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Battle Lost, War Far From Over

Tottenham for once have signed the majority of their players before the deadline day, but after another loss at the Emirates, perhaps it wasn’t quick enough. Up against a team that hasn’t made any significant alterations for 12 months, Spurs were bereft of ideas, cohesion and understanding. A marked improvement is needed especially if we are going to challenge honours.

afc v spursThe Emirates bar two incredible turnarounds in recent years has never been a happy place for Spurs. Arsenal as usual in this fixture, or when the calendar turns to early spring, donned their “divine right win attitude” and new look Spurs had no answer to it. A cool finish by Oliver Giroud against the run of possession was all they needed to collect three points.

The moment they took the lead the script was there for all to see. They would sit deep and invite us on, before looking to hit us on the counter, had Arsenal’s finishing been better, or Hugo Lloris a lesser keeper, the result may well have been worse. The Frenchman pulled of a string of saves and kept us in the game, whilst as our wayward passing and poor crossing offered little hope of us getting back into it.

Our heralded midfield trio looked neat and tidy, but where was the drive and strength that three individuals of such physical stature should have?

Mousa Dembele continues to confuse me. As his form slumped in early 2013 many of us pointed to Scott Parker’s presence alongside him, yet even now with far better players next to him, he remains ineffective. For long periods of the derby Paulinho’s sole purpose was to sweep up behind the Belgian, his substitution was welcome when it finally arrived.

Etienne Capoue, before injury ended his derby was equally quiet. Up against lightweight opposition and a midfielder who hadn’t kicked a ball in anger since May; it was a poor performance from the trio.

It wasn’t much better for the rest of the outfield team, especially the wide men. Andros Townsend, barring a few trademark long range efforts was ineffective against a left back I believe he had the better of, and across field our Belgian winger had another average performance. Nacer Chadli for a wide man who stands at 6’2 and has a wonderful first touch, remains an anomaly. First impressions when we signed him were that he would be a decent squad player. He has done little to dispel these initial opinions.

Twitter spent the majority of the 90 minutes crying for a number 10, I can see the logic in this, but against an Arsenal team sitting deep and packing the central areas, I don’t believe this would have helped. What we needed was better passing from all 10 outfield players across the pitch, not just in the final third. Each time a promising move opened up especially wide, the passes or crosses into the front men were wayward.

As the game ticked away, even with the introduction of Eric Lamela, Spurs turning around the one goal deficit seemed unlikely. AVB so often an assured presence from the touchline, lost his pattern of thought, instead of re-jigging the attacking options he opted for the tired 442 formation, when perhaps removing Chaldi an introducing a more reliable passer in Glyfi Sigurdsson or Lewis Holtby would have been better.

In countless situations last season we saw AVB out think his managerial opponent and conjure up a substitution to change the course of the game, but at the Emirates rather like Spurs, AVB lost his way.  The moment that perhaps encapsulated how lost AVB found himself was when he scampered down the touchline to pass on a message to Kyle Walker to chuck the ball long into the mixer. Hardly something you could imagine AVB having a dossier on.

When AVB walked into White Hart Lane he had a big job on his hands, but handling this new look Spurs squad and defining who plays where and how, will be what makes or breaks his Spurs career. With £110 million spent, regardless of Bale’s fee subsidising it, he is under pressure to deliver.

The benefits of having a Director of Football are clear to see in the calibre of the signings we have made, but the danger for AVB is that there will be a contingency plan in place. Should he fail to get the best from this squad, Franco Baldini will have a sheet of paper with managers names on it. A DoF is hired to ensure continuance in the plan, not continuance in the stewardship of the man in charge of the plan.

Of course these are just the over reactive emotions of a Spurs fan after a derby defeat. Spurs have some excellent players in their squad; time is now the only thing we need. Lamela and the other signings from the Friday’s transfer spectacular need time to settle and come to terms with not only Spurs but also living in a completely different country.

The result, despite what noise may be emanating from the red part of London, doesn’t mean a great deal. Just as when we beat them 2-1 at White Hart Lane, Champions League qualification and final Premier League positions are set in stone. We are only three games in. They may have celebrated like they won the war, but this was just the first skirmish. The battle goes to them, but the war goes on until May 2014.

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