Spurs 1-4 Arsenal (a.e.t.): Unique Nasri gets the goals, Gibbs and Wilshere the plaudits

It would be easy to get caught up in the emotion of last night’s stunning 4-1 extra-time victory at White Hart Lane. But that would do a great disservice to an Arsenal team that put in a masterclass in technical football to ensure that the ineptness of the officiating did not deny them a convincing win.

It was a much stronger Carling Cup side than usual, as evidenced by the front three of Samir Nasri, Carlos Vela and Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny’s presence in central defence, but the effort, desire and technical quality of the football on display was something to behold. Driven on by sensational performances by Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere and an early debut Arsenal goal by Henri Lansbury, our boys gave Tottenham a first-half schooling at White Hart Lane.

After a fiesty opening five minutes our superior energy and effort began to show. Wilshere and Denilson took control of the midfield area, paving the way for a couple of Lansbury sighters before the opening goal came. And when it came, what a goal it was.

Emmanuel Eboue’s beautiful crossfield ball was brought down by Gibbs who drove forward and flicked the ball onto Rosicky. The Czech man then tapped the ball into space for Wilshere who hammered in a low, inch-perfect cross that Lansbury finished off in true Freddie Ljungberg style.

Arsene Wenger is often incorrectly criticised for failing to give English players a fair go. He would have enjoyed this goal more than anyone even if he had to watch it from the stands while serving his one-match touchline ban for poor conduct against Sunderland. Wenger’s constant text-messaging to Pat Rice from the stands provided some of the more comical moments in this match, enhanced by the post-match revelation that his phone reception essentially carked it.

The goal only served as more incentive for our boys to attack while Spurs went well and truly into their shells. Indeed, the movement and intensity both on and off the ball by Arsenal was quite simply amazing and the quality of our passing ensured we saw a huge amount of the ball and minimised Tottenham’s ability to impact on the scoresheet. When football tacticians talk about “defending by keeping the ball” this is exactly what they are referring to, as evidenced by Spurs inability to create anything going forward.

Despite bossing possession in the first half we created very few clear-cut chances, although the one we did create just before the break should have resulted in a goal. Wilshere’s delightful through-ball rewarded a blistering Gibbs run but after rounding the goalkeeper and preparing to slide the ball into the empty net, the full-back was incorrectly ruled offside. It was one of the more frustrating offside decisions to go against Arsenal in recent seasons, denying the two Englishman the honour of scoring a brilliantly-worked goal. It left me with a feeling of inevitability quite similar to Rosicky’s weekend penalty miss: surely Tottenham would get back into the game now, wouldn’t they?

A sweet sight

That the answer to the question was ‘yes’ was hardly surprising, the manner of the goal was extremely frustrating. Probably under half-time instruction from the match referee to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacker after the Gibbs blunder, the linesman then contrived to make things worse by giving Robbie Keane way too much benefit and allowing the Spurs substitute to score.

Lukasz Fabianski also had an important role to play in the goal and I think his effort summed up everything that is good and bad about him at the moment. He showed excellent reflexes to get down to the shot but a lack of strength in his wrists to keep the ball out. I’m not sure there are many goalkeepers out there who would have reacted quickly enough to get a hand on it but once he was there, Fabianski really should have kept it out. Any goalkeepers out there that give their opinion on this?

Once Spurs were level things the contest became much more even. Yet while the home side enjoyed more of the ball than in the first half it was still our boys who created the best opportunities. Vela wasted his only decent chance by heading over from a Wilshere cross while Keane was again incorrectly ruled onside before striking the post. Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin replaced Vela and Rosicky in what was an exciting second-half, yet 1-1 it ended and extra-time beckoned.

The extra 30 minutes got off to an explosive start as Arshavin’s clever dink put through Nasri and the Frenchman was pulled down in the area by Sebastien Bassong. With Rosicky sitting on the substitutes bench Nasri took the kick himself, sending goalkeeper Pletikosa the wrong way to put Arsenal back in front.

Then, just two minutes later, a repeat. Chamakh broke free into the box, was pulled down and a second penalty was awarded. Nasri stepped up again to slide the ball into the opposite corner and effectively end the game as a contest.

