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By Tony Attwood
Arsenal were brilliant in the first half, but Tottenham to be fair were worse than useless for much of the game. Arsenal are now eight points clear at the top, and also have the same goal difference as Manchester City. Tottenham are 15 points behind just slightly ahead the mighty Fulham.
The game was notable not just for the style and quality of Arsenal, but for also revealing the nature of this Tottenham side and some fans with the ludicrous attack on Ramsdale as he tried to pick up his gloves to run to the other end of the ground to celebrate with their fans. It just about summed the stadium up, although the commentators did have the decency to note in passing that this is a bugger of a ground to get away from.
For me, it has been a long time since I watched an Arsenal league game on Sky with the sound on, and from the very off it was utterly clear that the Sky commentary team were simply not briefed for, and not at all prepared for, the level of Arsenal dominance. Instead, as the build-up reached its conclusion there was talk of the danger of complacency by Arsenal. Really? Have they been to any games this season?
Instead, there were ceaseless excuses about Tottenham’s performance, alongside all the inevitable talk of Arsenal’s “failure” at the end of last season. Indeed so dominant was the pro-Tottenham talk that around 30 minutes we had five consecutive minutes of it. When Romereo fouled Martinelli, Romereo was praised for not following through further – no mention of the fact that it was a foul.
Only Merson was pro-Arsenal. “I can’t remember 45 minutes in a derby that has been as one-sided as this” he said, and indeed nor could I.
And given that the commentators in the ground had nothing else that fitted their pre-arranged agenda they carried on talking up the magnificence of the stadium. At least Merse did talk about how awful Conte is as a manager these days.
Sky couldn’t bring themselves to provide any possession statistics for the first half – Tottenham only had three touches in the Arsenal box in the first half. At least they admitted on 35 minutes that Arsenal were sweeping “spurs” away, and finally started to talk about the unforgivable defending. “Spurs are playing like little boys out there,” was one such. Note the familiarity of their approach. Not Tottenham, but “Spurs”.
In fact, at 37 minutes Arsenal started playing at walking space, to which the commentators then got agitated saying “Arsenal need to kill it off they can’t just keep on going forward.”
Interestingly Sky had arranged matters so that the away support could not be heard, but finally on 38 they changed the microphone mix so we could hear them. And to be fair some half an hour after the match ended they did finally show film of a Tottenham fan on the pitch attempting to assault the Arsenal keeper.
“You expect a Conte team to be really determined,” was one comment made a couple of times, but there was no look at recent results – these are professional commentators either they are not aware of the recent results of Tottenham or else… well I am not sure. We’ll run a last six and last ten match table in the next article.
There was also no comment about the way very few AFC fans were wearing anything red – it is indeed a terrible ground to get away from, both in terms of time and safety.
So overall the commentators kept it very very low key although they did loosen up in the discussion at the end as they tried to wipe from the memory the constant talk during the game that Tottenham were “not far away”.
On 49 minutes Kane actually had his second shot. By 50 minutes their manager was going berserk, shouting his head off. On 52 minutes we were told Martinelli was “allegedly” shoved to the ground but the Totts player quite rightly got a yellow and so the talking up of Tottenham went on and on.
By the end, the commentary was simply occasional words punctuating long silences, in a rapidly emptying ground. Very poor from Sky. Pretty damn brilliant from Arsenal.
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