16 Conclusions On Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0

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Last Updated: 01/09/13 at 19:23 Post Comment

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* Feelgood story! Pauper underdogs prevail over free-spending fancy-pants! You could read plenty into a team that has spent £0million this summer prevailing over a team with £100million spent on it, not least that the chap that will pay for most of that Spurs spree might well be worth more than mere money. Of course, you could choose to read nothing into it, and instead enjoy that money isn't everything, and sport very often is utterly devoid of logic.

* This was of course a terrific victory for Arsenal, and a third morale-boosting win in a couple of weeks after their barren summer in the transfer market, but it says plenty about the current state of things at the Emirates that most Arsenal fans will have had at least half an eye on what happens on Monday. Who will Arsene Wenger buy, if anyone? The final result not withstanding, a look at the respective benches of the two sides will tell you that Arsene Wenger and Mr Dick Law (part-time Arsenal transfer bod, part-time PI) have a busy day ahead of them.

Among his substitutes Wenger named three youngsters with about 20 minutes first-team experience between them, and in Bacary Sagna a player who, to put things delicately, had apparently spent a fair amount of time in the smallest room all weekend. They were gritty, determined, ultimately better than Spurs and deserved their win, but already, after only three games of the season, they carried the air of a side clinging on. Reinforcements are required if they are to build on the encouraging five games post-Aston Villa.

* "Maybe we'll have a surprise for you," said a grinning Wenger after the game. Oh Arsene, you old tease.

* The manager rueing Jack Wilshere's injury/illness might not be Arsene Wenger, or even Roy Hodgson, but Alan Pardew. If Wilshere even looks like he'll be out for a significant period, with Mikel Arteta also unavailable, a final bid for Yohan Cabaye looks almost certain.

* He might be slightly limited, needs more chances than is ideal to score and the remarkable statistic that he's yet to bag a Premier League goal outside London isn't ideal for a team that, you know, occasionally plays outside London, but it's easy to see why you'd love Olivier Giroud if you were a Gooner. The Frenchman was excellent against Spurs, holding the ball up superbly, winning more aerial duels than anyone else on the pitch (seven), scoring the only goal with a beautifully delicate finish and even managed to fit in a goal-saving clearance off the line.

* That said, should Giroud get injured, Arsenal are - for want of a more elegant phrase - f*cked. With Lukas Podolski out as well, and Theo Walcott not a real central striker, no matter what he might think, the only alternative is Yaya Sanogo. Back to that transfer point, Arsene.

* Mathieu Flamini's return was also a Gooner cockle-warmer. No stats this time - simply having the man who Arsene Wenger once called 'The Little Corporal' back to shout at people was splendid.

* For all the money Spurs have spent on the front third of their team, one does wonder if a little more could have been laid out on their defence. Michael Dawson displayed that he is, was and probably always will be a solid but limited defender for Giroud's goal, firstly playing Theo Walcott onside by lagging three yards behind the rest of his defence, then losing Giroud as he delicately finished. Tottenham's first-choice central defensive pairing is probably Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen, but the former has barely played for a year - that's plenty of faith being put in a man coming back from injury. The weight of their spending on attack suggests a top-three finish is realistic/expected, but is their defence up to that standard?

* For the most part, Arsene Wenger isn't really a man you should be taking transfer wisdom from this summer, but he may well have a point when it comes to the number of players recruited by Spurs.

"I know all the players they have bought. For the rest, we will see how well they integrate and how well they will do. It is very difficult to predict that," said Wenger last week. "They try very hard (to bridge the gap) of course, that is normal. In our job, there is always a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a little bit the stability of your squad."

Spurs have bought seven players (at the time of writing), and of their midfielders and forwards, only Mousa Dembele had previously played for them against Arsenal. That this Spurs side is perhaps not yet quite knitted together is hardly an enormous surprise.

* "It's difficult because we don't have time to do that," said Andre Villas-Boas when that very point was put to him after the game. Difficult for sure, but as Matthew Stanger wrote last week, when £100million has been spent (let's forget the net spend stuff for the moment, lest we all be moved to drive a spike through our eyes) there is pressure for results, and quick ones too.

* On that point, a good reason for Tottenham's lack of potency and indeed them being behind in the first half was a lack of service to their lone striker, in comparison to Arsenal. Olivier Giroud received the ball 26 times, producing three efforts and one goal. Roberto Soldado was picked out by his teammates just ten times, producing just 12 touches and one effort, which was off target. It's not tough to surmise that the Arsenal midfield's familiarity with their centre-forward and his movement was at least a contributory factor to this.

* On the evidence of this game, Christian Eriksen could be Tottenham's most important summer recruit. Paulinho played in the more advanced midfield role that one imagines Eriksen has been ear-marked for, but the Brazilian was too ponderous to play it effectively. Spurs were missing an element of subtlety (and really have been since Luka Modric and Rafa van der Vaart left), a player who can pick a slide-rule pass and unpick a defence. Tom Carroll might be that man one day, but in the short-term, there's plenty of emphasis on Eriksen.

* The starter who one might think would be most likely to fill that role, Mousa Dembele, had a poor game. He recorded a pass completion rate of 94%, but he only played eight passes forwards - three of those were in his own half, a couple were only about two yards, and none of them created a chance. More is required.

* Of the other new boys that played on Sunday, Soldado impressed with his movement but as detailed above suffered because of poor service, Etienne Capoue was too slow and took three touches when one was required, while Nacer Chadli looked off the pace. Chadli was purchased as a squad player, and at present that's about all he looks, with Aaron Lennon, Erik Lamela and probably now Andros Townsend ahead of him in the wide pecking order. While it would be harsh to write him off after one game, Chadli's decision making, constantly picking the wrong pass or tentatively inching forwards when a surge was required, indicates he isn't a man to put fear into opposition full-backs.

* "To sum it up their best player was the goalkeeper," said Wenger after the game. Hugo Lloris is that rarest of things - a genuinely entertaining goalkeeper in a good way. There are plenty of stoppers who have the capacity for keeping things spicy by chucking the odd ball into the net, but Lloris is potentially the best keeper in the Premier League, as well as perhaps being the only sweeper in the division. His tackle on Walcott in the first half, charging from his area and getting a toe on the ball before Walcott had really realised he was there, let alone figured out how to get round him, was a joy.

* Even more good news for Gooners - word is that Nicklas Bendtner is off to Crystal Palace, with a pay-off in his pocket and a boot up his Paddy Power-panted arse. He will, it's probably fair to say, not be missed.

Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter

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