Debunking the myths of Arsenal v Spurs

Yes, I know the game was a few days ago now, and most people have since got over it and are looking forward to the pointless internationals this weekend (unless you are a plastic Paddy), but something has been bugging me for some time, and i have finally cracked.

After the weekends draw, the press seem to be spinning the game. The hyperboil of Tottenham’s performance has gone into over drive. To such an extent that they the amount of myths surrounding the game are piling up. It is time to bring some perspective.

Spurs dominated the North London Derby

Every paper screamed out the same headline. Arsenal got lucky. Spurs were the better side. They played Arsenal off the park. They dominated the match.

Tell me then, how a team can dominate the game by having just 45% possession? That is not exactly dominating.

Spurs had more shots – 14 to Arsenal’s 10 – but both had 4 on target. And as for chances, well Spurs had two. The Harry Kane goal and the header that Cech saved.  Arsenal had the better chances throughout the game – the goal, the Giroud miss, hit the woodwork, 2 late chances.

5 of Spurs 14 shots were from outside of the box. Against just 1 of Arsenal’s.

The way the press and Spurs fans have gone on, you would think Arsenal were backs to the wall for 89 minutes and snatched a winner. Not that by the end of the game it only looked like there would be one winner.

Yes, Spurs had the best of the first 30 minutes. I will happily admit that. They had 5 shots to Arsenal’s 0. The 15 minutes after their goal was even. And after half time it was all Arsenal.

Arsenal had more possession and completed 70 more passes.

A game lasts 90 minutes, not 31. Over the 90 minutes, it was a even game with a draw being the right result.

Considering our late chances, perhaps a fairer headline would have been Spurs hang on to draw North London Derby.

Dele Alli

I like Dele Alli. I rated him at MK Dons, and it is no surprise that he has taken to top flight football so easy. He is a talent. A talent I wanted Arsenal to sign.

But the way the press has gone on about his performance is typical. Hyping up a young English player for what was an average performance. It is a joke.

It has been a long time since I’ve seen a 19-year-old kid totally dominate a top-flight match”.

That is how one pundit described the performance.


Them statistics bring a lot of things into perspective.

If Ozil, or any Arsenal central midfielder, came out of a game with just a 67% pass completion and made just one tackle, everyone would be in their right mind to have a go at their performance. It would be unacceptable. It would be below par. Alli only completed 18 passes in the game. It is shocking statistics for a midfielder. Certainly not the type you would expect to win man of the match for.

Mesut Ozil is a world class performer, and he ran the game on Saturday once Arsenal got into their stride. It is perhaps unfair to compare young Alli to that sort of talent.

So instead, let’s compare him to Santi Cazorla.

The diminutive Spaniard had a torrid first half and was substituted at half time complaining of sickness and dizziness. He was off the pace big time.

In 45 minutes of shocking football, Cazorla completed 24 passes and made 1 tackle. That is more than what MOTM Dele Alli did in 82 minutes!

Alli’s passing statistics were only marginally better than Mathieu  Flamini. Also only on the field for 45 minutes. And not exactly know for his play making ability. With flamini winning 2 more tackles than Alli, surely it should have been him that the press were harping on about, and not Alli?

Alli was not even Spurs best midfielder. Christian Erikson,  Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier all had better games.

When you put it all together, Alli was the worst midfielder to start the game. He completed the least passes, at the lowest success rate. Made the least tackles. Did not create a chance. Had 1 shot. Blocked no shots. And made just 2 interceptions. In hindsight, he was useless.

But of course, he is English. The press loved him. The Spurs fans loved him. And it is that which marks a very poor performance.

Good player, but he was exposed at the weekend as not yet being good enough.

Arsenal need to show more aggression

An article by Spurs fan and former professional footballer Dave Kitson The Secret Football has really got my goat up. It is actually what pushed me over the edge to write this

In the article, on his own website (he no longer seems to be syndicated by The Guardian); he says that Arsenal lost drew the game as Spurs showed more aggression. And it is aggression that will let Arsenal down this season.

Now to some extent, I do agree. Arsenal have lacked for some years a dominating central midfielder in the Patrick Vieira role. A best of a player who can crush players defensively and drive the team forward with pace and power.

However, Francis Coquelin has come in and is filling that role. He might not have the physique of Vieira, but he is an aggressive little bugger. You do not need to be a man mountain to be aggressive.

Now about the weekend game, did Arsenal lose because they were not aggressive enough?

