Tottenham Hotspur played to a 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. It was a fun match, a good match and a nerve-racking match. It was also probably a fair result, one that will leave Tottenham happy with the point, and frustrated that they couldn't do a bit more to hold on for the win.
And Spurs don't go to the Emirates thinking, "we drew, but could have maybe done better" unless several players play really, really well. That was the case, with three players in particular standing out.
So was Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue or Danny Rose the Tottenham Man of the Match? The cases for all three:
There may be certain kinds of games where Younes Kaboul's lack of athleticism is a liability, but this was never going to be one of them. Even though Mauricio Pochettino wants to press high and play aggressively, anyone sensible restricts space and counters against Arsenal, and Kaboul was absolutely perfect in the role that he was asked to play on Saturday.
On a number of occasions, the midfield, fullbacks or Jan Vertonghen got beat. The man sitting deepest, ready to clean up the trash was Kaboul, almost every time. He didn't quite get to the ball on the goal, but he certainly didn't make an error on that play, and there were numerous other instances in which a failed block or clearance would not have constituted an error by any stretch of the imagination, but he was able to make that block or clearance anyway.
Even though no Tottenham player or position group was bad or even below average, they were outplayed by Arsenal for most of the match, and Kaboul's play was the reason that being outplayed for most of the match only resulted in Tottenham conceding once. With Federico Fazio or Eric Dier in Kaboul's place, Spurs probably concede three times. He was the most important player in winning this point.
- Kevin Mccauley
It's amazing to think that when Spurs bought Etienne Capoue last August, it was as an insurance policy. He wasn't supposed to be the man, but if his start to last season -- before he got hurt -- and this season is any campaign, he certainly looks the part. He's been phenomenal, and he never better than he was on Saturday.
With Ryan Mason stepping into the starting XI, the pressure was going to be on Capoue to hold down the midfield, at least defensively, and he did just that. Mason was fine after a shaky start, but he still made some mistakes and every time he did, Capoue was there to clean up. No midfielder on either team was as imposing and influential as Capoue. Always in position, tackling well and visibly commanding the midfield. even arranging the defense at times, Capoue did everything Spurs needed and them some.
Toss in a sublime through ball that could have led to a goal and his tidy passing that kept the ball moving or, when necessary, slowed the game down so Spurs could recover from the pressure they were under pressure and Capoue did it all. Supposedly a defensive, conservative player, he looked nothing like it. The Frenchman was a factor in every aspect of the match and shone above his teammates, not because they were bad, but because he was so, so good.
He was flawless.
- Ryan Rosenblatt
There were a lot of very good performances at the Emirates today, but the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest of is Danny Rose.
Now before we go any further it is important to note that this is not Rose's best performance against Arsenal. Mostly because he didn't do this:
Thanks, shocked cat. You should all go watch that again. I can wait.
Ok, moving on, since that day, Danny Rose has not been the best left back in the world, and consequently gotten his fair share of abuse from Spurs fans, including that mouth breathing "fan" who got caught on camera screaming invectives against him last week.
Well today, Danny Rose put up two fingers and told his haters where to stick it because he had an amazing performance in one of the toughest games Tottenham will play all year.
On a day when Arsenal decided to target Rose and run their attacks down his flank, Danny handled everything they had and then some. Rose looked confident, snuffing out attacks before they started and at the last minute, all while bombing up and down the left wing. He even managed to use his head for defense when he was flat on his chest. Though he was forced to come off late due to injury, Danny ended his day with an extraordinary 5 tackles and 4 interceptions.
The haters can find somewhere else to go, cause Danny Rose has the left.