Below-par Tottenham too good for Arsenal

Posted by Dan Fitch

I have approached the majority of North London derbies with absolute dread. This one was different. While I wasn't 100 percent sure of a win, I also struggled to imagine Spurs losing. Arsenal are no longer the big bad bogeyman.

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In the end Tottenham won 2-1, yet still didn't have to play that well to earn the result. In recent weeks Spurs have had to snatch wins at the bitter end. On Sunday, Tottenham won the game by halftime and had to protect a lead. It's an entirely different discipline. The game felt more like an away performance than a game at White Hart Lane.

Arsenal had the majority of the possession in the first-half, but struggled to carve out a chance. Spurs were able to play on the break, which is where they have excelled all season.

The Gunners have struggled with defensive problems and yet, even so, the ease at which Tottenham broke them down was surprising. The passes played through by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Parker for the two goals were up there with the best, but the space that Gareth Bale and then Aaron Lennon were afforded was the sort of thing Spurs fans would have been appalled to see in the home defence.

It is an issue that Arsenal have struggled with all season and long may it continue. They are now seven points behind Tottenham and it is very difficult to see them putting a run together to overturn that.

Having gone down 2-0, Arsenal pulled one back just after halftime through Per Mertesacker. The second half was scary stuff for any Spurs fan, but if you analyze the events, Arsene Wenger's side actually had only two shots on target all game.

Tottenham didn't play well, but all of Arsenal's possession (60 percent) it was Spurs who created the most goal-scoring opportunities in both the first- and second-half. That says a lot about Arsenal, considering that Spurs have many glaring deficiencies.

Emmanuel Adebayor was once again terrible. What is the matter with this guy? Last season he was Tottenham's most important player. Without him the team couldn't function.

Thank heavens that isn't the case this season. Adebayor is putting in very little effort and it was a relief when he had to go off injured. It doesn't matter if Jermain Defoe doesn't score a single goal between now and the end of the season, at the least you can guarantee that he will put in a shift when it comes to closing players down.

In recent weeks it hasn't mattered if Spurs' lone striker played well, because Bale has covered up for any deficiency. Today was probably Bale's worst game since being shifted to a central role, yet he still managed to get on the score sheet.

The other scorer was a player that has not looked effective ever since everyone started noticing how well he was playing. On Sunday Aaron Lennon was Tottenham's man of the match. His first-half goal effectively won the game and his performance was wonderful in the second.

Once upon a time, every Spurs player would have to play a blinder and Arsenal would need to have an off day for the North London derby to be won by the outfit from N17. These days Tottenham can play pretty poorly and still win fairly comfortably.

They say that winning games when you don't play well is the mark of a good team. I think that we're watching the birth of one, and the best thing about Tottenham is there are also many obvious ways in which they can still improve.

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