Andre Villas-Boas was in bullish mood following Tottenham’s 5 – 2 defeat to Arsenal in the north London derby as he looked for positives to take from the match. He has now seen his team lose their last three Premier League games and faces the next three with Jermain Defoe as the only out and out striker in the squad following the dismissal of Emmanuel Adebayor.
Prior to his first north London derby Villas-Boas had spoke of the importance of finishing the season above Arsenal if Spurs are to to fulfil their ambition a place in next season’s Champions League.that goal took a dent after yesterday’s defeat as the win took Arsenal above Spurs and into sixth place with a two point advantage over their rivals who have dropped to eighth.
In his press interviews at the Emirates Villas-Boas spoke of his pride in his team’s performance.
“We are proud of what we have done from the beginning of the game.”
The Head Coach demonstrated his support for his players by taking to the pitch after the game to congratulate them for their effort in the second half. Following such a heavy defeat the normal course of events is for the manager to disappear down the tunnel out of sight as soon as possible. Not, Villas-Boas, he wasn’t going to hide but went centre stage, standing shoulder to shoulder with his players in full view of the disappointed Tottenham fans still inside the Emirates.
The sending off of Adebayor so early in the match had a massive effect on the result but Villas-Boas refused to lay any blame on his player. Before the match he had also spoken of using Adebayor’s past connections with Arsenal to motivate him and it certainly worked in the seventeen minutes that Adebayor managed to stay on the pitch. He scored the Tottenham goal and was proving a problem for the uncertain defence which was creating opportunities and space for Defoe, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. Villas-Boas, however, had acknowledged that here could be a downside to a player facing his former club.
“Hopefully, it can have a positive effect, but it can have a negative effect. Last year he scored from the penalty spot and had a good game and this is the type of resolve and motivation needed for matches like this.”
Unfortunately, for Tottenham Adebayor was too committed and lunged into a tackle which caught the Arsenal player and left Howard Webb with no alternative but to show him a red card. In that instance, Adebayor condemned Spurs to an afternoon of chasing the game. Arsenal who had been troubled suddenly found the confidence to go forward and grab control of the match.
Villas-Boas in looking for positives seems to be rather over-stating the case for the Spurs performance.
“We were very, very good from the first minute to the last, with 11 men and with 10 men. Yes, we suffered but there were chances that, had we converted and brought the score to only a one-goal difference, I think it could’ve gone our way.”
The Tottenham players battled hard throughout but in the first half, having gone down to ten men were always struggling to contain Arsenal and the two goals immediately before half-time proved decisive. they gave Arsenal the cushion they needed and although Villas-Boas took the brave decision to be positive in the second half, Spurs were always open to a quick counter-attack from the home side. So it proved, as after Spurs had played well for the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, Arsenal broke and scored their fourth. Spurs regrouped and Bale pulled one back with ten minutes remaining but then Walcott added the fifth in the final minutes. Playing with a man down, Spurs were always at risk of being punished for any slight mistake and while the players gave a spirited display, the result was determined in the seventeenth minute.
One positive that Villas-Boas will surely take from the game was the performance of Tom Carroll who replaced Tom Huddlestone for the last twenty minutes. Carroll had impressed in the Europa League game against Maribor at White Hart Lane and again was very composed in his play.
He refused to be overawed by the state of the game and the enormity of the task facing him when he stepped on to the Emirates pitch. Carroll was given his first opportunity to play in last season’s Europa League games and has built on that in the past twelve months. With Spurs lack of a creative player and a lengthening injury list, he may find further opportunities for first team football come his way in the coming weeks.
- Tottenham have only defeated Arsenal twice on their own ground in the Premier League era.
- The last time they completed the ‘double’ over them was in 1992-93 so yesterday’s defeat leaves that record standing for another season.
- They haven’t finished above them in the League since 1994-95 and never in the time that Arsene Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal. At least that’s a record for Villas-Boas to aim for by the end of the season.