Ex Gunners: Spurs deserved draw, could have won with Soldado!

Roberto Soldado

Paul Merson has hinted that Tottenham Hotspur may have converted one of their many crosses had maligned striker started.

"Tottenham deserved a draw, you would be mad to sit here and say Arsenal deserved to win that match," said former Gunners midfield hero Paul Merson, a two-time title winner, in his post-match offering to Sky Sports. "I though Tottenham were the better team over 90 minutes but they just did not have that cutting edge, that player in midfield who is going to put the ball through the eye of the needle for you."

Like they had done earlier in the season, Arsenal slayed Spurs by the slimmest of margins as they handed their rivals a 1-0 defeat with their sole goal arriving in the second minute thanks to a Tomas Rosicky half-volley.

The win keeps Arsenal third, but narrows the gap at the top where Chelsea reside to just four points. Spurs, meanwhile, occupy fifth, are seven points adrift of Champions League qualification contention and are two points ahead of Everton, who have two games in hand in the race for an automatic passage into the Europa League.

Continued Merson: "Tottenham are on a bit of a bad run at the moment and you always run out of gas when you are losing matches. However I don't think tiredness is an excuse, I think they ran out of ideas, they could not break down the two Arsenal centre halves and got lost in the end."

There is merit to the argument that Spurs should have gotten something out of their game against Arsenal, rather than leaving their own stadium empty-handed. Tottenham did dominate possession, with a 59% split and also had 17 shots on goal compared to Arsenal's seven.

The Lilywhites also attempted an astonishing 34 crosses - one every 2.6 minutes - and Merson mentions that had maligned forward Roberto Soldado been fielded from the start, rather than brought on in the 82nd minute, then the under-fire Spaniard may have been able to rescue his own season while salvaging a point for his side due to the potential service he would have received in the box.

"Soldado must have been sitting on the Spurs bench thinking 'I have never seen so many crosses go into the box for a Tottenham game and I am sitting on the bench'."

NameMatchMatchdayTotal CrossAccurate Cross
Tottenham Hotspur Spurs vs West Brom 18 41 13
Tottenham Hotspur Spurs vs Newcastle 11 36 6
Tottenham Hotspur Spurs vs Arsenal 30 34 6
Tottenham Hotspur Cardiff vs Spurs 05 33 5
Tottenham Hotspur Spurs vs Norwich 04 33 6

The data table above highlights Tottenham's top five total cross tallies for the season, with their 41 haul registered against West Bromwich Albion their seasonal high and their 34 against the Gunners their third best.

Of the 41 made against the Baggies, 31% were successful and of the 36 made versus Newcastle United, only 16% met a Spurs team-mate, however, despite playing the full 90 minutes in both matches, Soldado failed to take advantage of any of the abundant crossing - would he really have fared any better against Arsenal, when Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were so majestic in defence?

When Soldado was selected for action against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in September, like the Newcastle and West Brom games he featured in every available minute, but returned no goal, even though there were numerous crosses sent in from the wide areas.

NameMatchMatchdayTotal CrossAccurate Cross
Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal vs Spurs 03 25 4

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