August 2013 seems so long ago. That is when I wrote a comprehensive player by player review before the Arsenal v Tottenham match at the Emirates Stadium. It caused some controversy, and attracted plenty of debate from both sides. Since then, Arsenal have signed Mesut Ozil, he has been labelled the first step into the future for Arsenal, and then been written off as a flop. Spurs have changed as well. They saw their spending reach £100m, on many players who do not play, and have sacked their manager, recruited a PE teacher, and scoured the globe for a replacement for him this summer. Back in 2013, the final score was Arsenal 87 Tottenham 77. How have things changed?
(Line ups based on who has played most games per position/likely line ups)
Szczesny v Lloris
At the start of the season, Wojciech Szczesny had a few question mark’s over him. Many called for a more experienced goal keeper to be signed. He had a mistake in him, and often that mistake led to a goal. Since then, he has grown into arguably the best goal keeper in the Premier League. Whilst De Gea, Cech and Hart have all made many mistakes, Szczesny has put in world class performances on a weekly basis.
The only other goal keeper to be as solid as Szczesny this season has been Hugo Lloris. Bar a shaky performance against Chelsea last weekend, where he was also badly let down by his defence, Lloris has been a consistent performer. Yes, he still has a habit of being a bit Hollywood but he, alongside Szczesny, is one of the best keepers in the Premier League.
Szczesny 8 Lloris 8
Sagna v Walker
Bacary Sagna has been superb this season. After a couple of poor years, mainly due to injury, he has returned to the consistent full back that saw him twice named in the PFA Team of the Year. He puts in solid 7 out of 10 performances every game.
Walker has gone backwards this season. In what was supposed to be his breakthrough year, leading to being England’s 1st choice right back in Brazil, he has been exposed in 2013/14. Whilst his pace and power is not in question, nor is his ability going forward, he is consistently out of position. Kyle Walker is starting to remind me of Emmanuel Eboue. Brilliant going forward, but a liability in defence. His seat on the plane is now under threat, with Smalling & Jones seemingly preferred at right back ahead of him.
Sagna 7 Walker 6
Metersacker v Dawson
When I wrote this summary in August, this was the most controversial. Spurs fans came out in mass saying I was clueless for rating Germany’s 1st choice centre back higher than England’s 9th choice. Since then, a lot has changed.
Per Mertesacker has become even better. So much so, he is equally the best centre back in the league alongside Vincent Kompany (both offer something different too eachother and would compliment each other well).
Michael Dawson, whilst an admirable defender who plays with his heart on his sleeve, is just not in the same class. The clear difference between the players is that whilst Mertesacker is a starter for Germany, ahead of a lot of talented defenders, Dawson is not even in the thinking of England selectors. Dawson is like a poor mans John Terry. Mertesacker is a stroller and plays the game at ease.
Mertesacker 9 Dawson 6
Koscielny v Vertonghan
Koscielny has been consistent this season. Consistently doing a good job man marking, consistently making up ground and out running opponents, and consistently giving away penalties. He still has a rash challenge in him, and has cost us this season with a few last ditch attempts for the ball. However he has become a solid performer alongside Mertesacker.
Veronghan has had an odd season, starting at centre back, then being moved to left back due to injuries. It is hard to judge his performances this season due to being moved about so much, however his class still remains. An athlete in a similar way to Koscielny, although he is a little less rash, It is likely he will leave Spurs in the summer as he seeks playing centre back and playing week in week out. Would I have him at Arsenal? No. But he would get into most other Premier League sides.
Koscielny 8 Vertonghan 9
Gibbs v Naughton
The first change on the list. Due to injury, and lack of other options, Kyle Naughton has often been played left back, rotating with Vertonghan. The weaker of the two full backs bought from Sheffield United (alongside Walker) in 2009, he is a right back playing left back. The fact he is at left back having played just 14 games this season shows Spurs’ problem in the position. He is Tottenham’s weak link.
Kieran Gibbs has improved dramatically this season, although his injury record is still worrying. 34 games played in all competitions, there was talk of him going to Brazil ahead of both Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw. Personally, I would still take him alongside Shaw and Baines as all 3 could also be the sides left winger. Gibbs is class. He just needs to stay fit.