Clearly not.

The Secret Footballer tries to educate us on what aggression in football is:

“It’s when you play your passes more firmly, go shoulder to shoulder with a player and refuse to be beaten. It’s when you hit your shots harder, punch the ball with authority, win the 50-50 headers, don’t jump out of 50-50 block tackles, close opposition players down with meaning, not a half-hearted jog towards the ball… Arsenal did none of those things

This makes me start to doubt if he watched the game.

70 more passes
88% more tackles
1 less interception
2 less blocked shots

So Arsenal failed were Spurs succeeded? Even though the statistics say otherwise?

The only ‘aggressive’ statistic where Spurs dominated was in the fouls category. They cheated more than Arsenal. Good job!

After describing to us what aggression is, he then go’s on to say that “Tottenham did all of those things and none more so than Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.”

I start to wonder if he actually watched the game.

Arsenal’s midfield trio out passed and out tackled, and also out ran the 3 he mentions.

It kind of makes you wonder, was The Secret Footballer attempting to make a sensible commentary on the game, or was he just making up an article in the hope of getting hits?

Perhaps it sums him up that it was him who provided me with the aforementioned quote about Alli dominating the game.

Dave, your first book was brilliant. The next 3 were awful. I thin kit is time to give up your journalistic career.


So we come to the end of the analysis. The last myth to be debunked. The talk of the town that a 1-1 draw is proof that the power in North London is finally shifting.

It isn’t.

I was bored on Monday. And hungover. I decided to have a search through twitter. 2010 was the first time that the words “Spurs” & “Power Shift” were found together in a tweet. It must be the worlds slowest power shit.

Spurs have not won the league in 54 years. FACT.
Spurs have not won the FA Cup in 24 years. FACT.
Spurs have not finished above Arsenal in 20 years. FACT.

It will take a lot more than 1-1 draw for their to be a power shift. You do not overturn 50 years of dominance overnight. At some point Spurs will finish above Arsenal. It might not be in any of our life times. But even 1 season will not signify a power shift.

Over recent years, Man City have finished above Man Utd. Celtic above Rangers. Inter above AC. Everton above Liverpool. Atletico above Madrid. Torino above Juventus. I would be very surprised if there is an example of the smaller club not finishing above their bigger rival for longer than Spurs have failed to finish above Arsenal.

A brief look shows that in major clubs, in major league, it is only Espanyol’s struggles against Barcelona which out do Spurs failures to finish above Arsenal.

Yes, the gape has closed from the early 00’s to the early 10’s, but in that time Arsenal were severely restricted financially with the building of the new stadium.

Spurs new stadium still seems to be a year or so off. How far behind Arsenal will they end up?

A 1-1 draw being proof of a shift of power…it is almost as ludicrous as saying signing Soldado is proof, or signing Lamela, or signing Willian. Spurs fans have said all of this.

Spurs are 5 points behind Arsenal. There is not a power shift. Pipe down.

The media have written lies this week. Spurs fans have eaten up the lies. Some Arsenal fans even think they are true. But they are no more than lies made up by the Spurs loving media.

What sums it up is both clubs ambition.

Arsenal fans are talking about Top 1. Spurs fans about Top 4.

There has been no power shift.


hats scarves

Gooner hats and Cashmere scarves


3 thoughts on “Debunking the myths of Arsenal v Spurs

  1. Geoff Ba'mkubwa Luyuku

    well written i thought i was alone in not agreeing with how tottenham dominated that match,didnt see them at all in the second half and even thought their goal was a lucky one. thanks alot for emphatically debunking the myths propounded about that match

  2. philip88

    An in-form Spurs “dominated” an Arsenal team with half a dozen key players out injured, and a dizzy Santi. All they could do was 1-1 and they were running around like headless chickens for the last fifteen minutes after we drew level. Power shift ??

  3. Arsenal1Again

    “In 45 minutes of shocking football, Cazorla completed 24 passes and made 1 tackle. That is more than what MOTM Dele Alli did in 82 minutes!”

    This sums it up.

    As for powershift, its the main thing I force feed Spurs fans, their belief, “This is the season we finish above Arsenal”, just like it is every August … and come May, “Next season will be when we finish above Arsenal.” It’s what they live for because most of the ones online today are too young to remember the last time it happened.

    It seems the media lies and fabrication have come from such a crop of fans. I can see them rubbing their hands together like their parents do when counting money.


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