Saturday’s game against Tottenham was as much fun as drinking a pee smoothie.
In addition to our extensive pre-match coverage of the game, we got our writers together for a short prediction on how they thought the game would pan out.
We didn’t do too well.
Lee Hurley Predicted Win 3-1
In my preview I said “If we turn up with the same attitude and self-confidence that we’ve seen lately we should simply have too much for Tottenham. Leave any of that back at London Colney and Spurs will make sure we pay for it.”
We didn’t turn up. They made sure we paid for it.
We never really got going and the pressure applied by Tottenham forced us into too many errors belying the nervousness that still lurks just beneath the surface of this squad.
I expect Leicester to pay heavily for the frustrations this game will have no doubt caused the team.
Helen Trantum Predicted Win 3-1
Well, fair to say that was disappointing.
I think all of us made our predictions on the basis that the Arsenal of recent weeks would turn up, and clearly that was missing.
As my Spurs-supporting boyfriend said, “you can beat us when you’re at 75% but we have to be at 100% to beat you” – well pretty much every Tottenham player played out of their skin whereas you’d be hard pushed to know a couple of our players were even inhabiting theirs.
On that basis, my prediction was so wrong it’s probably not even worth referring to.
We clearly came with a counter-attacking game plan (that was about the only bit I did get right!) and it bore fruit early on. Had we put a second of our first-half chances away then we’d probably have been praised the same as against City.
As it was we didn’t, and found it completely impossible to get around Tottenham’s initial five-second press when they lost the ball. Giroud had a pretty decent game actually, but until Rosicky came on there was no one playing close enough to him to take advantage of his flicks ons and chests down.
It was also with his introduction that we finally beat the first press a couple of times.
The Welbeck selection was a bit of a head-scratcher and he was clearly off the pace of the game. ‘What if’s count for nothing but I can’t help wonder if Danny Rose would have been quite so enterprising if he’d had to worry about who was getting in behind him.
Their goals came more from sheer volume of pressure rather than great quality – I can’t remember chances other than their goals which weren’t potshots from distance whereas at least when we did get forward we looked like we could score.
I won’t blame the ref – I think he had a poor game in terms of consistency and I can’t help thinking Ryan Mason’s pressing would have been a little less exuberant if he’d been booked significant earlier than the 79th minute.
Nonetheless this was a game in which we had the form, quality and motive to win comfortably, but played far too far below our top level.
It was more a case of our losing the game than Tottenham winning it. In spite of all that, we’re still just a point behind them, and we now need to bounce back fast on Tuesday.
Stephen Bradley Predicted Win 2-1
Saturday was a textbook example of how even the best-laid tactical plans can come undone when players don’t perform.
I thought we defended quite well, but it wasn’t the quality of Tottenham’s attacks that got the better of us, it was the sheer amount of them. Our inability to retain possession meant that we never had a chance to reset defensively, and they constantly took advantage of that.
Most of their pressure came from the fullbacks, which I can’t help but feel is where we missed the likes of Alexis and Oxlade-Chamberlain playing out wide.
In a system that requires constant pressing from the wingers, I’m not sure where Özil fits, despite him scoring.
Lots more questions than answers, that’s for sure.
Paul Williams Predicted Win 3-1
I was wrong and it sucks.
Our boys totally failed to get to grips with Spurs intensity yesterday and we paid the ultimate price.
Whilst the late winner was somewhat out of the blue, even the most biased Gooner couldn’t argue it was deserved.
Still, no need to go mental, 2015 has been largely encouraging.
For all Spurs cup final celebrations at the end, we could be back above them by Tuesday night
Sylvain Jamet Predicted Win 2-1
My prediction was way off as I did not expect a defeat against Spurs like everybody else.
Loads of things to work on in training for Arsene and the players and three points is a must against Leicester.
Lewis Ambrose Predicted Win 2-0
Well. I was wrong.
We did set up to counter but never actually did, sitting far too deep once the game started.
We didn’t do too badly at it but – unlike at City – never managed to relieve the pressure on the back four and we lacked real width or directness.
I saw some criticism of Santi but I don’t feel we actually used him often enough to break through the first wave of pressing.
Nia Griffiths Predicted Win 2-1
When I predicted 2-1 I was kind of hoping we’d be on the winning side…
I knew we probably wouldn’t keep a clean sheet but also thought we had the quality to pinch a win, even if it was a scrappy one.
Although we didn’t start too badly and mounted some exciting attacks – one of which we managed to score from – we never really got a proper handle in the game. By the second half, we didn’t look as if our heads were in it at all and we couldn’t even get out of our own half. Every clearance seemed like an effort and usually ended up going straight back to a Spurs player.
Spurs never stopped plugging and kept the pressure on right until the end.
However, hopefully our midweek game at home to Leicester will prove a good fixture to turn things back around.
Also, Ozil’s goal was quite nice, wasn’t it?
Andi Foster Predicted Win 2-1
I knew it was too good to be true, and on that note, I’ll continue on this stag do that’s loaded with flipping Sp*rs fans!
Sean Ferguson Predicted Win 2-0
Well, my prediction was way off.
We can talk about a handful of dodgy referee decisions but overall we were poor.
Not clinical enough going forward, they marked Santi out the game and others around him didn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Their first goal came from an Ospina error and the second was a decent header. I can only remember us testing Lloris a couple of times which isn’t good enough in a derby game.
We need a response against Leicester to get another run going.
Not much more to add to be honest.
I’m off on holiday.
Mark Fine Predicted Win 3-1
I try to keep a clear head about these things so as not to blow things too far out of proportion: We weren’t necessarily poor as Tottenham were persistently aggressive on both sides of the ball.
It might be cliche, but we may have scored too soon in this one. The mis-hit shot that allowed Ozil to score is exactly how to beat Lloris. Everything else was right at him or, as with Welbeck’s chance, just within his range to save.
We played our game fairly well. We started covering extremely well – nearly two men on every Spurs player with the ball in the first half – something I really like to see, and think we need to see more of.
However, Tottenham played our possession game against us with lots of pressure that seemed to intensify as time went on. That forced us off the ball a number of times, disrupting the flow of play, and causing us to be too defensive to mount a viable attack.
Having Theo start instead of Welbeck might have made the difference in breaking that up with a few long balls down-pitch, but there might also have been defensive consequences.
It did start to work once Walcott was on, but that threat seemed to disappear after their second goal, which took a lot of our steam.
Trust me when I say I have no pride in saying Pochettino got it right, applying wave after wave of pressure.
Not sure any of us could honestly say we saw this coming, nor want to see ever again.
Alan Knowles-Best Predicted Win 3-0
We scored first, managed to play one of our worst games all season and Spurs only just managed to squeeze past us. It wasn’t ideal but with the run-in left for both sides my money is still firmly on Arsenal to finish above that lot once again.
Wenger got his tactics rights, the players just didn’t quite pull it off.
Winnie O’Blindt Predicted Draw 2-2
Am I psychic? I just might be as I predicted “You just know that that lot will perform out of their skins just because it’s Arsenal and I’m still not convinced that we’ve got the right ‘mental strength’ to deal with it. Losing Sanchez was a massive blow because he gets the rest of the team trying to match his work rate and while we’ve looked better at the back recently, we all know there’s a defensive howler just begging to be set free.”
Then again, if I was psychic I’d have got the score right but I did say that we’d only get a draw if we were lucky, which we weren’t.
It’s so very typically Arsenal to not to bother to turn up when they are finally expected to.
Losing to that lot is so humiliating.