Five conclusions from Tottenham’s north London derby win over Arsenal

Tottenham edged out north London rivals Arsenal 2-1 in a crunch derby clash on Sunday at White Hart Lane, with two quick-fire goals in the first-half proving enough to claim all three points. The result moves Spurs back up to third place ahead of Chelsea, and leaves the Gunners five points adrift of the Champions League qualification places.

Aaron Lennon scores for Tottenham against Arsenal

Ninety Minutes Online works in partnership with FourFourTwo, and has come up with five main conclusions from the game here

Tottenham must be glad they kept hold of Michael Dawson

Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday sees them move back into third position in the Premier League and gives the side a boost going into the business end of the season. Despite the much-applauded attacking exploits of the White Hart Lane side this term, their dogged defensive efforts in their derby win must be recognised. Jan Vertonghen stood out with a masterful and assured performance at the heart of the Spurs rearguard, however captain Michael Dawson epitomised the side’s will to win in the encounter.

The England international has been a growing presence in a Tottenham team that have challenged for top-four inclusion over the last number of years, however with Andre Villas-Boas’ appointment in the summer Dawson’s future was unclear. With the Portuguese coach stating that he wanted only four central defenders on the books, it was Dawson who was deemed surplus to requirements, to the raised eyebrows of some of the White Hart Lane faithful.

Michael Dawson

A move to London neighbours QPR in the summer fell through, and Dawson remained at Spurs. Over the course of the season, partly due to injury to Younes Kaboul and a dip in form from William Gallas, he has found himself back in the side. Dawson must receive plaudits for doing the work on the training ground to get back in contention, while Villas-Boas must also be admired for revising his initial negative opinion of the player.

Gareth Bale has been the star of the show in Spurs’ excellent run of form recently, but Dawson, donning the captain’s armband once more, has added steel and heart in the Tottenham defence. He may admittedly lack the poise of Vertonghen or the speed of Kaboul, but countless other positive qualities were on show in the win over Arsenal at the weekend.

Dawson positional play makes up for a lack of pace, and he was in the right place at the right time to make vital interceptions and clearance against the Gunners. His anger at Arsenal’s failure to put the ball out of play whilst Emmanuel Adebayor was injured showed a real passion for the cause, while his jubilant celebration after the match exemplified his sheer will-to-win.

The Englishman’s inclusion also adds a dominant figure at the heart of the side, with his communication, organisation and team-work outstanding. Along with Scott Parker, Spurs had the leaders on the pitch that Arsenal lack in the derby.

Even when Kaboul returns from injury, Villas-Boas now must realise that his first-choice pairing of Dawson and Vertonghen must remain. The pair were a rock at the heart of Spurs defence in the win over Arsenal, and Dawson’s influence critical in a vitally important win.

Tottenham show mental toughness in win over Arsenal

Tottenham edged a frenetic north London derby 2-1 on Sunday, with two goals in as many first-half minutes ensuring victory for the home side over Arsenal. Despite a few nervy moments for the White Hart Lane faithful, Spurs showed the required determination and resolve to see out a game that moves them back into pole position for a Champions League qualification berth.

Tottenham’s attacking prowess and technical improvement under Andre Villas-Boas has been well publicised this season, with Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon typifying the team’s ability to strike in a split second with their well-worked goals against Arsenal. However, the most impressive thing to take from the Lilywhites’ victory over their rivals is the manner of their defensive rearguard, and mental toughness to avoid a capitulation that Spurs fans have been accustomed to in the past.

After an even first 30 minutes of the game Spurs took their chances well to go into the lead, and made the most of lax Arsenal defending. However, despite going into the break two goals to the good, the last two times these teams have faced up Spurs have found themselves in this position of power and somehow been thumped 5-2.

Andre Villas-Boas

At the half-time break Villas-Boas will have implored his side not to concede an early goal in the second half, however when Per Mertesacker’s header found the back of the Spurs net after 51 minutes, admittedly via a deflection from Gareth Bale, the game was on a knife-edge. Over the next five minutes Spurs were under the cosh from a rejuvenated Arsenal, and in the past they may well have lost confidence and shipped at least another goal. However this time round dedicated defending and a mental toughness got them through a sticky period, and allowed them to go on to win the game.

