Positives & Negatives : Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham

First Up – What a cracker of a comeback. Victory is sweetest when you are deemed the underdog. I’ve said this in my earlier posts that Arsenal are at their best when nothing else except failure is expected of them. Even in this encounter, only about 40% of the football following crowd would have given them a chance against a Tottenham team in the best of form for quite some time. And even those 40% would give them the chance because the match was at the Emirates.

Enough talking. Let’s get to the point.

2 Negatives For Tottenham

1.) The loss can only be considered as a blip in an otherwise outstanding season. Even Tottenham fans will acknowledge the fact that even though they were expected to compete for the Champions League places this season, they have been punching above their weight in third position for much of it. The only thing that should worry Tottenham now is that this shouldn’t serve as a demoralising onset for the rest of the season. If Tottenham would have won this match, they would have been 13 points ahead of their closest rivals. Instead, they are just 7 points ahead now with 12 games to play. Added pressure, to say the least, especially with Manchester United being the next team that they are scheduled to play.

2.) Scott Parker won’t be able to appear in the match against Manchester United. Much of Spurs’ success this season has to be attributed to the brilliance of the Modric-Parker partnership in midfield. Parker’s boundless energy and ability to break up play are an asset to this Tottenham side and his absence will be sorely felt. Sandro is most likely to step into Parker’s position for the upcoming tie, but he is far more attack minded than the Englishman and really has to put in a disciplined performance, to stop the midfield maestro, Paul Scholes.

5 Positives For Arsenal

1.) The comeback was a testament to the character and resilience that is so often boasted of by Wenger. Wenger has said that this victory is one to savour and not only because it was a thumping given to your arch rivals, but also because it went to show that nobody other than Wenger himself, knows more about his team.

2.)  Tomas Rosicky is back (and out again because of a back problem). Rosicky was proving to be more involved and influential than Aaron Ramsey in the past few weeks and against Tottenham he played like a man possessed. Who would have anticipated Rosicky of all people to come charging into the box and slice the ball past Brad Friedel’s waiting arms. The goal is bound to fill him with a lot more confidence and we might just see a completely different Tomas Rosicky in the coming weeks.

3.) Gary Neville pointed out that Theo Walcott is at his most influential when he is playing in the inside channel, between the central defender and the full-back. If Theo and Wenger are keen on taking notes, they will realise that Neville is absolutely right. The two goals that Walcott scored in the derby were from similar positions. If they do acknowledge this fact, then we might just see Walcott not being a headless chicken from here on.

4.) The very fact that they scored 5 goals against a top quality Premier League team should give Arsenal some sort of confidence when they meet AC Milan in the Champions League for the second leg, where they need to score 5 goals (and concede none) to proceed to the next round. Surely AC Milan is a completely different proposition than Tottenham, but if the players want it as much as they did against Spurs, who knows, they might just make a match out of it.

5.) The team’s celebration at the end of the match gave a glimpse of the unity that exists in the squad and this should give a little reprieve to the concerned fans that even in the times of adversity, the spirit isn’t falling apart.

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Positives & Negatives : Chelsea 3 – 3 Manchester United

First and foremost, any team leading 3-Nil, after 55 minutes, at home, should bag all the three points. The very fact that Chelsea failed to do so, puts them in the category of the losers this week. Manchester United were brave and hungrier than Chelsea and at later stages looked like the side which deserved to win. It is a case of two points dropped for both the teams as those two points could have kept the competition away from Chelsea and would have helped Manchester United to pile up the pressure over Manchester City.

Moving on…

3 Positives For Manchester United

1.) Javier Hernandez again proved his worth in his substitute appearance. He is a better player, as compared to Danny Welbeck, to play alongside Wayne Rooney. Welbeck for all his running and harrying capabilities does not have the movement to create space or ghost inside the penalty box. Chicharito does. But, Sir Alex knows better, and if it ain’t broke why fix it.

2.) Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, with a combined age of 75 years, proved to be the difference makers in the end. Giggs provided a peach of a cross for Hernandez to score and was involved in almost every forward move that United made in the second half comeback. Paul Scholes, bossed the midfield after his introduction and put up a delightful array of long passes that included everything from over the top through balls, cross field passes and simple clearances. As long as United are able to reap the benefits from these two legends, they should do so.

3.) Wayne Rooney’s passion to play for United seemed to come back in this match. He was visibly upset when United did not get the penalty appeal, and seemed the most pumped up player when United started sensing a comeback. He is an altogether different player when he is at the right place mentally, and going by Sunday’s performance, he seems to have put behind his issues with Sir Alex (at least for now) and concentrate on the bigger challenge.

3 Negatives For Chelsea

1.) AVB’s poor decision making when it comes to substitutions, continues. An absolutely baffling decision to replace Daniel Sturridge with Oriol Romeu. Agreed that the substitution in itself was correct, as Romeu helped stem some of the attacks from Manchester United. But the choice of player for substitution was wrong. If there was any player who deserved to leave the field at that point of time, it had to be Florent Malouda. The Frenchman was absolutely anonymous and ineffective in the second half, and should have been the person to make way.

2.) Gary Cahill’s stuttering start to his Chelsea career. Throughout the match Cahill, looked threatened by the power and pace of Welbeck and was lucky not to get sent off within the first 15 minutes. There is a theory that says he will improve if he is put alongside John Terry instead of the eccentric David Luiz, as Terry is a more vocal defender and organises the defence better, but shouldn’t Cahill be better.

3.) Fernando Torres has had enough chances now and is still not gaining confidence, even after the pressure on him has relieved a little, following Drogba’s departure to the African Cup Of Nations. His ability to play on the shoulder of the last defender is lost. His shot taking ability is lost. His decision making ability inside the box is lost. If at all anything has improved, it is his overall work rate and assists. But he was brought in to score goals, and he is not doing it at the moment. Quite frankly, if he hasn’t been able to do it so far, it would be foolish to pin your hopes on him for the rest of the season.