What Could Become Real Madrid’s Achilles Heel Heading into the New Season?

Real MadridThis pre-season has made Real Madrid look very strong in the eyes of the world, beating teams like Chelsea, Inter Milan, and PSG. There are evident strengths that will make Real Madrid a threat this year like their offensive midfield and speed, however some issues have also come to light. This article will focus on two key issues that may cost Real Madrid a point or two.

Firstly, Real Madrid’s defense has been their Achilles heel for the past few seasons as individual errors and injuries have left the team exposed. It was very well known that the best way to score against Real Madrid was through aerial play, and rivals did not hesitate to take advantage of this. This issue diminished with the arrival of Diego Lopez and the emergence of Raphael Varane as their height gave the team a big boost, although it never fully left.

The arrival of Dani Carvajal has given Carlo Ancelotti an advantage in having Carvajal and Arbeloa, two skilled players who serve different purposes. While Arbeloa is noticeably better at defending, Carvajal is better at attacking and compliments the team with his passes up front. The team lacked this last year and we saw Mourinho improvising with Essien and even Callejon in a few instances. In this past game against Real Betis, Carvajal’s weaknesses were visible as he failed to cover up the attackers on time in multiple occasions.

On the left side, Ancelotti was gifted with Coentrão and Marcelo who, like Arbeloa and Carvajal, serve opposite purposes. This allows for the coach to plan his starting eleven depending on the rival and needs of the team. Unfortunately, it has been announced that Coentrão has asked to leave the team, a decision that Real Madrid will honor. This will mean a huge blow for Madrid as Coentrão has majorly improved in recent years. After Marcelo’s long injury break, he gained a lot of weight and lost form that he is just now finishing recovering from, which is why having the option of Coentrão benefited the team so much.

Now Ancelotti is left with Denis Cheryshev, whose natural position is attacking, the reason why he committed so many mistakes in the pre-season. Another option in case Marcelo is unavailable would be playing Carvajal on the right and Arbeloa on the left; we saw this option against Inter and it did not look bad at all. Of course, the last option would include the incorporation of Gareth Bale to the squad, which would be great as he can play in so many different positions including left back. In this first game against Betis, Marcelo showed how fit he is, and although one game does not determine a player’s reality, it was a good sighting.

In terms of central backs, Real Madrid have Sergio Ramos as the key player. Varane is currently injured and his recovery process seems to be taking a little more than expected, while Pepe has significantly dropped his form from 2012 and this gives the fans a big reason to worry. Pepe is nowhere near his best form and he was left exposed many times in this pre-season. Against Betis, both Ramos and Pepe committed errors that could have led to a different result had it not been for Diego Lopez’s interventions and a bit of luck.

Real MadridOther options include Nacho, Casado, and Mateos who, to be honest, did not transmit that “confidence” that a center-back should have in the pre-season. Real Madrid’s youth system is very big and filled with talent from where a great center-back can be easily found. Two better options than the three being handled, in my opinion, are Derik Osede and Diego Llorente. They made their debut last season with Jose Mourinho and had an outstanding, but unfortunately short, U20 World Cup with Spain, receiving compliments from Gary Neville himself.

Center-backs, because of their role on the pitch, are more prone to being suspended. Sergio Ramos has been sent off more than any other player in Real Madrid’s history, and Pepe can be, although has not been in a very long time, hot-headed. Varane has only received one yellow card in his career with Real Madrid for a non-violent action against Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, and we can rest assured that Varane is the least likely to be suspended. Suspensions will happen throughout the season for which it is good to have capable defenders ready to assume important roles, potentially in decisive games against the biggest teams in Europe.

The second issue is the lack of goal-scorers in Real Madrid. If you take away Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid do not score nearly as many goals as they should, and it is not because of the lack of opportunities but because of the poor finishing. With Gonzalo Higuain gone, which amounts at least 20 goals per season, there has been no adequate replacement signed. Karim Benzema can have a fantastic day, just like he can have a day where he does not appear at all, and with the two legal issues he is facing, we might see him away around February, which will be a key month. Against Betis, Benzema had a plethora of opportunities, many of which he wasted by being offside and caused the fans their first headache of the season.

The other two forwards are Alvaro Morata and Jesé Rodriguez, something very unusual for Real Madrid. Los Blancos, by default, always signs the best in the world, and although both youth have a lot of potential, neither is anywhere near the world’s top strikers. Looking back, Real Madrid has always had at least two strikers who made the top 15 as per everyone’s opinion. Raul and Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy and Higuain, Higuain and Benzema and so on. Perhaps this is a new approach, to play your cards on the youth, but to me it seems risky and very unlike the team’s philosophy.

Of course the transfer window is not closed yet, and it would not be at all surprising to see Bale join, which would mean a solid 20-30 goals per season. If we look at positioning, Benzema and Morata are the only options as 9′s. Jese playing as a 9 loses his creativity and the space he needs to be more deadly. He played as a 9 in the first few games with Spain U20 in the World Cup and his impact was noticeably diminished.

Aside from these two issues that have the potential to be costly, Real Madrid have a very strong team this season and a lot of money will be bet on them to win it all. Even with Alonso out of the picture right now, a strong midfield in Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Illarramendi, and Casemiro have given the fans a reason to dream.

To add on to them, the chemistry with which they communicate with the line up front is amazing. Isco, Di Maria, Ozil, Cristiano, and Kaka will be benefiting from a lot of good passing, fast play, and different trickery from each other. The midfield is undoubtedly Real Madrid’s strongest point and it has the necessary depth to last the whole season, even when injuries and suspensions are brought up, although this is not necessarily the case with the forwards and the center-backs.

Written by RMadridGirl

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Tottenham Hotspur Complete £7m Deal for FC Twente Winger Nacer Chadli

Nacer ChadliTottenham Hotspur completed their second summer signing last week when they sealed a deal for Belgian winger Nacer Chadli. The 23-year-old has been one of Holland’s top prospects since he made a name for himself at FC Twente after signing in 2010 from AGOVV Aplendoorn, a side currently playing in the Dutch 6th division. He joined Tottenham in a £7m deal, perhaps a steep fee, but if he can deliver like he has done at Twente it will be a bargain price.

Previously a Moroccan international due to his heritage, Chadli made his debut for Belgium in 2011 and is now a key member of the talented youth generation emerging in Belgium. Playing in the Premier League will be a massive boost for Chadli as he aims to become a first team starter in Belgium’s World Cup squad.

One very important advantage that Chadli has is versatility. For Belgium, he has played as a striker, while at Twente he was featured across the midfield. A perfect fit into the Tottenham system, Nacer Chadli may not be the typical export from the Eredivise. A hard working, industrious winger, he has the attributes to be successful in England. Andre Villas-Boas spoke of his versatility shortly after completing the deal:

“He’s a player who is extremely versatile and can play in several positions up front. He played with tremendous success on the left for Twente as a winger and as an attacker for Belgium.”

Tottenham heavily relied on the effect from both wings last season, with Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon as the focal point of the attack. A goalscorer as well as a creator, Nacer Chadli is the type of player that can win football matches for a side.

The signing of Chadli does raise the question of where Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey, and Lewis Holtby will play. Clint Dempsey perhaps would be the one shifted, his role in the squad last season mostly fit the bill of where Chadli would end up. However, Clint Dempsey’s contribution in pre-season may result in Nacer Chadli bench warming for much of the season.

Nacer ChadliThere is an argument to suggest that Nacer Chadli is not needed by Tottenham, but all three reasons mentioned above can offer what Chadli can do, arguably to a better standard. There certainly isn’t any fear that they won’t fit in. Gylfi Sigurdsson was arguably one of Tottenham’s better performers last season, contributing in important games in both the Premier League and Europa League. Nacer Chadli cannot expect to waltz into the Tottenham team.

Nacer Chadli will add more of a Belgian presence to the Tottenham dressing room, becoming the third Belgian in the team alongside Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele. A strong relationship with Dembele on the field could be a massive success for Tottenham next season. While it was all Bale last season, this season may be the time to talk about Tottenham’s “Belgian contingent.”

Dutch football website Dutch Football League drew a comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo: “Chadli is a very strong winger with great pace and technique. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, he tends to challenge his direct opponent skipping past him to set up a cross, or cut through the middle and fire off a shot with his right foot. His left foot is one of his weaker areas, but he compensates it very well with his almighty right foot. His shots are very precise and hard working. Fitting in with the physicality will also be no problem for Chadli.”