Many a Spurs fan will have utter the words ‘here we go again’ when Mertesacker’s goal crept past Hugo Lloris, but it was actually Tottenham that created the best chances to score after this, with Bale, Jermain Defoe and in particular Gylfi Sigurdsson wasteful in front of goal.

The defensive performance of Tottenham’s rearguard was admirable, with captain Michael Dawson and man of the match Jan Vertonghen a rock for the side, but the whole team showed the necessary dedication and never-say-die attitude to win a game that in previous seasons they would have thrown away.

As Villas-Boas says a place in the top four is not yet secured, and there is not yet a shifting in the dominant force in north London. However, a gutsy and victorious performance puts Spurs one step closer to qualifying for Europe’s top competition whilst simultaneously damaging the momentum of their most bitter rivals.

Tottenham’s new centre-half hero Jan Vertonghen has big shoes to fill in north London

After a protracted summer transfer saga, Tottenham have finally landed their number one target, Jan Vertonghen, who joins the north London club from Ajax. Much has been made over the Belgian’s addition, as the defender’s performances have had some of Europe’s top clubs sit up and take note. With Vertonghen admitting that he wanted to join Spurs over rivals Arsenal, a White Hart Lane favourite could well be in the making, but the new man has enormous shoes to fill in the form of outgoing captain Ledley King.

Homegrown hero King has been in all Tottenham fans’ hearts over the last decade, as the central defender has shown the White Hart Lane faithful mercurial displays, led those around him and solidified a team in transition. The well-documented injury problems that have blighted the ex-England international’s career have seemingly finally got the better of him, and as such the 31-year-old’s reign in north London is done.

At his best King appeared simply unmoveable at times, with Spurs fans having memories of the commanding defender thwarting rival attacks at will. With a number of changing and questionable centre-half partners over his 14-year tenure in the Tottenham first-team, King has exuded class and style from day one.

However, it is time for the King to step down, and hand over the mantle to another. Spurs’ dramatic fall from glory in early 2012 saw them slip from title contenders to scrapping into fourth place on the last day, and cruelly missing out on Champions League football. The turning point was the 5-2 hammering Harry Redknapp’s side took at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates in February, with endless Gunners’ attacks bring their rivals to their knees.

That day, Ledley King did not save the side like he had done so many times before, and as painful as it is for Spurs fans to admit, was out of his depth. Further injuries and more less than convincing performances followed, but the White Hart Lane faithful will opt to remember King as a Rolls Royce of a defender rather than the sidelined skipper.

With a change of manager, a busy transfer window predicted and a wave of optimism sweeping through the club, it is now Vertonghen’s turn to lead the Tottenham backline. The new man shares similar qualities with King, which will have Spurs fans praying for a new unshakeable defensive stalwart. Vertonghen’s versatility, ability on the ball, poise whilst under pressure and athleticism he shares with the man he has been bought to replace. His signature is a statement of Tottenham’s intent.

If Vertonghen replicates the assured performances that he showed as Ajax captain, Spurs fans may well have another defensive lynchpin to worship. For the time being, the Belgian has a massive job to follow in the footsteps of a worthy club legend.

Published – Soccerlens

Tottenham want Vertonghen, Vertonghen wants Tottenham; what’s the hold up?

With Euro 2012 in full flight, the inevitable summer transfer merry-go-round has been put on hold for the time being as the majority of Europe’s best players are competing in Ukraine and Poland. However, with Belgium not participating, the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne have completed transfer deals to Chelsea, and Jan Vertonghen and Tottenham have been involved in advanced negotiations over a summer deal. However, this has started to drag on – what’s the hold up?

Ajax skipper Vertonghen has emerged as a player being monitored by a number of leading European clubs, and as such this summer the defender will leave the Amsterdam Arena for a new challenge. Arsenal were early frontrunners for the cultured centre back’s signature, however a direct and no-holds barred approach from Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has propelled the White Hart Lane club to the front of queue for Vertonghen’s signature.

