Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal: Three Massive Points

This is going to have to be quick because I have a game myself in an hour and a half, but in short this is the sort of match that title-winning teams have to gut out on their way to a title. I'm not saying we're going to win the title per se, but I do note that we have won matches like this on the way to glory before.

The thing is, the lineup that Arsene picked was about the best we could have hoped for based on our injury situation. Kieran Gibbs returned at LB, Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were in the middle, with Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla as the front midfield three. A quick informal poll of O'Hanlon's confirmed that the only possible complaint was that no place was found for Mathieu Flamini.

As expected, the home side huffed and puffed right from the off, eager to tear into us in the manner that their manager did when he was in his playing career. We looked like we were playing off the counter from the opening whistle, and it only took three minutes for us to score a goal in precisely that fashion.

It was Rosicky's relentless industry that started it, with an Arsenal counter going directly through him. He played a one-two with the Ox, but the return put him a bit too wide...or so it seemed. I told people afterward that there was about a two-tenths of a second difference in my reaction - as he was aiming to shoot, I figured it wouldn't trouble anything other than the closest asteroid belt. A fraction of a second afterwards though, I thought: "Fuck me, that's going in!".  Sure enough, the bend and the dip on that thing ensured that Hugo Lloris has a snowball's chance as it whistled by him and into the far corner.

Fuck me, what a strike that was!

The second that went in, I figured that we would go on to absolutely batter them. This Spurs lot is not well-renowned for their mental strength, and they were playing a high defensive line that mirrored the worst of Andre Villas-Boas' tactics. It's true that we didn't have the raw pace of Theo Walcott to take advantage, but this 11 should have troubled them more than they did.

However, other than one breakaway that Oxlade-Chamberlain made a dog's dinner out of, I cannot recall a single instance of us so much as testing Lloris ever again. In truth, we were absolutely horrendous after we scored. The home side had 66% of the possession for most of the match afterwards, but it felt like that percentage was higher. Arsenal couldn't keep the ball if their lives depended on it. It's not that the Scum were doing well to win it back in the middle of the park - our decision-making was shocking at times.

Clearly, our boys were bricking it in a big match once again. I don't know what it is that leads to this inferiority complex that rears its head in these big matches, but it was there once again. As I told someone at the pub today, if we don't win the title it will be because we didn't take all six points off of Manchester United like we should have done.

Still, there were two men who did not succumb to the same fragility that the rest of this lot did. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker were twin colossuses in the center of defense. Even when Wojciech Szczesny contrived to flap badly at two crosses to hand the Scum glorious scoring chances, one of them was always there to clear the danger. No matter if it was that, or corners, or free kicks, or even the rare instances in which old friend Emmanuel Adebayor managed to stay onside...they were always there to calmly shepherd it out of play.

That was that, really. Referee Mike Dean showed roughly twelve million yellow cards (if we're being fair, Bacary Sagna was lucky not to walk for a vicious tackle in the first half, though we did have a stonewall penalty turned down in the second), the home side did nothing for all of their possession, and we saw out the game with much less fuss than it felt like as it was happening.

Despite how poor we were, we still exit this weekend very much in the title race (if someone could tell The Guardian that, that would be awesome - they seem to think it's only the Chavs and City). We'll learn a lot in the game against Chelsea - if we play like we did today, they will eviscerate us. Should we raise our game and see off Moaninho and his band of mercenary fucks, I have a suspicion that this season will reap more rewards than even the most optimistic of us reckoned with before the season started.

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szczesny 6, Gibbs 7, Koscielny 8, Mertesacker 8, Sagna 7, Arteta 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 (Vermaelen N/A), Podolski 6 (Monreal 7), Rosicky 8 (Flamini 7), Cazorla 5, Giroud 5

Man of the Match: Tommy has a great shout for his wonder goal, but I have to do something I don't usually do. We would have been utterly lost were it not for our center-half pairing, so this week it goes to the combination of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.