The site went on to say that fitting in with the physicality of the Premier League will also be no problem: “Nacer is a pure athelete and physically very strong; standing 1.88 cm tall he’s a threat for most defenders and it will be hard to knock him off the ball. Combining his strength with his pace, he wrecks havoc to every right-back in the Eredivisie. The comparison drawn between Chadli and Ronaldo are justified, although not on the same level; their pace, strength, technique, composure, and long-range shot are very similar.”

If Chadli can come close to these comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo, then Tottenham fans are in for a treat. Two Ronaldo types in the Tottenham squad may have them dreaming of a Champions League; the only task left is to keep Gareth Bale.

Written by Jimmy Cartwright

Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Bale Inspires Late Comeback to Hand United the Title

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityIt was a warm, spring, April afternoon at White Hart Lane; both teams went into the game knowing only a win will do. But both needed wins for very different reasons.

Tottenham knew they had to keep up with Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for the Champions League places. Meanwhile, Manchester City had to stop Manchester United from claiming their 20th Premier League title (for another week at least).

The Spurs mood would have been lifted with the news that Gareth Bale was fit to return to the starting line up. City were without the injured David Silva, and started with Sergio Aguero on the bench.

Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Mancini fielded the following starting players:

Tottenham Starting XI

Lloris | Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto | Sigurdsson, Dembele, Parker, Bale | Dempsey, Adebayor

Manchester City Starting XI

Hart | Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy |  Toure, Barry | Milner, Tevez, Nasri | Dzeko.

Tottenham, believe it or not, actually started the first half brightest; and were creating chances. None of them were too much trouble for Joe Hart though. Gareth Bale had a shot from around 25-yards, but was comfortably saved by Hart.

Then, on the 5th minute, after some good work on the right from Tevez, he played a brilliant ball inside to Milner. Milner then found Samir Nasri unmarked in the area and he slotted home to put City ahead, getting his 2nd league goal of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityFrom then on, there was more-or-less an onslaught of City attacks throughout the half. Spurs struggled to get near the ball and City players were finding space in the pockets and down the wings. Samir Nasri had another chance to probably kill off any chance for Spurs after he was played in by Tevez; he wasn’t able to add to his tally though, as the onrushing Hugo Lloris just did enough to put the Frenchman off as he poked the ball wide.

Edin Dzeko also had a chance for City; he was clean through on goal, but shot went straight at Hugo Lloris, who kept himself big and made Dzeko’s target smaller. Spurs didn’t really have many notable chances in that half, and you could say it was a real missed opportunity for City, who were in complete control of the game.

The main thing to point out in that first half was that Gareth Bale was unable to get in the game. He was very ineffective, probably due to him only having 2 days of training and only just returning from injury.

The second half kicked off and City were playing in a similar vein top the first. They were in complete control. But then came 3 substitutions by AVB, and that turned the game completely on its head. Tom Huddlestone, Lewis Holtby, and Jermain Defoe all came on  to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, Scott Parker, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who not for the first time in a Spurs shirt was very ineffective and failed to make an impact on the game.

Tottenham were seeing much more of the ball; and were creating more chances. They looked at totally different outfit to what was playing in the first half. City were then struggling to cope with the movement of Defoe, and Gareth Bale was coming into the game more and more.

Then came the Spurs equalizer on the 75th minute. It wouldn’t really be a Tottenham goal if Gareth Bale wasn’t involved. He was given the ball by Kyle Walker on the right on the 18-yard area, in acres of space. He played a wonderful ball across the 6-yard line and found Clint Dempsey at the far post to slot home.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityTottenham were then in the ascendancy and turning rampant. Just 4 minutes later, a great pass from Lewis Holtby found Jermain Defoe on the left, who cut inside onto his right foot and found the far corner of Joe Hart’s goal to give the home side the lead. 3 minutes later, and all 3 points were secured by none other than Gareth Bale. After being played in by Huddlestone, he took the ball quickly in his stride and chipped the ball over an onrushing Joe Hart into an empty net.

After a resounding victory over the current Champions, Spurs will have an abundance of confidence going into the final 5 games of the season. They will be confident of a top 4 finish and Champions League football next season; but City will know that it’s just a matter of time until United get the title back.

But City will be most likely to finish 2nd in the league and also have an FA Cup final against Wigan next month, so not really a bad season domestically for City.

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester City

Nasri 5′ | Dempsey 75′, Defoe 79′, Bale 82′

Written by OneFutbol

Analyzing the Future of the North London Showdown: Part 2

One of the Fiercest North London Rivalries in Years: Where Will It Lead To?

