Arsenal FC took sole possession of third place by disposing of Tottenham 1-0.The Gunners were playing on the same Tottenham field where they last captured the Premier League title, and perhaps used the emotional tie-in for motivation. The shutout victory puts the club just four points behind first place Chelsea FC, who they will take on Saturday. Arsenal FC’s lone deciding goal came inside two minutes when Tomas Rosicky launched a bullet from the edge, and the club rode the one-goal advantage to a victory.
Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger admitted after the victory that it was an all- important match for Arsenal. He said that his club played the kind of mistake-free football that they needed to in such a must-win game.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set up the winning goal for the Gunners. He starting the sequence by kicking the ball out to Rosicky on the right. Rosicky returned the pass and once he was clear of Tottenham defenders Oxlade-Chamberlain found him again for the deciding shot.
Oxlade-Chamberlain played an all-around excellent game. In fact, Arsenal FC could have had at least one other goal when he stole the ball from Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb at midfield and charged towards the penalty area with the ball just inside of 15 minutes. The Gunners’ speedster attempted a shot on goal, but he fell off-balance and the chip shot went wide. Oxlade-Chamberlain had Lukas Podolski open in front of the net looking for a pass. Podolski was set up perfectly for an easy tap-in, but Oxlade-Chamberlain kept the ball and went for the score himself.
Tottenham found it difficult simply holding on to possession, let alone taking any high percentage shots on goal. In one of their few quality possessions, the Hotspurs were able to push the ball to their striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, but his shot landed wide of the far post just before the 30 minute mark.
Inside 46 minutes, the Hotspurs seemed to have regrouped and taken some momentum from Arsenal FC. They drove towards the Gunners’ goal and pitched the ball out to Nacer Chadli for the open shot on goal. Chadli’s initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, however, and when the goalkeeper struggled to take possession of the ball Tottenham still failed to capitalize. Chadli received yet another opportunity in the 52nd minute as the Hotspurs continued to put the pressure to Arsenal FC. Once again, however, Chadli let the scoring opportunity go to waste. The Belgian transplant attempted a long shot from the penalty area that was off mark.
Wenger had nothing but praise for Tottenham following his clubs much-needed victory. He said that the host team played admirably and had Arsenal FC on the defense much more than he would have preferred.
“We had an early lead,” Wenger said, “And we were juggling between protecting the lead and finishing the game off.”
After the clock expired and Tottenham was finally finished off, Arsenal FC could finally look ahead to next week’s match with league leader Chelsea. After the game Rosicky told reporters how the Premier League race this year was great for the fans and the victory today was great for the Gunners. Arsenal FC will no doubt look to Rosicky next week as well, as they look to ride the fleet-footed scorer to another victory. This time over Chelsea.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika