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August 2021

derby day: Spurs and Dean visit the Arsenal

By Phil Gregory

There’s nothing like an incisive and cutting RefWatch to discourage from writing a match preview which attempts to analyse on the basis that the relative qualities of the two teams will have a greater influence on the match outcome than the prick man in black, but alas I have my commitments, so here we are.

On the way back from football on Saturday afternoon – coaching the lads to a solid 3-0 victory I might add – I had a discussion with a Chelsea supporting pal about the game. Initially he dismissed my concerns over Dean, with the usual “you can’t blame the ref” but was somewhat interested by the frankly ridiculous winless run we have under Dean, or the disproportionate number of games Dean has reffed us in so far this season. For opposition supporters however, given they don’t witness many of our games and the subsequent controversy many just take at face value what is said on Match of the Day or in the papers, so unfortunately sympathy for the Gooners is in limited supply.

The big news over the last week for Arsenal has undoubtedly been the departure of Andrei Arshavin on loan to Zenit, which surely spells the end of his Arsenal career, with a permanent move this summer to be expected. Some derided this move as bizarre, but given it is fairly clear that Gervinho will be starting on the left from here on out, with Chamberlain capable of playing there too plus emergency options such as Rosicky capable of filling in it seems unlikely the Russian would have got much game time at all. A decent loan fee, his wages off the books and the fact that such a deal will make a permanent return to Russia much easier this summer suggests that this loan was a fairly easy decision to make for Arsène.

Leaving transfer talk and refereeing aside however, truth be told Tottenham are looking like a much better side this season than they have done in the past. Probably their biggest acquisition over the summer was Adebayor: Tottenham have really struggled with basically average strikers being relied on over the last couple of years, and indeed last season’s shower can be summed up with the stat that Defoe scored a mere four goals in twenty two league games in 10-11.

Moreover, a couple of their hyped players have really kicked on. Last season the Gareth Bale hype was frankly ridiculous: people were telling me he was the best finisher in the league and a phenomenal crosser; this for a man who only scored seven goals and recorded a single assist last season. Modric too came in for similar ludicrous overrating: a supposed world class midfield playmaker who contributed three goals and three assists in an entire season, good luck convincing me of that, we’ve had Cesc Fabregas! Much of Spurs’ improvement this year has come from having a very good striker – he may be a bit of an idiot, but Adebayor is a good striker – as well as Modric and Bale actually recording respectable numbers of goals and assists this year.

Moving on to the more pressing matter of the looming match however, the injury news is mixed. Gibbs and Koscielny face tests but could be involved, Coquelin has a hamstring injury whilst Ramsey’s ankle sprain will keep him out too. Squillaci’s groin injury will keep the experienced Frenchman out. Mertesacker will not be involved after his recent injury. Spurs have relative few injury concerns, with a few players who have been absent recently expected to come back for this tie.


Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs

Arteta Song

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Chamberlain Van Persie Gervinho

A couple of injury doubts make their way into my expected line-up, with the absence of Gibbs a potential headache given it would force Vermaelen back to left back. Given doubts persist around Koscielny too, if those two fitness tests go badly we could be very light at the back going into this game, which frankly is the last thing we need. Djourou could come in, but if Vermaelen is forced to left back we may have to put Song in there, to the detriment of our midfield.

Chamberlain goes on the right in place of Theo, while Gervinho goes left and Van Persie through the middle.

Given the Dean-Dowd situation surrounding this game, I was initially tempted not to bother watching which would be a first for me when the Arsenal are on TV. I did eventually decide to witness the drama unfold but then upon discovering it was a 1.30pm kick off the decision was made for me, as I’m refereeing a game that kicks off at 2pm.

As for score line predictions… I dislike doing negative ones so given the backdrop of the clowns in black I will decline to give one on this occasion. Enjoy the game as best you can Gooners, perhaps we can overcome the odds and put those upstarts down!



52 comments to derby day: Spurs and Dean visit the Arsenal

  • Stuart dolan

    Blame the ref. SAD. You goons really are getting tiresome. Hope spurs get a really soft penalty and wenger gets sent to the stands again.

  • Andrew

    Good post this. Speaking as a spurs fan, the only thing I would really disagree with is your assessment of modric and the goals and assists thing. That’s not really his game, he’s more a deep-lying playmaker who would for example pick out bale with a 40 yard pass for him to then assist. The creativity and the way he makes our midfield (and the entire team) tick is more his importance. When we missed him against Stevenage, you could really see just how good he is because we were just horrendous. If you compared cesc to someone on our team, he would be more like vdv in that he plays more offensively and therefore gets more goals and assists.

  • Gary Fox

    Now I can understand your reliance on statistics as opposed to observation. You make comments about the number of ‘assists’ made by Bale and Modric last season as if that ‘proves’ they werent as good as most intelligent and neutral observers of the game were making out. Firstly, the stats were simply inaccurate – I can name at least 6 goals where Bale produced the pass across goal or cross for Crouch, VDV and Defoe to score. Not only that but ‘assists’ only count when the striker puts the ball away – you’re right about last years strikers not being effective , so Bale is judged by you as lacking in talent because he lays on 15 tap-ins and only 1 gets put away! Thats why observers of football make better judges of players than statisticians do. Your attitude reflects the Curse of Opta – the Sam Allardycian approach that says that Player A must be more effective than Player B because he made 85% of his passes as opposed to 75% or ran 8.7km instead of 6.7. The fact that Player A ran around like a headless chicken and all his passes were safety-first 5 yard knock backs to his centre halves who hoofed it down the pitch – the stats dont see that. Its like your obsession with Dean – maybe he gets the Arsenal games because he gets the big games…and maybe Arsenals poor form against top 7 teams this year reflects therefore on their ability not on Deans refereeing. If I had only bought tickets to see Arsenal when they played a top 7 team this year, are their poor results attributed to my presence in the stand or the teams ability on the pitch? Of course, a referee can affect the outcome of a game far more than a spectator can but I think you should look more into the simple rules of cause and effect. Much as I hate Man Utd, its similar to the furore about refs favouring them with penalties at Old Trafford – statistically unimpeachable evidence exists to show that its true. That ignores the fact that observers would note that its actually because Man Utd are usually camped in and around the opposition penalty box! Oh…and they are pretty good at diving and intimidating refs too but thats only a small part of the story! But at least you’ve got your excuse in early for the likely 2-1 defeat.

  • Reece

    Andrew, cesc played deep for us for the majority of his career but was allowed to venture forward. Cesc not only got assists of assists, he got ACTUAL assists and goals. modric (and in my opinion any cm in the world) can not compare in terms creativity, passing ability and vision.

  • Gord

    My radar for avoiding the AAA is lousy. Hence, I am not well read across the various internet sources of dubious quality. But, from the few sources I feel I can trust, the opinion I have is that Wenger thinks highly of Arshavin. Russia is in Euro2012, and Arshavin is the captain. He needs more regular playing time. I see the loan to Zenit as nothing more than a way for Arshavin to get more playing time. If it reduces salary costs for a while, that is a bonus. I don’t necessarily see this as being an impending indication of him being sold.

    My personal wish is that the players NOT talk to the press before games. All the press is trying to do is wind up players and wind up fans in the hope of generating controversy (which sells news). That notwithstanding, Djourou doing the “me too” after Vermaelen on being forced to play wide, and then from everything I’ve read not doing well at all “in his better position”, would be a good reason to see some trading on the centreback front. “Me too” just doesn’t work for me. If Djourou really feels this way, maybe Wenger should bring up a U-18 to play wide there. I think Djourou would have been much better off to not say anything. I am not suggesting Wenger has to get rid of him, but the approach just doesn’t sit well with me.

    In any event, I wish Arsenal well on Sunday (it is Sunday there for you, it is still Saturday for me).