Now, I am not the genie in the lamp who predicts the future of the world. Nor am I the highly experienced sports journalist who knows everything about these two sides. However, I do have my views; so what are they? Here you go:

Arsenal vs Tottenham: Last 4 Results
  • Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur03/03/13: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal
  • 17/11/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
  • 26/02/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
  • 02/10/11: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal

Looking back at those results, it does not look like Tottenham are the better side, which they definitely have been this season. What shows they are the better side is their smart purchases, their nice sensible attacking football, and other things like the fact they’re higher in the league. Will that all be there next season?

One thing for that is almost certain is that Andre Villas-Boas will be at the Lane next season. But will all his players stay as well? Gareth Bale has been linked to quite a few clubs, mainly Real Madrid and Manchester United, but other names such as Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and more have been linked with the Welsh superstar.

He has already said his ambition to play in the Champions League regularly, season in, and season out. And if I’m honest, Tottenham don’t look the side they were two months back. They look like the side that got Harry Redknapp sacked after their poor finish to the season got them in the Europa League instead of the Champions League.

Will he move if this happens again? Probably, yes. But he has been warned that he will become one of White Hart Lane’s greatest legend should he stay there and prosper for his whole career.

My opinion, he will move to Real Madrid. It will be best for him to link up with great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, and his attacking flair suits their style of play. Without him Tottenham will not be half the club they are now. Don’t get me wrong, most of their team is good enough to wear the white shirt, but it will not be the same should he go.

If chooses to stay for a season longer or even the rest of his life, this is the future I see for the North London derby:

Tottenham Bridge the Gap and Take Over

Tottenham HotspurAs you can see by the title, Tottenham would go on and best the Arsenal side of today. More players will be attracted to AVB’s side should they grab that Champions League spot and fewer players will move to the other side of North London, to Arsenal, because the situation to a foreign player would be described as a falling wreck.

In this particular situation I would not see Tottenham winning the title anytime in the near future. However, FA Cups and Capital One Cups could fill their trophy cabinet, trophies that Chairman Daniel Levy would love at his club.

As for Arsenal, they would slowly maintain a fifth spot in the Premier League. A disappointment for sure. Players would not come through the ranks like Thierry Henry or Denis Bergkamp, young players do not want small wages at a club not progressing well. Older more experienced players would not join, they would believe Arsenal were the new Liverpool.

Not all of this could happen should Tottenham keep Gareth Bale. Arsenal could fight back and we could see another hugely fierce Premier League derby, much like the old Man United-Liverpool or Man United-Man City ones. The top four could be:

  1. Manchester United/Manchester City
  2. Manchester United/Manchester City
  3. Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur
  4. Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur

Now, what happens should Bale leave?

Arsenal are Back, Tottenham Back Down

ArsenalNow, Gareth Bale will have left to one big club for one big sum of money. Arsenal will have invested well after the recent fans complaints. Arsene Wenger will have shushed the crowd and guided his new freshly bought side to third place. No Champions League qualification round worry.

He will have new players, bought to strengthen positions where the weaker players were. He will also have a bigger deeper squad. Making some quiet small money signings as Wenger always has done.

Meanwhile, over the road. Spurs would be without Champions league football after a dismal end to season coinciding with a poor run of form from Gareth Bale, the Welshman said he lost belief and felt he had to leave. He is no longer here, no big signings for Spurs now. Bids being accepted by players staying put.

No inspiring leader to score for them every game. No player who you know can always produce magic goals. Goals, that is where they would struggle. Jermaine Defoe and Adebayor not netting for their side. It would be expected after last season they relied on Bale for the goals.

Which do you think will happen? Not just to do with Gareth Bale, what do you think is the future for the two North London clubs? Tweet me or comment in the box below.

Click here to view Part 1 of this article.

Written by Harry Robinson

Analyzing the Future of the North London Showdown: Part 1

No, this is not a match. Not a Premier League crunch match or Champions League, FA Cup, or League Cup thriller. What is it? This, my friends, is the real showdown of the two North London clubs. This is my take on the future, the past, and the present:

The Good, the Bad, and the Arsenal

ArsenalIn the past few season, Arsenal Football Club, the 2002 Double Winners, has neither been good or bad. That job was left down to Tottenham. The Gunners have not been bad. They have just not been the club they once were under Arsene Wenger. Frustrated fans. Players leaving. Those players winning. Worse players coming in. And worst of all, no trophies.