When Arshavin added a blasted fourth after being put through by Wilshere, you just knew that every Arsenal fan wanted to make it five to get revenge for two seasons ago. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the referee blew the final whistle. But while the boys were unable to repeat Spurs 5-1 scoreline they were treated to marvelous sight of the White Hart Lane crowd emptying fifteen minutes before the end of the game, a result of Arsenal’s dominance on the pitch.

So all in all, it was a sensational victory by the boys with many, many things to be happy about.

Wilshere ran the show today, reacting to being kicked all over the place by the Spurs midfield and defence by playing better and better as the game went on. He was ably supported by Denilson, whose intelligent positioning paved the way for Wilshere’s probing, but the Englishman’s effervescence and technical quality contributed to a performance that no other 18-year-old in the Premier League is capable of right now.

Yet while Wilshere’s performance was undoubtedly brilliant he wasn’t the best player on pitch. That honour goes to Kieran Gibbs who looks absolutely in the zone at the moment. He defended superbly, picked his moments to get forward and should have had a goal to go with his near-perfect performance. That Gibbs went off injured with another potential metatarsal break is a massive disappointment because in this form he deserves a shot at the first-team.

The bizarre performance of the night went to Nasri, who fused blatant arrogance with the ice-cool temperament necessary to win the game. Despite plenty of praise from other reports, I felt the Frenchman’s efforts over the first 90 minutes were extremely poor. Unlike every other member of the starting team I thought he looked off the pace, slowing the game down when in possession and getting caught with the ball a few too many times. He also sent Rosicky away from a corner kick in a very “I’m the man” way but took the responsibility for the two kicks superbly, watching the goalkeeper and sending him the wrong way both times.

I’ve said before that Nasri’s unique temperament – a product of the rough and tumble nature of his Marseille childhood – makes him a unique player, both a fighter and a leader with a dash of arrogance thrown in. For better and for worse, I think we saw that tonight.

Other brief mentions should go to Johan Djourou, who was certainly a little rusty but completed a solid 90 minutes in his first start in 16 months, and Vela, whose tireless performance would have drawn much praise if he was three inches taller and had a lizard-style haircut.

Beating Spurs is always a delightful thing but I just felt tonight was a little special. We overcame some horrible refereeing to get the win that our storming performance deserved at White Hart Lane and bounced back from the disappointment at Sunderland in style. The energy and effort of a virtual second-string line-up indicates the depth and quality that we have at our disposal all over the pitch and in Wilshere, Gibbs and Lansbury we have three young Englishman who are starting to show they have the ability to make the grade at the club.

Superb stuff.

Have your say on Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Spurs by leaving a comment.



  1. I really like Chamakh. I don’t think he will ever score more than 15 goals a season (maybe 20 at a push, which would be fantastic) but his workrate and intelligence is phenomenal. Not only has he scored 3 goals this season, but he has won 2 (3?) penalties and forced Reina into an error because of the timing of his runs and general persistence. He can really mix it up as well – all in all, the perfect bargain.

  2. Very nice write-up as per-usual, Andrew – and with your typically ‘unique’ perspective. Can’t agree with you about Fabianski unfortunately though. Having been, surely deliberately, allowed to play from an off-side position by the linesman, Keane, who is a truly crap forward most of the time, contrived to scuff the ball fairly tamely at about the only spot where a keeper could save it from that position. I think almost any keeper could have got down for that – but only someone like Flappy would let it go through the frankfurters he has on the end of his wrists!

  3. The arsenal medical staff shd be more concerned with Gibbs If indeed he broke his metatasal then wh is he walking off with weight on the injured foot?

    Bring the other Lewin back.

  4. Can’t agree more with Andrew. Fabianski should have stopped it…More stronger hands would have done the job.
    And how unfortunate for Gibbs…he was unlikely given off side, he was almost a foot behind the last defender when he took the ball…but it seems his pace deceived the linesman.
    Had it not been for this stupid call from the linesman we would have won t within the normal regulation time.
    Anyways, a great result…probably best of this season.

    Come on Arsenal..Fight Fight…we are with you 🙂

  5. Appreciate the views above and agree in most with some exceptions: I think we had a number of people who over-did themselves. Djourou who was back from a long time injury looked FINE against Pavlouchenko who has been doing better in PL. Kocelny, impresses more and more every game. May this continue for ever more. Gibbs had Lennon in his pocket to deny him space and possibility to cross.

