EPL Results: Rosicky Wonder Strike and Gritty Rearguard Action Gives Arsenal Invaluable Win over Tottenham
By Deepak Vikraman | March 17, 2014 4:57 AM EST
It wasn't pretty, there was not much Va Va Voom - apart from the goal - but it was one of the sweetest 1-0 to The Arsenal as they come as Arsene Wenger's men kept their title chase intact with a fighting win Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and with it completing a memorable English Premier League double over their North London rivals.
After Tomas Rosicky struck a stunning opener in the second minute of the game, Arsenal were asked to invoke the ghosts of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon, and led by the imperious Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, they did just that putting on a commendable rearguard action that even George Graham would have been proud of to come away with an invaluable three points - a three points that takes them to third in the English Premier League table, level on points with Liverpool, who thumped Manchester United earlier on Sunday, and four adrift of leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand.
It was an as-good-as-it-gets start for Arsenal as Tomas I-love-scoring-against-Spurs Rosicky scored a wonder goal 72 seconds into the game -- Rosicky striking the sweetest of half volleys from an acute angle after a miscontrol from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fell onto the midfielder's path.
Tottenham looked a little shell-shocked by the early goal and should have gone 2-0 down a little later as Oxlade-Chamberlain, having a ball in the centre of the park, broke free, but missed the target terribly while attempting a Rosicky-like chip which the Czech midfielder did so wonderfully well against Spurs in the 2-0 FA Cup win not so long ago - Tim Sherwood decided to put a bit of spotlight on himself after the missed opportunity, going nuts and throwing his jacket to the floor.
Spurs settled into the game after the first ten minutes or so, enjoying the bulk of the possession with Emmanuel I'm-desperate-to-score-against-Arsenal Adebayor, off long balls over the top, coming close on a couple of occasions.
Arsenal were now more than happy to soak up the pressure and hit Spurs on the counter-attack as Lukas Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain, twice more, came close.
Podolski, who was a little unlucky to be given offside early on when clear on goal, struck the side netting from a tight angle, with Oxlade-Chamberlain, striking wide on a couple of occasions, first off a cut-back from Podolski, and second off a layoff from Rosicky.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, with his pace and power, was a constant threat as Tottenham kept sticking to an asking-for-trouble high line, which this Arsenal side, even with not too much pace in the side, were taking advantage of at will.
Andros Townsend whipped in a couple of nice crosses from the left at the other end, but a Tottenham shirt was not available on either of those instances as the game went into halftime with a familiar scoreline.
Spurs began the second half like a house on fire, while Wojciech Szczesny decided to raise the home team's spirits, coming out for a couple of crosses and making complete hashes of it, with only some brilliant last-ditch defending from Bacary Sagna and Koscielny keeping the score at 1-0.
It was all Tottenham in the second 45, as I-have-to-score-against-Arsenal-I-just-have-to! Adebayor kept asking questions of the Arsenal defence. There have been a lot of these games with this Arsenal side, where they have been asked to show some grit in defence - the 1-0 win at the Emirates against the same side being a good example -- and most of the times they have been answered well, with Mertesacker and Koscielny marshalling the back-four pretty well, like they have done all season.
The proof of Tottenham's dominance was I-can-be-pragmatic-as-well-you-know Arsene Wenger making three defensive substitutions in bringing on Mathieu Flamini, Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen for goalscorer Rosicky, Lukas Podolski and How-did-I-not-score Oxlade-Chamberlain, as the home side kept willing the ball to find the back of the net at Arsenal's end.
However, it was the Gunners that nearly made it 2-0 in the 78th minute, with Mertesacker striking a striker-like volley from 14 yards, which was wonderfully kept out by Hugo Lloris, who had little to do other than that save in the second half.
It was a lot easier than is should have been for Arsenal in the final ten minutes as the away side picked up a win that keeps them on course for their first title in ten years, while Spurs' hopes of a top-four finish has pretty much vanished.
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