  • goonergerry

    I am sure there are plenty out there who will agree with Phil’s assessment of AA’s loan move back to his old club. I don’t think he will be back in Arsenal’s colours. Losing him now does seem to be risky- in case there is an injury to another forward player. It does seem to contradict what Arsene Wenger expressly told us at the beginning of the transfer window in January. I don’t really know what could have changed since then to change minds.
    Are Bale and Modric over-hyped? Maybe a bit- but they are very good players and Spurs have a few. Spurs are playing with a lot of confidence and the media love them and I agree with Phil that Adebayor is a major reason for that. His is a loan that I believe should never have been allowed to happen- given his salary is part paid by Manchester City. The media also love Manchester City- so there is no accounting for their lack of taste or values. I have yet to meet a neutral football fan who admires anything about Manchester City except the size of their owners wallet..
    The media talk about Spurs squad being far better than ours- the crap about comparing the 2 benches- one major reason for Spurs alleged superiority is they don’t yet play in the ECL- and after they have got over the novelty we will see a clearer comparison- perhaps when they start to experience the wear and tear that Arsenal’s squad does routinely have to cope with. Arsenal’s squad would look a lot better if we had 50% fewer major injuries this year.
    Spurs will be supremely confident of turning us over again today. Maybe the momentum is currently with them- but I don’t really see why they should if the 11 we field are fit and are not feeling sorry for themselves. Maybe it is time to show the world that Spurs are not as good defensively as they think they are.

  • Zgooner

    The Irony that you are refereeing a match at 2 while you describe the clowns in black is most amusing. Excellent article… I hope Dean misses his bus or something.

  • Anne


    I enjoyed the refwatch, but I enjoyed this article as well. Well done.

  • Anne

    And I would be interested to see how things play out with Ox in place of Theo.

  • Nice Post, dont think am gonna go to the Bar to see this match. But wuld relax in my little home, here in the Flemish city of Leuven and watch thru the game. Hope for gunners win to kick-start the season again.

  • JohnW

    No, Walcott will start. My biggest concern is not Spurs, but the ref, as we are on a long winless run with him in the centre. Brace yourself for a lot of controversy in this one, especially considering that Redknapp is the next England manager. All the same, i will go to enjoy my favorite team play, whether we win or lose.

  • The Stuart Dolan comment is really interesting. We present page after page of analysis, comparison and thought and he seemingly dismisses all the intellectual work as “sad”.

    And that in a sense does sum up a few (by no means all, but a few) Tottenham supporters. They are unwilling to look behind their current run of success and wonder if all is as it should be – not just with them but in football.

    I suppose for the Dolan’s of this world, corruption never exists anywhere. No politician is corrupt. No businessman. No football club. No referee. What a strange world that must be.

  • Stuart dolan

    Tony you old fool (how rude) I looked beyond the drivel and,well, you know just felt the bile rising. ARSEnal have disciplinery record. Spurs yet again will be close to the top of the fair play league. Count through the years and then see why refs may doubt your scum teams actions. Arsharvin will blossom now. Great player. Get well soon Greavsie. LEGEND.

  • Gary Fox – of course, assists aren’t the ideal measure: better would be to weight assists to account for the importance of the pass. But given the speed and relative accuracy of assist stats, they do a job. I don’t think it is outlandish to claim to that Bale and Modric were being overrated, and that much of Spurs improvement in recent times is down to both of them starting to justify the hype.

    I’d also say you’re falling victim to confirmation bias – when the stats don’t support your view of your players being the best thing since slice bread, you ignore them and emphasise the flaws. If Bale and Modric had ten or fifteen assists apiece I’m not sure you would have made the same assertions.

    On Arshavin generally – we may all be overthinking this. From Wenger’s press conference, it seems the Russian may have been tapped up.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Let the SAD Spuds have their day, they’ve been below Arsneal for so many years… They must be really excited to be on top for a change. Normal order will resume sooner rather than later.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    It’s impressive the correlation between claiming that statistics don’t matter and not being able to interpret them! Also much as we might loathe Sam Allardyce, he’s currently doing good things at West Ham.
    I also don’t buy the arguments against pass completion or km covered. If you play as an AMF, have a low completion % but lots of assists or key passes (opta’s term for an assist chance) you will be rated higher than a DMF with a better percentage. As a DMF, covering the first passing option whilst your teammate goes in for a tackle will make you look like a headless chicken but it’svital work for a pressing team.

  • I was very interested in your article on the game today. Also as an ex-referee I am little surprised you are going to ref a game instead of going to the “Library” or watch the game on TV. I know as I been there, that to play or referee a game is better than watching, but as a Arsenal fan and this being your “Cup Final” you are going to miss watching it live. On the match today I believe you must know that Arsenal and Wenger have lost their way and if form is any guide there is only one winner!!!