    In the middle, Denilson has finally learnt to be invisible like Gilberto by being a nuissance to opposition while evading attention of referee, tackling hard but fairly which allowed Wilshere freedom to roam. The same freedom allowed Nassri to hold the ball and create crisscross passes that sucked energy out of Spuds. Our GK is a mug and therefore had to be shielded. Any more exposure to strikers we would be spitting bile cursing our luck. Roy Keane goal was offside and should’nt have stood while Wilshere was denied an clear scoring change when onside. That we got 2 penalties was a compensation. How long can we go on being unlucky. Beside, Nassri and Charmach was through and fouled.

    Charmach appear to be the type: strong, clever and willing to run himself to the ground.
    Glory glory gunners.

  6. Hi Andy,

    I have had experience as a goalkeeper and I think Fabianski did a good job getting down to that shot.

    A lot of people don’t realise that even getting your hands on a shot like that is an achievement in itself. As a goalkeeper you have no right to save a one on one like that, he was just unlucky.

    All the criticism for his previous performances have been justified, but last night’s criticism was a little bit harsh.

  7. Firstly, congratulations to Arsenal for a BIG BIG win! Secondly, congratulations to the fringe players like denilson, lansbury, gibbs (arguably fully fledged 1st teamer), njourou eboue, vela and fabianski for playing with flair, passion, intensity and commitment
    Thirdly, well done wilshere, nasri, chamakh, koscielny and arshavin.

    Fourthly – well done spuds for being over confident and selecting a slightly weakened team. The extent to which you were outplayed at times was breathtaking!

    Fifth – well done harry for your ridiculous comments ie I think trophies are more important than being remembered for selecting young players. Well, eat your words! rottenham dont even have a reserve team! hahaha there is no future for your team. Look at arsenal’s team though

    gibbs – under 21
    lansbury – under 21
    wilshere – under 21
    vela – apprx 21
    denilson – 22
    Nasri – 23
    Njourou – 23

    so looks like the youngsters played you, mr dozy twitch

    sixth – the linesmen were completely blind – some offsides against arsenal were ridiculous, and the keane goal was clearly at least a foot offside. Poor, poor. Penalty decision when lansbury brought down, not given. Terrible

    Seventh – van der vaart – eat your words son, your team got owned. Overconfident with not much substance to back up your big headedness.

    eighth – redknapp, you dozy so and so, you were probably half asleep and missed point 6 above, anyhow, serves you right for being such a big talker and not selecting your best 11 against arsenal.

  8. Totally agree with everything said, and a great write-up/analysis once again, Andy! I’m glad you didn’t overrate Djourou’s performance, as we all know you have a particular soft spot for the lad 😉 I hope he continues to gain confidence, strength and match fitness as the season progresses because I have a feeling we are going to need him with our long runs in the Carling Cup, FA Cup, CL and down to the wire Premier League campaign.

    I just wanted to point out, also, that the linesman did call Sir Blockhead (Keane) offside on his off-the-post attempt at goal in the second half.

    Gunner For Life.

  9. Marseille grit, eh Andy, as you used to say!

    Thought Nasri was good. Thought Keane, when he came on, was good at keeping Wilshere quiet for a while though…

  10. Nasri does have a tendancy to be over elaborate and thus slowing us down. However, his ball control and thus retention is fantastic. Rosicky tends to move the ball around faster and thus maybe he might be preferred in the hole a la Cesc.

    Fabianski SHOULD have saved that goal. NO doubts about it! He had one save of significance and couldn’t make it. Whereas I am not going to call him names etc, he has never shown the dependability to become Arsenal’s No.1. If Wenger really has that much belief in him, send him out on loan for a spell as he needs games to build up his confidence.

    Wislhere is still young and will only get better. Like Wenger, I am not going to HYPE him up too much as one swallow does not make summer. He is tasty though but very young and needs to be groomed and nutured in the same manner as Cesc was. He has a star studded future ahead of him and he is a tough little so and so!

    Djourou looked RUSTY and he got skinned a few times last night. He badly needs game time – BADLY!

    Gibbs was immense and I must say that he looks to have more in his locker than Clichy. He has improved defensively no end, yet he still is very young also. Hope the injury is just a bruising (so I hear).

    Koscielny has been a revelation at centre back. His real test will be against Drogba and Anelka but the dude is a Turbo Terminator.