The defender has been to White Hart Lane to see the facilities, has considered his options and has openly admitted that his number one choice of destination for next term in at Tottenham. Given the player’s ability and potential to improve further, Spurs fans are rightly excited about a viable long-term replacement to the ageing Ledley King, and a major transfer coup for the club.

However, that was a fortnight ago. Since then everything has seemingly ground to a halt. Admittedly there are negotiations over a transfer fee and personal terms such as wages to be agreed, but Spurs need to act. Now. With top-quality players in short supply on the transfer market, Vertonghen will have no shortage of suitors and plenty of teams ready to steal the Belgian from under Tottenham’s feet. This deal should have been completed by now, and as time goes on Spurs fans are starting to see question marks and hear ever-increasing alarm bells.

Spurs need a new top-class centre back to give them continuity and a figurehead at the back. Without Champions League football next term Spurs will not be able to attract the very best, but Vertonghen is an excellent option for Harry Redknapp’s men.

Mr Levy, please forget that he only has one year left on his contract and pay an extra couple of million to bring in an excellent and season-defining player. Spurs fans do not want to have to be subjected to watching him stepping out in an Arsenal jersey next season.

Manchester United vs Manchester City, Arsenal vs Tottenham and the transfer battles for Europe’s best this summer

After going head-to-head in the 2011-12 Premier League season, the nation;s top five clubs are ready to do battle off the pitch and in the transfer market this summer. Here are the top five transfer wrangles expected between the Premier League big boys.

Eden Hazard – Manchester United vs Manchester City

Ligue 1 Player of Year Eden Hazard has been all over the media this week after announcing that a move to one of the Manchester clubs was on the cards; there is no doubt that the two fierce local rivals will be desperately fighting over the highly-rated 21 year-old in the coming days.

A dramatic last-day finish meant that noisy neighbours Manchester City were crowned 2011-2012 Premier League champions and considering their quest for world domination, many believe the Belgian starlet will favour a move to Roberto Mancini’s men. However, the young winger could find it hard securing a consistent first-team spot, with David Silva and Samir Nasri already occupying attacking midfielder positions. United however will look to the starlet to reinvigorate an ageing midfield if he moves to Old Trafford.

Shinji Kagawa – Manchester United vs Arsenal

The Japanese winger has been a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s Bundesliga-winning side, getting 13 goals and 11 assists for the German champions this season. With interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund will find it hard to keep their 23-year-old star-man, who is out of contract next summer.

Kagawa has already admitted his willingness to move to England, with a commercial value attached to the Asian superstar for his next side also. United are frontrunners for his signature, however Arsenal are also keen and have a recent track record of buying players from Dortmund.

Edinson Cavani – Chelsea vs Manchester City

Uruguay international Edinson Cavani has had a fantastic season for Napoli, impressing both domestically and in the Champions League, where he found the back of the net against both Manchester City and Chelsea. Both Premier League giants are interested in bringing the South American hitman to England, although City seem to be focussing more on capturing Robin Van Persie as their new attacker. The homegrown pair will be joined in the race by Serie A champions Juventus.

With the supposed exit of Ivorian veteran Didier Drogba, Cavani could be the perfect replacement, and having already shown ability in Europe, he could be exactly what Chelsea need if City purchase elsewhere.

Jan Vertonghen – Arsenal vs Tottenham

Another example of Ajax’s outstanding and prolific youth system, centre-half Jan Vertonghen is currently being fought over by north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Although rumoured to have already agreed personal terms, the White Hart Lane outfit could miss out on the 25 year-old defender due to the Eredivisie champions’ inflated asking price.

It is obvious that Harry Redknapp is intent on strengthening the defence, and the Belgian centre-back would be a perfect addition to the squad. However countryman Thomas Vermaelen is eager to tempt his international comrade to the Emirates, and Arsenal are still in the hunt.