Gibbs 8 Naughton 4
Flamini v Sandro
Both headless rabbits. Both more likely to be booked than create a goal. Both more likely to be sent off than score one. Whilst both give both sides a nasty edge, both are also likely to leave their side down to 10 men. They are the sides ‘liability’ as well as the rock which allows others to play. Neither is world class, both can be improved in. In fact, this is the most fair match up in this very one sided report.
Flamini 6 Sandro 6
Ramsey v Dembele
When I wrote before the tie at the Emirates, Aaron Ramsey was the ‘man of the moment.’ Meanwhile I was comparing Mousa Dembele with Jack Wilshere. Transfer’s have since taken place meaning that Dembele now plays deeper and Wilshere is not a starter in Arsenal’s strongest 11.
After the last game, Aaron Ramsey went from strength to strength before succumbing to injury on Boxing Day. Despite this, Aaron Ramsey had already scored 13 goals in 27 games. Dembele has 2 from the same amount of games. Ramsey also leads assists, 7 to 1. If this was a boxing match, Ramsey would have one by 1st round knock out.
Ramsey 9 Dembele 6
Ozil v Eriksen
OK, it is likely that Mesut Ozil is out for a month, but as Spurs have a Christian Eriksen song dedicated to Ozil, and Arsenal have an Ozil song dedicated to Spurs, I thought it would still be fair to compare them.
Eriksen, sen, sen; He’s our number 23.
Eriksen, sen, sen; Came to play for AVB.
To the left to the right; He’s our midfield Dynamite.
When he plays for the Lilywhites; He makes Özil look sh*te.
How does it feel to be Tottenham?
How does it feel to be small?
You sold Bale, we signed Mesut Oziiiiiil, Mesut Oziiiiil.
Not only does Ozil have the better song, he is also the finished article. A truly world class player. Meanwhile, people are still talking about Christian Eriksen’s potential. In the league this season, Ozil – the flop – has 4 goals and 8 assists, whilst Eriksen – a revelation – has 3 goals and 3 assists. Eriksen’s talent is not in doubt, he is a brilliant player and will surely use Spurs as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Ozil 10 Eriksen 8
Oxlade-Chamberlain v Lennon
In august, it was Walcott v Lennon. It was a white wash.Walcott 9 Lennon 6. With Theo being out, will be up to Oxlade-Chamberlain to step up. The fact that Oxlade Chamberlain was selected for England v Denmark and is a certainty to go to Brazil, whilst Aaron Lennon was probably in Face’s Nightclub in Gants Hill throwing some shapes.
Whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain is no Theo Walcott, his performance against Bayern Munich shows he is on the brink of becoming one of Europe’s top players. Versatile, two footed, pace, balance, strength and passing, he is perhaps Arsenal’s most complete player. Aaron Lennon, meanwhile, is just a quick runner.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 8 Lennon 6
Cazorla v Townsend
One is a 2 European Championship medals and is capped 61 times for World Champions Spain. The other is the future of English football who, at 22, has played just 37 games for Spurs. Townsend has played for 10 clubs in his short career. It is likely that his career peaked with that goal against Montenegro. Cazorla might have had a poor season this year, but his 4 league goals is still more than Andros Townsend has scored in his entire Premier League career. One is a top international, the future is well, certainly not the future of English football
Cazorla 8 Townsend 6
Giroud v Soldado
In August, I rated Soldado higher than Giroud, based on the Spaniards performances in Spain. 7 months on, Soldado has scored just 2 league goals from open play and looks out of depth in the Premier League. He has been so poor that it there is a good chance that Emmanuel Adebayor might start ahead of him.
Olivier Giroud is certainly not an Arsenal first choice striker. He showed against Everton that he can make an impact against tired centre backs when he comes off the bench. Starting, he tends to struggle against top sides. Both still rely heavily on others to make their chances. Giroud’s 18 goals to Soldado’s 11 swaps the 6-7 score from August into the Frenchman’s favour
Giroud 7 Soldado 6
Arsenal 88 Tottenham 71