Miscommunication in defence and a lack of creativity in midfield highlighted how Arsene Wenger's late August transfer market activity compared poorly to Harry Redknapp's
By Wayne Veysey at White Hart Lane
If ever there was any doubt about how a club’s transfer market business can directly affect the team then the evidence came at a White Hart Lane as hot of temperature as it was of atmosphere in another highly charged derby encounter.
The wisdom of Arsenal’s deals in the last 48 hours of the window was once again brought into question by the appalling miscommunication in defence and the absence of creativity in midfield.
By contrast, Spurs’ two late August purchases, Scott Parker and the on-loan Emmanuel Adebayor, were once again highly influential in the fourth consecutive league win for Harry Redknapp’s resurgent team.
It should not be overlooked that this pair and Brad Friedel, the third of Redknapp’s senior summer signings, were all purchased at the sort of bargain price with which Wenger has made his reputation in the transfer market. Few can claim that Spurs have shelled out extravagant sums to elbow their way into the elite.
Those who study the finances as well as the first team will also note that there is a yawning chasm between Arsenal’s wage bill (£124m for the 2010-11 season) and that of their neighbours (£67m in 2009-10) down the Seven Sisters Road.
By any reasonable reckoning, Redknapp’s team are punching above their weight while Wenger’s side are clearly not.
The conventional wisdom is that the north London rivals and Liverpool are locked in a three-way battle for fourth spot, given the clear disparity between their squads and those of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.
Spurs have gradually narrowed the gap on Arsenal following the break-up of Wenger’s 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’ but for the first time in the Frenchman’s reign that has just marked its 15th anniversary they looked better equipped for a 38-game league slog.
| SCOTT PARKER
Fine display in central midfield after being initially overshadowed by his opposite number, Coquelin. Should have done better with a one-on-one with Szczesny in the early exchanges but made some excellent interceptions, particularly in the latter stages.
| EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR
|7.5||The former Arsenal man was on the receiving end of some disgraceful chants from the away end but kept his composure with a controlled and inspired display. Set up Van der Vaart's goal with a smart cross and was a constant threat with his pace and power.|
Adebayor, who was the victim of some vile chants from the away end that was matched only by the disgusting abuse dished out to Wenger from some of the home fans, did not score against his former club but he laid on the opener for Rafael van der Vaart with a cleverly dinked cross and his display had a significant bearing on the eventual outcome.
The Togolese provided a threatening and reliable outlet for Spurs’ attacks with a controlled and tireless display, two adjectives that could not always be attributed to the striker during his chequered career.
Given his habit of starting with a bang at his various new clubs before taking his foot off the accelerator, the jury is out on how effective Adebayor will be once the novelty wears off but he has undoubtedly made Spurs a more effective team following his arrival.
Like Adebayor, Parker also has a 100 per cent win record in his Spurs career and the former West Ham man demonstrated in the derby cauldron the value of acquiring a player with Premier League experience and knowhow.
By comparison, Arsenal’s performance gave even more ammunition for those who claim the club should not have been shopping for unsold goods while the shutters were being pulled up on the transfer window.
As Per Mertesacker revealed to Goal.com last Wednesday, he was not even aware of Arsenal’s interest in buying him this summer until Arsene Wenger rang his agent three days before the transfer deadline.
The German has slotted straight into the team and played every minute of Arsenal’s six Premier League and Champions League fixtures following his arrival from Werder Bremen but he has been hampered by the club’s seemingly never-ending injury crisis.
Alex Song has made a reasonable fist of his makeshift centre-half role in the last two games after teething troubles but it is little wonder that he and Mertesacker looked like virtual strangers, because they are. The same goes with rookie right-back Carl Jenkinson, who was unsurprisingly even more at sea against Gareth Bale than Bacary Sagna had been before his injury.
Andre Santos, a Champions League scorer in midweek, was not trusted to start against Spurs, while Park Chu-Young, who was handed a place on the bench ahead of Marouane Chamakh, has only been seen in the Carling Cup since his move from Monaco.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the contribution of Mikel Arteta, the one man of the five late August signings who Wenger would have backed to fit seamlessly into his team. The Spaniard was neat and tidy against Spurs, but did not provide much of the vision that was once taken for granted when Cesc Fabregas wore the red and white jersey,
There was too much creative burden against Spurs placed on the 20-year-old shoulders of Aaron Ramsey, who went on loan to Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City earlier in the year as part of his rehabilitation from a career-threatening injury.
It was telling that the touchline advice of Wenger’s No.2 Pat Rice to oncoming substitute Yossi Benayoun was: “Tell them to keep the ******* ball”.
Although Francis Coquelin produced a hugely encouraging display to show he had suffered few ill effects from the 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford, Wenger’s team is playing like one that has been patched up together at late notice.
Even many Arsenal fans are now accepting the harsh reality that Redknapp has a stronger squad at his disposal than Wenger.
Given that Sagna could miss three months with a shin injury, Thomas Vermaelen’s latest comeback has been delayed and it will spring before Jack Wilshere is expected to be fully fit, the gods are conspiring against Arsenal.
But Wenger must accept his share of responsibility for the chronic mismanagement of the final weeks of the summer, when the club spent so long trying to squeeze every last penny out of Manchester City and Barcelona for Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas that they were unable to adequately replace them.
The high definition evidence was there to see in the White Hart Lane sunshine.