Adding to another emphatic week in the Premier League, Arsenal eased past fellow North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 in the 125th North London derby. After witnessing several spectacular encounters between the two sides in recent years, yesterday’s game had a weight of expectation and it didn’t disappoint. This game was almost set up like a soap opera as a multitude of goals were scored as well as a red card for former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor.
Spurs set up very attacking, starting both Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor. It was Adebayor who struck against his former side after an intelligent run by Defoe, Jan Vertonghen’s long ball found the Englishman whose effort was saved by Wojciech Szczęsny but Adebayor was there to follow in the rebound.
This was as good as it got for the Togolese International as several minutes later, Adebayor saw red for his poorly mistimed challenge on Santi Cazorla. A man down and 73 minutes still to play, this was a major setback for Tottenham, who had started the game very brightly and almost went two up through Aaron Lennon’s effort.
Wenger vowed before the game Arsenal will finish above their North London rivals, as they’ve done so every year for the past 17 years. Per Mertesacker’s 24th minute equalizer came after amounting pressure by Arsenal. Theo Walcott’s perfectly weighted cross was met firmly by the head of the giant German,who bagged his first goal for Arsenal since his move from Werder Breman last summer.
The Spurs goal continued to be bombarded with Arsenal attempts, but it was Lukas Podolski’s scuffed effort that bobbled off William Gallas and Olivier Giroud’s sweeping strike that gave Arsenal the lead before the interval.
At half time, Villas-Boas decided to change formation, taking off both fullbacks and replacing them with Dempsey and Dawson. Tottenham fell further behind as an attacking exchange between Giroud and Walcott sent Podolski away on the left hand side and his fine low cross was exquisitely controlled by Spaniard Santi Cazorla.
Spurs however courageously continued, refusing to be rolled over despite the score and were rewarded with their efforts as Gareth Bale’s solo run found the right corner of the Arsenal goal, much to Szczęsny’s annoyance.
Spurs began to mount late pressure on Arsenal and Wenger became aware changes needed to be made. Oxlade Chamberlain and Andre Santos replaced Podolski and Giroud and Oxlade’s link up with Walcott bagged Arsenal’s fifth and his second of the night. Arsenal took the spoils 5-2 with Cazorla putting in a man of the match performance.
Arsenal began the day in 8th place, a point and a place behind Tottenham. Having made their worst start to a campaign since 1982/83, and after difficult losses against Schalke, Manchester United and losing a 2-0 lead against Fulham, Wenger demanded a response from his players.
“This was a very important result for us today.”
“We still have to find stability in our expression. We need some more time to work on that, we are off the top, so we have not much time to improve, but hopefully this will give us a lot of confidence.”
Arsenal host Montpellier in this week’s Champions League fixture and Spurs are at home against West Ham in another London Derby.
Written by Farhan Daw
Follow him on Twitter @RarnieD
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