Robin Van Persie – Arsenal vs Manchester City

2011-2012 Premier League top goalscorer Robin Van Persie has attracted serious interest from newly-crowned champions Manchester City, after scoring 30 league goals and winning the PFA Player of the Year award.

With one year left on his current deal, keeping the Netherlands international at Arsenal will be at the top of Arsene Wenger’s priority list this summer. However, with a natural desire to win trophies at the biggest clubs in the world, Van Persie may be inclined to make a move north to join former team-mates Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri.

Currently undergoing contract talks, the coming weeks will be vital in seeing what the future holds for the Arsenal hero. Money may also be a key issue; Arsenal are willing to shatter their wage structure and offer £130,00 per week, whilst City are thought to be eager to almost double this at £250,000 per week.

By Jacob Tucker

Arsenal’s ideal 2012-13 line up: The men Arsene Wenger wants for his starting XI next term

Arsenal have been through something of a rollercoaster season, starting very slowly before a revival has the north London side 90 minutes away from a respectable third place. Ensuring that the Gunners qualify for next term’s Champions League, Arsene Wenger should be able to bring in a number of new faces this summer, which could see the Emirates outfit challenge for the Premier League title in 2012-13. But what is Wenger’s ideal starting XI for next season?

GK – Wojciech Szczesny

The Polish goalkeeper has stepped up to the plate this term, and finally the Emirates faithful have a man between the sticks that they can trust. Wenger will look for Szczesny to continue his development in 2012-13 and become one of the most consistent stoppers in the division. Rumours have linked Swansea’s Michel Vorm with a move to Arsenal, and the north London club will need a backup with Manuel Almunia on his way out of the club.

LB – Thomas Vermaelen

The Belgium international is an important member of the Arsenal set-up, and Wenger will hope to have the vice-captain fit and available for the bulk of next season. With a raft of central defenders, Vermaelen may well end up at left-back, with Andre Santos a solid backup.

RB – Bacary Sagna

Despite the prominence and potential of Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna is the first choice at right-back and is an excellent defender. The France international has recently broken his leg for a second time, and Wenger will be keen to have the 28-year-old back in his starting line-up for the start of next term.

CB – Jan Vertonghen

The Ajax captain is in the last year of his contract with the Eredivisie giants, and is reportedly being chased by Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. Wenger will hope his side can win the race, as the centre-back would be an excellent addition to any of the leading Premier League sides.

CB – Laurent Koscielny

The French centre half has shown maturity and doggedness this season, and will most likely get the nod over Per Mertesacker if everyone is fit and available.

CM – Jack Wilshere

The Gunners have missed their home-grown hero Wilshere this term, with the England international not kicking a ball in anger all campaign. The Emirates faithful will hope to have their favourite back available for the start of next season, which will be as good as a new signing.

CM – Alex Song

The Cameroon international has been one of the standout performers for the Londoners this season, and is now a majorly important member of the team. Song’s combative nature in the centre of the park is complemented by a surprisingly excellent range of passing and boundless energy.

CM – Yann M’Vila

Wenger’s number one transfer target this summer, M’Vila has been imperious for Rennes this season and forced his way into the France international set-up. A £17 million deal has been touted, but Arsenal must fight off interest from Inter to get their man. If the battler does arrive in England it may limit opportunities for the likes of Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey.

AT – Lukas Podolski

The vastly-experienced Germany international has ended a long-running transfer saga by agreeing a move to north London this summer. Podolski will take some of the goalscoring responsibility away from Robin van Persie, and is a feisty and passionate forward.

AT – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The young starlet has shown glimpses of brilliance in his debut Premier League season, and will be in line for a regular first-team place next term. Fast, skilful and with an eye for goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain is a star in the making. Wenger will also have Theo Walcott, Gervinho and potentially Clint Dempsey to choice from.

ST – Robin van Persie

The PFA Player of the Year has been unplayable at times this season, and has on occasion single-handedly dragged the side to results. With one year left on his contract, the Netherlands international’s future will have a major bearing on the club’s fortunes next season.

Published – Soccerlens

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