I know how you are reading it and what you’re thinking now. When you read it like that, it sounds like the most depressing time in the club’s history. However, when you think of the competition they have come against in recent years: the endless money spenders Manchester City and Chelsea, the relentless force of Premier League Leaders Manchester United, and of course, bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Of course, I cannot say it is all going swimmingly for Arsenal. They should be doing better, attracting better players, and most importantly, signing better players. Arsenal fans are in a divide. Some call for Wenger’s head (as a figure of speech!), while others stick with the man who brought them such glorious success. What is my view? Read on my friends, read on:

Arsenal Wenger or Arsene Wenger?

Should he stay or should he go? In my opinion, he should go. Who should come in? I have plenty of managers who fit the club perfectly but are at clubs like Dortmund, Juventus etc, places where you wouldn’t leave for a club fighting for fifth place.

Jürgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund)

Drooled over by many football fans as they dream of him coming to their club. Doing a fantastic job at Borussia Dortmund, relying on the youth system, purchasing little, and when buying, only investing in young prospects. The perfect manager, some may say. A great manager for any side, Man United, Tottenham, Real Madrid, and especially Arsenal. To be or not to be?

I guess the answer is not to be. A manager of that ability, at a club with such an exciting future wouldn’t come to a club threatening to become the new Liverpool and slowly fall down the table.

Roberto Martinez (Wigan Athletic)

Plays nice attacking football, much like the double winning side did in 2002. Also a very brave manager and plays a 3-5-2 formation in the Premier League. No other manager does this; a positive thing for Arsenal. I’m sure he would love to move himself from Wigan to North London.

Tottenham Hotspur: A Team?

Tottenham HotspurNow, I hope I’m not offending any Spurs fans. However, what I’m trying to get across in that subtitle is that are Spurs really a team? Is Gareth Bale the only thing keeping Tottenham in the battle for the Champions League?

Gareth Bale. He’s been so good this season there are rumors he will leave North London for Manchester, Madrid, or Barcelona for over £50 million. The Welshman has been netting goal after goal after goal and grabbing himself a few assists as well.

He has always been full of quality but this season, and he’s certainly shined. Not because he’s so much better than before, but because he’s been consistently good.No drops in form or niggling injuries (so far) compared to last season.

So now we have to wonder, where would Spurs be if he wasn’t there? Definitely not third and definitely not better than Arsenal. In the last few months, Tottenham have played only 1 or 2 games without him. What was the result in the last game he didn’t start? They lost 4-1 to Inter Milan. He came back for their next Premier League match, didn’t play his best, and the result? Again, a loss. This time 1-0 against Fulham.

In my opinion, the Spurs have a great side. One that could compete with some of the top sides over the years, but why are they not a great side without Bale?

The attacking genius of Dembele, the brave solid old English midfielder Scotty Parker. The new signing from Shalke’s Lewis Holtby, one of Germany’s brilliant young starlets. Hugo Lloris, chased down by Manchester United 2 years ago, a brilliant keeper keeping out the goals.

With all these great players, why are they not producing results without Bale? My view? He is their leader, the one player who inspires every single other man on the pitch to bust his gut and play for his side. Where does this put them in the future? Where is North London in the future?

Click here to view Part 2 of this article.

Written by Harry Robinson

Tottenham vs Fulham: Spurs Look to Seal Champions League Spot for Next Season

Gareth BaleMarin Jol’s Fulham will make the very short trip to White Hart Lane today as they face 3rd place Tottenham Hotspur.

In his pre-match press conference, ex-Spurs and Fulham manager Martin Jol urged the controversy surrounding Gareth Bale to remain at Tottenham for the rest of his career, and eventually become a White Hart Lane hero and legend. Martin Jol was the manager at the Spurs when Wales international Gareth Bale joined from Southampton in May 2007. Jol said:

“I saw Bale at Southampton when he was 15, we followed him and other people came in but I had a few words with his mum to convince him to come to Spurs,”

“With hindsight it’s very satisfying, he’s probably the best player in the Premier League at the moment and he shows it week in, week out.”

“I played him in his first match against Manchester United and he had better stats than any other player, and he was 17. Hopefully for the league and for Spurs he will stay because I think it’s a very good club for him. He’s getting stronger and stronger and playing in the hole he is probably even better.”

