arsenal can still field a strong first XI. Whilst fans may understand coach André Villas-Boas keeping with the starting XI that had won their opening two games, with four new signings and two players back from spells on loan, for Spurs this match perhaps came too early in the season. This Spurs team is still acclimatizing to each other, getting to know each other and now the new signings have competed in their first North London derby there may be a greater understanding of its importance.
One of the effects of the new players was that Spurs played at a slower pace. This may be less due to the old generalisation that players coming from abroad don’t realize the pace of the game in England, but more that an extra touch and more time is taken to find a teammate until they get to know each other. Mousa Dembélé again looked subdued operating in the hole behind Roberto Soldado with just one key pass and two successful dribbles to his credit; Soldado appeared far too isolated to make an impact.
On the flanks whilst Nacer Chadli is still settling in, Andros Townsend is showing promise but is he trying too hard to earn his place? He is exciting and pacey but needs to get the balance between knowing when to pass and when to shoot. Neither were able to link effectively to Soldado. Townsend perhaps also needs to learn from Aaron Lennon’s defensive work rate.
Soldado’s isolation again highlighted the need for creativity but also urgency and drive to get forward from midfield. Fans may have been surprised that when Dembélé was substituted it was Jermain Defoe and not Lewis Holtby or Gylfi Sigurdsson who came on. Defoe is not the player to link the midfield to the attack. Holtby may have been introduced later but for the injury to Capoue following a poor tackle from Santi Cazorla, instead Sandro came on, along with Erik Lamela for his debut.
Spurs may have controlled possession and had the [slightly] greater number of shots but many of these came when chasing a late equalizer and overall Arsenal’s chances where clearer cut. An excellent performance by Hugo Lloris kept Arsenal to the one goal.
Lamela and Christian Eriksen should provide the creativity needed to get the best out of Soldado and as the new players get acclimatized to the league and each other Spurs’ play should become faster and more fluid. As that happens with the signings - paid for by Bale’s departure - Spurs should become stronger and mount a significant challenge at the top.
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