    Vela needs to do more for me. If this game taught us one thing it is that he is not ready to lead the line. Mind you if we had had someone in the 1st 1/2 who was willing to play him through, around , over the defence, we might have seen more from him. That someone would have been Cesc. He has talent but needs to get tougher and more ruthless.

    What a sweet result. It’s alwasy nice to beat the noisy neighbors in their own backyard-fullstop! We now have bigger fish to fry-Onto WBA on Saturday!

  11. Fabianski wld have save that type of shot 10/10 tmes in training -he is suffering for crisis of confidence.Someone said his fingers are made of Frankfurters! Every game one mistake hich results in a goal.

    But there is a Youtube compilation of his saves looks world class go figure…

  12. I also think Koscielny had an excellent game. Wilshere really shone as well, can’t wait to watch him match after match.

    I thought the team looked very well last night, and it was a very deserving win.

    Party On!

  13. There’s good news on the injury front, according to arsenal.com Gibbs has suffered severe bruising and not a fracture. Could be back in two to three wees.

  14. Great news that Gibbs hasn`t picked up a serious injury.I want to see more of him this season,he is such a talented player..and…afraid of no one.Our manager has done it again,what excellent signings in Koscielny and Chamakh.He was also right not to sign a midfielder but to put his trust in Wilshere instead.The only player who scares me ,when I see his name on the team sheet ,is Fabianski….he still has an awful lot to do to regain the fans faith in him.Let`s pray that he doesn`t lose us games trying to do it.I wish that Wenger would give Mannone or Szczesny a chance to shine instead…they can`t do any worse!

  15. @Andy,
    Bang on, also agree about the Nasri observation, he looked uninterested at times and when he tamely lost possession he made no attempt to retrieve it as if it wasnt his problem anymore and was up to the excellent Denilson and co to chase down the opposition, totally different to his approach vs sunderland where I thought he was impressive with and without the ball….also I wasnt impressed with the way he ushered/dismissed Ros away from the set play, hes hardly a dead ball specialist, but to his credit he put away the pens nicely, it was the only way he was gonna be remembered last night as Wilshere showed him what he should be doing, thats the type of thing Nasri is capable of doing aswel but doesnt do enough as he quite simply lacks the drive of an 18 year old Wilshere, maybe getting more game time with the young talent will rub off on Nasri, youd think it should be the other way round, but Wilshere was definately the ‘go-to’ man alongside rosicky last night….despite that pen miss at the weekend there are big things to come from rosicky this season….hes over due a sustained run in the team and has the quality we need once he gets his full confidence back.
    Andy, like the freddie/ lansbury comparison, goodstuff.
    Like I have said before Im no Almunia fan but I will support him while hes got the shirt, especially because,touch-wood,he gets injured were screwed with the other lad, he just cant get it right im afraid and we cant afford any liabilities, I mean the very fact that an opposing team would see him between our sticks is a motivation for them…..
    Gibbs is not as badly injured as first thought thank god…2/3 weeks away.
    Chelsea and City are out so would love to see us have a day out at wembley now

  16. I think its a little unfair of people to say Nasri looks disinterested and doesn’t work to win back the ball, anyone who watched the Braga game will have seen his closing down and work rate defensively were fantastic. Of more concern to me on this front would be arshavin – who appears to be giving the ball away on a number of occasions this season through attempts at over elaborate passes (though he has made amends for these errors by assisting and scoring a number of times already) and making very little effort to win the ball back.

    Anyone else notice Harry Redknapp’s comments accusing Nasri of diving? It might have been a soft penalty but I think Redknapp’s comments would have been lent more credibility had he at least admitted Robbie Keanes goal was offside!

    I think Wilshere is an absolute gem-the fact he has been at arsenal since 9 years of age and is pushing for the first team at 18 speaks volumes for the arsenal youth academy (and staff). My only concern is that making so many appearances at such a young age could lead to burnout during the season and I hope Wenger rests him accordingly.

  17. i think Ebuoe and Diaby should not ever start any Arsenal games no matter what injuries is players in. We should all appreciate jack for the well done job in the midfield at White hart lane.
    Our main enemy is Chelsea which we are meeting on the 3rd of next month , so Wenger give us a good lineup please so that we should be attack by heart attack.

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