“Spurs is a big club with a big fan base and he could be a legend there. If he decides to go on to bigger things abroad it can be a risk. It comes off sometimes but not always.”

“But whatever he decides to do he will have a big future. Hopefully he stays in the league and I can keep enjoying watching him.”

Bale did not play in Tottenham’s embarrassing Europa League defeat against Inter Milan, and Tottenham’s support will be happy he’s back in the starting line-up after they were less than convincing as they progressed to the Quarter-Final of the UEFA Europa League.

STAT ATTACK: Tottenham have won their last six Barclays Premier League games against Fulham

Players will catch up with each other as they face their old side. Dimitar Berbatov returns to White Hart Lane after he enjoyed a spell there before moving to Manchester United and then progressing to Fulham. Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele face their friends after they moved to the Lane from Craven Cottage last summer. Martin Jol also returns to the Lane after he managed Tottenham from 2004 till 2007.

Dimitar Berbatov & co.STAT ATTACK: Fulham have scored a total of only two goals in their last eight top-flight games against Spurs.

Some Spurs fans will have to wonder today; will two defeats in a row to Liverpool and Inter Milan have taken its toll mentally on Tottenham’s players. If so, they could be in a real trouble as they look to stay in third spot. Last season it was all looking plush for the London club, and then a dip in form at the end of the season made them loose out on a Champions League spot, and Harry Redknapp got the sack.

STAT ATTACK: Fulham have only ever won 21 of their 104 Premier League London derbies

What to do? Welsh International and Tottenham’s star player has been told he will become a legend if he stays at White Hart Lane for his whole career.

STAT ATTACK: Fulham have taken only five points from six London derbies this season, while Spurs have 16, more than any other capital club.

STAT ATTACK: Only five of Gareth Bale’s 16 Premier League goals this season have come at White Hart Lane.


Tottenham should have too much for an inferior Fulham side. Bale, Dempsey and Dembele will attack the space and will be a huge threat. Bale will also be a big worry for Fulham from set pieces. Defensively, Tottenham have Michael Dawson returning after a rest in Italy. He should curb any Fulham attack with the help of Hugo Lloris, who was also rested at the San Siro in goal.

Score: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Fulham

Bale, Adebayor, and Berbatov with the goals.

Written by Harry Robinson

West Ham 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Gareth Bale Nets Amazing Stoppage Time Winner

West Ham v Tottenham HotspurGareth Bale, who played fantastically throughout the night, took his tally for the season to 15 league goals as he slammed a 35-yard rocket into the top corner past West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Welshman had himself put Spurs ahead in the 13th minute from the edge of the penalty area before Andy Carroll equalized with a penalty 12 minutes later.

West Ham took the lead in the second half when Joe Cole tucked the ball in to the far corner from a tight angle, but Gylfi Sigurdsson equalized from close range 14 minutes from time.

The game seemed to be heading for a draw before Bale struck at the death to move Spurs up to third place in the race for the Champions League, two points ahead of Chelsea and four points above north London rivals, Arsenal. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made four changes to the side that lost against Aston Villa, with James Collins returning in central defense and recalls for Guy Demel, Gary O’Neil, and Matt Jarvis with Mark Noble ruled out through injury.

Hugo Lloris was restored as Tottenham’s goalkeeper in place of Brad Friedel as Andre Villas-Boas went for height in the defense, playing Jan Vertonghen at left-back with Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker paired in the center.

Before kick-off, West Ham honored Bobby Moore on the 20th anniversary of his death. The World Cup-winning captain’s name rang around Upton Park during a minute’s applause with the former defender’s family on the touchline. It led to a blood-and-thunder opening to the game as tackles flew in and the rival fans goaded each other on a crisp, floodlight evening in east London.

Allardyce identified Bale as the man to stop before the game, so he must have been furious with the ease in which the Welshman put Spurs ahead in the 13th minute. Demel’s lazy pass gave possession straight to Bale 25 yards from goal and the Tottenham man worked the ball on to his left foot before firing low across goal into the bottom corner.

West Ham v Tottenham HotspurYet West Ham responded and drew level in the 25th minute as Carroll scored just his third goal of the season. The on-loan Liverpool striker won the spot-kick himself as he went down under a challenge from former Hammer Scott Parker, whose tackle was reckless despite him getting a touch on the ball. Carroll made no mistake as he rammed the ball into the top corner from 12 yards.