  • oxYid – assuming you’re referring to the Library pub and not the place with lots of books in, then you guessed my preferred football watching pub.
    I thought the game was a late kick off when I agreed to referee, so my own bad planning has come back to bite me. Oh well, I can’t imagine I’ll be too sad to miss the Dean Show.

  • bob

    Time for the Show Dean! Allons Les Gunners!

  • bob

    Just asking: Is your Ox-name there for our Oxlade?

  • bob

    First Half:
    + Le Great atmosphere
    + Parker went right for RvP’s ankle.
    + Constant, constant serial diving by Spuds.
    + Kos did not deserve The Dean’s yellow card
    + Terrible call on the penalty.
    + Theo has zero confidence, from 5 yards in front of everyone. Bring in the Ox.
    + Sagna rules! For the team and fans.
    + Arteta did not deserve The Dean’s yellow card
    + RvP brilliant finish! (be careful of SpudAttack)
    + 2 Real Goals to 2 Fucking Flukes!!

  • Kentetsu

    Pretty much agree with your assessment, bob.

    Kos got a yellow for having the temerity of being pushed and subsequently falling into an opponent. Arteta’s yellow I don’t know, as they didn’t show a replay, which says enough already.
    The penalty. What can you say. Arsenal has gotten plenty of phantom penalties against them before…

    Anyway, Arsenal is playing better than the Tots and if we can keep going for it in the second half, we have a good chance of taking the three points.

  • bob

    Dean has it teed-up now. Two yellows for each side. The next yellow to any of these four can likely decide the match. Really scary having this going into the business half under The Dean’s blind-eye.

  • bob

    Our 12 beats their 12!
    Kudos to the fans!
    Woes to The Dean and the ‘arried.
    Allons Les Gunners!

  • Mahesh

    Moral of the story: Keep Shard locked up beneath Emirates, only to be brought up on Match days!
    Another thing to note – one-twos between our players are back!

  • Gooner Gal

    Absolutely fantastic!!!!!! I am feeling too tired from the ups and downs of tense emotions right now. All the players did really well and a special mention and well done to Arsene Wenger, who again proved he is a bigger and stronger man than most men.

  • bjtgooner


    I agree. Shard – you are not going home!!

    But what a brilliant comeback by the team and, what a c**p perfromance from Dean – he tried to shaft us, but this time we were too good for him and the tinytots!

  • bob

    Even (Manchester) Guardians’ match-day Arse-Beatdown stenographer Jacob Steinberg has had to reluctantly admit: “The challenge now for Arsenal is to use this game as a spur for the rest of season… If they played like this every week, they’d challenge for the title.”

  • ak47

    what a game. not only the win but the 3 goal margin needed to get back to 4th. cant fault the effort. thanx lads.

  • Rich_Fryer

    Whilst the first goal was a fluke deflection, our defence went missing giving Spurs the freedom on the penalty box. Nerves were certainly playing their part. Bale has certainly added far too much diving into his game, which is a shame as he has so much talent and doesn’t need to do it.

    Massive credit to the team to come back into this – first 30 it just didn’t look like it was going to be our day, especially when RVP is missing by fractions and hitting the post, but the players didn’t give up at all. Special praise to Theo who didn’t have the best of halves for the first 45, and was getting stick off the home fans, but Arsene believed and kept him on and he raised his game second half.

    @Mahesh, one-twos improved as the game went on, and Rosicky was excellent – I think he was my MotM. Especially when he was still sprinting in the last 10 and Benny was out on his feet (although understandable given his lack of game time).

    Another big game next weekend – Come on You Gunners

  • Mahdain

    What a game.. Blowing spuds away is always a great pleasure but doing it in that matter is just orgasmic..a fantastic performance not even dean antics could stop us…that was a win against spuds,dean,dowd,riley,PGMO and Fa and two words would suit them perfectly…FUCK YOU

  • Mahdain

    P.S i agree with the others before me we need to kidnap shard and make sure he goes to every match. We cant let our lucky charm get away 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Mike Dean, Alan Sugar, Alan Brazil, Chas and Dave, Mike and Bernie Winters, Talksport, The Sun, Mirror, Guardian, Telegraph, Independant (and all Sunday versions), MOTD, The AAA and BBB, Le Grove….we gave your boys a hell of a beating today!

