There’s nothing quite like a north London derby.
Especially when we lose.
Arsenal arrived at White Hart Lane later than planned having been held up by traffic on the way to the ground due to an accident and some police nonsense which was hardly the ideal way to prepare for the game, but Arsene Wenger, speaking before the match, refused to blame that for anything that might happen.
Making one change to the team that tore Villa apart last week, Danny Welbeck replaced Theo Walcott, presumably for the former’s better work rate.
The game started as many of us expected – Arsenal conceding possession to Spurs, happy to sit back and look to hit on the break.
Despite this, it was Arsenal who fashioned the first chance as Nacho Monreal broke down the left and crossed to no-one in the Spurs box.
From that move, Tottenham broke and Harry Kane, who found plenty of room down Arsenal’s right, was able to get a good shot from the edge of the box that produced a great save from David Ospina who injured his thigh in the process. Thankfully, he was able to shake it off.
It was Arsenal, however, who struck first.
Chasing a through ball, Welbeck skinned Danny Rose on the right then played in a cross to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman got his shot completely wrong but the ball fell to Mesut Ozil who was in an acres of space inside the Spurs box and he produced a cool sidefoot finish as he glanced across to the linesman expecting a flag hit the back of the net.
One nil to the Arsenal.
From there Spurs upped the pressure and their pressing game started to force mistakes from Arsenal.
Danny Rose, also finding lots of space on Arsenal’s right, had a shot that required another Ospina save but despite Spurs having umpteen corners and most of their possession on the edge of the Arsenal box, it was the Gunners who looked as if they might score when they went forward.
Arsenal had held on to the break despite Martin Atkinson booking Arsenal players for Tottenham dives while allowing Ryan Mason to kick his way around the entire pitch. [More on that in our referee review on Sunday.]
Arsenal had managed two shots to their 11 with only one on target – Mesut Ozil’s goal. Hugo Lloris had nothing else to do other than pick the ball out of the net.
Tottenham started the second half on the front foot with a wild shot coming from Bentaleb not long after the restart and Spurs kept the pressure on Arsenal as the game looked like it might settle down into a similar pattern to the first half.
However, it took Arsenal just under four minutes to force Lloris into a save as he tipped Santi Cazorla’s shot from outside the box out for a corner and Arsenal were able to exert some pressure of their own for a few minutes.
For all their defensive solidity, it was to be a corner that would be the undoing of all Arsenal’s hard work. Despite Ospina producing a quite brilliant save, Ramsey lost Kane at the back post and he had all the time in the world to pick his spot from about five yards out.
1-1 and Spurs kicked it up another gear straight from the kick-off, Ospina pulling out another great save before it went up the other end for Lloris to do the same from Welbeck.
From the resulting corner Laurent Koscielny had a free header that he should have done better with, firing it straight at the Spurs keeper.
The game was buzzing and it was impossible to call as it swung end to end.
Ospina was called into a action again as he twice denied Tottenham, once from another long range effort and then immediately after as Kane, who was offside, followed up. Arsenal were living dangerously.
Time for a change and Wenger brought Tomas Rosicky on for Cazorla who hadn’t been as instrumental as we’ve come to expect recently.
Despite more pressure from Spurs, Arsenal were still looking dangerous on their forays forward, Giroud no doubt annoyed that he didn’t do better with his free header after Ozil found him from the left with 15 minutes left on the clock.
A few minutes later it was Theo time, replacing Danny Welbeck who had created for Ozil via Giroud and performed well, even if he was a little rusty after his month out.
From a corner, Arsenal had a stonewall penalty shout waved away as Nacer Chadli hauled Per Mertesacker back in the box. How it wasn’t given is beyond me, but Atkinson didn’t even take the time to wave away the claims.
Quite what happened for their second I don’t think many know as it seemed to come from nowhere. Floated in from Arsenal’s right, Kane out-jumped Koscielny to head it back it he way it came, giving Ospina no chance with less than five minutes remaining.
With two minutes remaining, Chuba Akpom was brought on for Coquelin but there was not enough time left for Arsenal to rescue the game and Tottenham won their cup final, getting more joy from Arsenal losing than the fact that they won.
Lloris (c), Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Eriksen, Dembele, Lamela, Kane.
Vorm, Davies, Fazio, Chadli, Paulinho, Stambouli, Soldado.
Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker (c), Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Welbeck, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud.
Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Rosicky, Walcott, Akpom.