Arsenal 1 Tottenham 1
Arsenal facing Tottenham in the week after playing Bayern Munich has become something of a tradition in recent years. But never before did the Gunners need to re-establish themselves as much as they did yesterday, following the 5-1 capitulation in Germany mid-week.
With 10 squad players out injured, it was never going to be easy to beat their North London rivals, who are pushing hard for a top four finish and have lost only one of their Premier League outings this season.
Arsenal started out well, but quickly lost momentum to the visitors. Spurs dominated the first half and scored through Harry Kane, when Koscielny failed to apply the offside trap and made matters worse by failing to catch up with him on his lengthy run to the goal.
One nil down and with Iwobi the only attacking option on the bench, most Arsenal fans, including me, were surprised by Arsene Wenger’s second half substitutions.
Santi Cazorla was replaced at half time by Mathieu Flamini. Obviously a less creative player, but this had the effect of shutting down Dele Alli, who had caused plenty of problems in the first half.
Still desperately seeking an equaliser in the 74th minute, Wenger replaced the very busy Joel Campbell with Kieran Gibbs, of all people.
We soon found out why Arsene Wenger earns the big bucks and the rest of us sit and watch, and wonder. Only three minutes after coming on, Gibbs got onto a high ball that Mesut Özil had lobbed into the box and squeezed it past Hugo Lloris. They almost repeated the feat a few minutes later.
In the end, Arsenal would have been happy with the draw. Kyle Walker had been successful in closing down Alexis Sanchez and Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. On almost any other recent outing, at least one of the five shots that Olivier Giroud had would have gone in.
There’s now another tiresome international break, but hopefully it will give some of Arsenal’s injured masses time to recover for the visit to West Bromwich Albion on the 21st November.
In the meantime, Arsenal sit second in the league, with only goal difference separating them from the free spending billionaires of Manchester City.
Player of the Month for October
Congratulations to Alexis Sanchez, who has been named PFA Player of the Month for October.
Far be it from me to rain on his parade, we all know that he works wonders and is one of the most exciting players in the Premier League. But a couple of Arsenal players should really be given high commendations and may have even pipped him for the title.
Mesut Özil is really pulling the strings in midfield and although not as obvious or flashy as Alexis, he really has been at the core of the recent run of Premier League victories. Özil is the first ever player to contribute an assist in six consecutive Premier League games in the same season. He is also the first player to assist 10 goals in his opening 11 games of a Premier League season. Hats off to him.
Hector Bellerin has been a revelation since he took a grip on the right back role. He has been hugely impressive in both attack and defence. His presence was sorely missed against Bayern Munich and Tottenham. Mathieu Debuchy has become something of a whipping boy for some Arsenal‘supporters’. He had his moments against Spurs, but it was evident, late on, that, although he may have overcome his injuries, he is still some way short of match fitness.