    The players were immense today, Dean did his best, but our twelve men beat their twelve men, in fact, they spanked them. Spurs title challenge, if that is ewhat it ever was died AG, destroyed by Theo, Rosicky, Sagna, VP et all. These players care, they just need belief and we know what they can do. Home to Milan?????? Believe.

    On a final note, worrying news for those who love omelettes or quiches or other such dishes you may be out of luck for some time, it has been announced the UK faces a severe egg shortages, as all available eggs are firmly splattered over the faces of so many after today!

  • Arvind

    Ha Ha ..missed the game 🙁 … friend texting me updates 🙂 … and why are there such few people. Where’s the AAA?

    As long as Shard is there we’ll win every game. Well done Shard 🙂

  • Arvind

    Oh and did everyone play well? What about the DC mystery player? ; ) Can someone please put out a player by player update?

    And when is this game replayed in India? Does anyone know? Thanks.

  • Mahdain

    @arvind im sure espn star will replay it one of these days and if u guys catch abu dhabi sports channels esp 5 then even better as they replay almost each pl game throughout the week

  • Arvind

    Thanks Mahdain…I’ll keep a watch out for the game. Where is your good friend Double Gooner : D

  • bjtgooner


    To compensate for the shortage of eggs, there should be plenty of peeled spuds around!

  • FML…
    Apparently our players don’t care, aren’t good enough etc.
    More like our “fans” don’t care and aren’t good enough.

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    Your opening rogue’s gallery…a wonderful middle finger to the lot of them. My very sentiments. Cheers.

  • Gord

    Congratulations guys!


    > on injuries to Rosicky and Vermaelen…

    > Unfortunately we had some bad news for Rosicky today, and Vermaelen as well. Vermaelen has an ankle problem, and Rosicky a back problem. I don’t think they will be available for Wednesday, whether they are available for Saturday is a big doubt.

    What is happening Wednesday?

  • Gord

    @Gord (talking to self)

    International break.

  • Mahdain

    @arvind i dont think our dear friend will turn up sure he has returned to his sewer *cough* le grove *cough*

  • Gary Fox

    Arsenal totally deserved to win – they showed more spirit and a better attitude. It’s what happens sometimes and is nothing to do with this sites bizarre conspiracy theories involving referees, Usmanov, FIFA and Mossad or whatever it is. Spurs first goal was lucky – but the defending leading up to it was woeful anyway. The penalty was iffy – but again, Bale got to where he was because the defending was pants. After that, Arsenal took over. Arteta was lucky to stay on the pitch – he had already been booked when he made a deliberate handball to stop a through ball – and he even outdived Bale. But as I said in an earlier post – Dean isnt biased; he’s just not very good. The result also demolishes your conspiracy theory doesnt it? It was Spurs who had a player sent off (the first yellow was dubious……. as was Kos’s to be honest) and another booked for kicking the ball away when the replay showed that Modric played the ball before the whistle was blown. As I say, Dean just isnt very good. Arsenal deserved it today – but dont let this one result paper over the cracks – your team doesnt have the heart or mindset to play like this every week and that should worry you. Its great to be up for a N London derby but ask yourself why you cant do it against lesser teams? We’ve been there as Spurs fans so we know how misleading one good result can be – you are still 5-6 players away from being the force you were, and RVP will be on his toes if you dont get Champions League. Spurs are improving and are rightly 3rd in the League on overall form this season. You are rightly 4th but are battling with Chelski for that final spot – and I’d back them if I had to choose as they have quality players and a poor manager; you have a decent if misguided manager but a lack of quality – today you played above yourselves but that wont get you into 4th place.

  • Shard

    Dean is a cunt and he was called out on it by the crowd in the first half. The fact that Arsenal’s defending was poor for the goals is neither here nor there. Dean isn’t good. But Dean is also a cheat. The crowd chanted that today. As they did at Bale. (Tell me there’ll be Bale is a cheat headlines in tomorrow’s papers) From what I’ve heard Parker was lucky to not get a straight red, and I definitely felt Spurs put in a few tackles to try to injure Arsenal players rather than anything else. Friedel was wasting time till we got two goals back and then when we scored the third he was sprinting. Funny. Spurs were diving all over the place and pretending to be injured. The annoying moment for me was at the end of the first half when we had all the momentum going for us, we played the ball out for Adebayor who was pretending to be injured. I don’t want Arsenal to do that, but I also can’t help but admire it. Spurs had just dived for a penalty, we had probably been denied a penalty, and yet we stop to let them recover and break up our momentum.

