For the first time in years, Tottenham went into a north London derby being tipped as favourites and full of optimism.
After two 1-0 wins in the league, both thanks to penalties from new front-man Roberto Soldado, and two convincing wins against Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi, Tottenham went into the first north London derby of the season on the back of some good performances.
With boss Andre Villas-Boas splashing the cash this summer, spending in excess of £105 million, Spurs were boasting seven new faces. Breaking their transfer record not once, not twice, but three times, the White Hart Lane faithful were revelling in the fact that Arsene Wenger had failed to make a major signing so far.
Spurs started brightly, with Andros Townsend and Theo Walcott having shots saved early on, in what was expected to be an open game. With the last two north London derbies ending 5-2, we were anticipating plenty of goals and plenty of action.
A lapse in concentration and/or judgement by Tottenham captain Michael Dawson led to the only goal of the game, as his team-mates stepped up in an attempt to catch the Gunners attack offside, he stayed put, leaving Walcott free to cross low for Olivier Giroud to poke home.
In the end I feel it was a fair result, despite having more possession (57%) Spurs created little in the way of clear goal scoring opportunities, with Defoe coming closest after his deflected shot was stopped by Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny.
After the game, the Spurs boss admitted defeat, "Hurts." Hopefully the squad will pick themselves up and learn from the game. They now have the international break to get their heads down and concentrate on the game at home to Norwich on September 14.
After a lengthy time out on the sidelines, Spurs fans with surely be hoping that Sandro is fit and ready to start against Norwich next time out, after new boy Etienne Capoue appeared to lose his head on the big occasion. Whether the robust Frenchman was told how important a fixture this is for Spurs their fans is unclear, but right from the off you could see his head wasn't fully in the game. Capoue later left the field after suffering a nasty ankle injury.
Tottenham's new look midfield clearly lacked an understanding of one another, compared to the Gunners. Having played together for a couple of seasons, the Arsenal players showed a clear understanding of one another, dominating and commanding as a result.
The Spurs new boys obviously need time to gel, let's not dwell on that, but the fact that AVB selected Capoue ahead of Sandro to play the anchor role is a strange one. Sandro has played in several north London derbies, and knows that they are one of the most, if not most important, fixture of the season.
Another strange decision made by Villas-Boas, was to substitute Andros Townsend, who for me has been Tottenham's best player so far this season, and was certainly the only bright spark in an otherwise unimaginative side. For me, if Tottenham were to get back into the game, it was going to come from the young wide man.
Erik Lamela, Tottenham's £25.7 million signing from Roma, was Townsend's replacement. He showed a few neat touches, but lacked penetration. Being a left-footer on the right wing he constantly cut inside eventually being crowded out.
Lamela is more suited playing the number ten role, just off of Soldado, much like a certain Welsh player, with Townsend and Lennon providing natural width and consistent service to their number nine.
After being touted as a key player in the fixture, new acquisition Nacer Chadli did nothing of note and was largely anonymous throughout the game. Apart from a few tricks and a good bit of wing play at the very start, up against the fairly inexperienced Carl Jenkinson, he lacked any conviction or composure on the ball.
With only two goals in three Premier League games so far this season, both being from the spot, Spurs have yet to score from open play. Worrying, considering how much they relied on Gareth Bale for goals last season. The Welshman scored 26 goals in all competitions, well ahead of Tottenham's second highest scorer, Jermain Defoe, with 15.
Although new front-man Soldado has scored four in four games for Spurs this season, both of his goals in the Premier League have come from the penalty spot.
It's still early days for this new-look Tottenham side. With time they'll no doubt gel and become a much stronger unit, but up until now they haven't quite had that cutting edge, or the free flowing attacking football we were so used to seeing last season.
With Spurs hunting Champions League football once again this season, only time will tell if this current crop of players are ready to take that next step into the European elite.
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