West Ham had goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank for keeping them in the game as he made two athletic saves on either side of the break to keep out almost identical headers from Caulker. The Finn then made a brilliant double save in the 56th minute, tipping substitute Sigurdsson’s curling shot on to the post and reacting quickly to save Emmanuel Adebayor’s header when the Spurs striker should have scored the rebound.

Two minutes later, the hosts took the lead. Joey O’Brien played a long pass to Cole, who stayed onside before bringing the ball down and somehow turning it into the far corner from a tight angle.

Jaaskelainen then produced more heroics with his best save of the night, touching Bale’s curling effort on to the crossbar at full stretch. Not to be upstaged, Lloris made a superb stop of his own to deny Taylor after the West Ham substitute was put through on goal by Cole’s clever pass.

Fourteen minutes from time, Tottenham leveled with the scrappiest of goals. West Ham completely failed to deal with a free-kick delivered from the right by Bale and after the ball pinballed around the penalty area, Sigurdsson was able to scuff home from two yards.

Then as the clock ticked to 90 minutes, Bale demanded the ball in central midfield, shifted it on to his left foot and rammed a shot into the top corner so powerful that even Jaaskelainen could do nothing. Simply stunning and possibly the goal of the season so far!

Tottenham are currently in 4th place with 51 points, behind Manchester Untied, Manchester City, and Chelsea. Only 1 point separates them and Rafa Benitez’s squad, while the Spurs have yet to play their 28th match at the North London Derby tomorrow. Meanwhile, West Ham stand in a disappointing 12th place, tied with Stoke City and Fulham but losing to both on goal difference.

Written by Pierre Sanz

Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur: North London Derby is an Absolute Nightmare for the Spurs

Arsenal crushed 10-man Tottenham Hotspur at Saturday’s exciting North London Derby in Emirates Stadium. The game featured 7 goals, 5 for Arsenal and 2 for the Spurs, and a red card, as both squads fought for a desperately needed win. Previously losing to Manchester City, this match extended Tottenham’s losing streak to 4 as hopes for the Premier League title are slowly slipping away from them. On the other hand, Arsenal looks to be improving as the year progresses, recovering from a dismal start and rising slowly to the top.

Emmanuel Adebayor, who was previously employed by Arsenal and now plays for the Spurs, gave Tottenham the lead just 10 minutes after the whistle. Adebayor beat goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to the ball and easily slotted it in to put Tottenham up 1-0. But the nightmare began 8 minutes later, when Adebayor was show a red card and taken off the pitch after a reckless foul on Cazorla. With a man up, Arsenal produced attack after attack, and they finally erased the goal deficit by making it 1-1 within 6 minutes of the booking.

Mertesacker managed to catch Wolcott’s right-wing cross with an unstoppable header that sailed past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and into the top right corner. But it was Lukas Podolski who finally put Arsenal up 3 minutes before the end of the 1st half. Wilshere and Arteta made a few exchanges as they progressed toward they goal and set up the German International perfectly, whose shot flew into the goal despite a slight deflection from Gallas. But Tottenham somehow conceded yet another goal before half time. On the 45th minute, Giroud handled a low cross from Cazorla very well and claimed another for Arsenal despite the large number of defenders in the box. When the whistle was finally blown, Tottenham, down 3-1, marched off to their lockers knowing they were in trouble.

The hour mark saw Cazorla score a 4th for the Gunners. Podolski ran up the left wing and made a nice assist that Cazorla put right by the goalkeeper and into the bottom right corner. But the numerical disadvantage did not stop Tottenham from scoring a second. Gareth Bale, who used Arsenal’s poor defense in his favor, shot the ball past multiple defenders and into the bottom left corner of the net, making it 4-2. On the 90th minute, Walcott added icing to the cake by exploiting Tottenham’s weak defenses and scoring another for Arsenal, ending the game with the score of 5-2.

The North London Derby puts Arsenal ahead of Tottenham, with West Ham the only team separating them. In 6th place, the Gunners currently have 19 points from their 5 wins and 4 losses. Tottenham, which looked to be doing fairly good at the beginning of the season, has dropped to 8th place following today’s match. With a 5-2-5 record, the Spurs currently harbor 17 points, just 2 short of Arsenal. Manchester City currently leads the Premier League with 28 points, followed by Manchester United, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, and Everton.

Written by FutbolPulse