    Anyway, the atmosphere was great at the Grove. The crowd (including me-sore throat and all) were shouting and singing at the top of our lungs. After going 2-0 up the Spurs fans were in good voice but we drowned them out. And at the end, “We can see you sneaking out” was sung at the rapidly disappearing lilywhites.

    A brilliant Sagna goal, a beauty of a curler from RVP, and finally a Rosicky goal. All crucial. Theo had had a horrid first half, but recovered to give us 2 second half goals which helped us secure the result. Kudos to the entire team today, and I thought the crowd was brilliant. This is what the atmosphere should be like at every game. Maybe that will help the performance every time too.

  • Basil

    Stuart Dolan what has the fair play league got to do with anything? I wouldn’t have a clue where Arsenal are or have been in the fair play table;i suppose when you haven’t won a league for 50 years you clutch at straws.I’ll tell you something else for nothing;once players get used to being in the CL,they soon decide that being in it is not enough,they want to win the damn thing.With Real,.Barca and Man city about,neither Spurs OR Arsenal are likely to win it any time soon.Unless you can bribe them with really high wages your best players, just like ours, will be off in search of trophies,and seeing as you have a staduim to fund, i don’t think Levy will keep turning down big money offers.Lets see you stay in the CL whilst building and paying for a staduim.I’d say stick to your own blogs but i forgot 5pud2 can’t read or write11

  • bob

    …so well done, great coverage – even reclaiming our name, The Grove, by name, from well, you know the aaa-usurpers 🙂

  • Chowdhury

    A High5-2 all the Spuds Fans out there.
    Oh yeah. There is ONLY ONE team in London. 🙂

  • Mahdain

    dean was celebrating when saha scored..look at it again and youll see

  • FinnGooner

    I can’t wait to watch full match tonight (I haven’t had chance to do it before). Yesterday while I waited for my bags at airport I turned my phone on and saw it was 2-2 at halftime. I got home and saw last 10 minutes (with score already 5-2) so I was happy to be home. this morning I have tried to catch up what has happened last week, I was in Israel and Jordan and only English news channells were Sky and CNN (I don’t relly like either) so those few minutes that TV wa on I watched music channel or some English/American shows.

  • goonergerry

    Sometimes you just have to be grateful for being alive to witness it- and this was one of those games. Some people talk about the lack of leadership at the club- but I have been massively impressed by RVP since he has been captain.

    I reckon that RVP is the best captain this club has had since TA. Unlike TA RVP is a great player as well as a leader. Just watch the warm up again. Yes we were pumped for this one. It is the best closing down I have seen from us for a very long time- what a difference it makes. Its probably not sustainable week in week out but Rosicky was absolutely magnificent and became the player I thought he once was when Dortmund paid 18m for him.

    In all honesty I agree in part with Bob that yet again our players were getting booked for competing-putting your foot in-but not injuring opponents- unlike dirty Parker who twice dived in over the ball, once on RVP and once on Vermaelen. The second deserved a straight red.

    The Bale penalty was a convincing dive and I don’t blame the officials at the time-it took 2 slow motion replays from different angles to see that the Spurs player dived. Bale is a difficult opponent -but also a diver. He is also a crap defender- but no one mentions this.

    Spurs conceded 5-and were lucky to do so- yet no one in the media mentions how crap their defending was. They can definitely be got at.

    I am just grateful that Dean did not send our keeper off- because it would have been game over if he had- and thats why I don’t think he is corrupt on this occasion. Dean could easily have ended this game as a contest but he didn’t.
    It was great to see Harry suffer during this game. He hasn’t the record or the substance to be England’s next manager.

  • “I am just grateful that Dean did not send our keeper off- because it would have been game over if he had- and thats why I don’t think he is corrupt on this occasion. Dean could easily have ended this game as a contest but he didn’t.”
    If he had sent Szcznesy off for what he probably reckoned was a dive, what do you think would happen? He’d need a Police escort to get out of the stadium alive and the resulting brawl would ruin his career forever.