On the 26th of February, Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat London rivals Tottenham 5-2. Nearly nine months later, Tottenham suffered the same defeat as Arsenal once again came from behind to win the North London Derby 5-2. A lot of thanks will have to go to Emmanuel Adebayor though as he saw red in just the 17th minute with a two-footed challenge on Santi Cazorla.
North London Derbies always proved excitment and entertainment. Scorelines like 5-4, 4-4, 3-2 and 5-2 are very common in said matches and today was no different as Arsenal came from 1-0 down to beat fierce rivals 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium.
Before today’s game, both teams were suffering from poor form as they both sat outside the top four, so a lot of pre-match talk was about whether or not either team will finish in the top four. This was built up by both managers to be crucial as both, Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas said winning this game will be crucial.
The game got off to a fast start with both teams going for it straight from the whistle and Tottenham thought they had took the lead when ex-Arsenal defender, William Gallas curled the ball into the back of the net, but haulting his celebrations was the linesman as he raised his flag correctly for offside.
Despite the disallowed goal, it was still Tottenham who drew first blood as ex-Arsenal striker, Emmanuel Adebayor pounced on the loose ball to tap home. After German defender, Per Mertesacker wondered off and left Jermain Defoe un-marked, the Englishman’s striker was saved well by returning goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, but Adebayor was there to turn the ball home. When he scored in the fixture last year, the Togo striker stayed still and didn’t celebrate, however today was a different story as he ran into the fans and taunted the home fans in doing so.
However Adebayor’s game turned sour when he saw red for a two-footed tackle on Santi Cazorla in the 17th minute. After the ball squirmed loose, both players went running for the ball, however the Tottenham striker decided to jump in and land both feet onto Cazorla’s shin which wound up all Arsenal players and fans alike. Referee, Howard Webb had no option but to show the goalscorer a red card.
Just six minutes after the red card, Arsenal made the man advantage count as Per Mertesacker scored his first goal for Arsenal and what a goal it was. After great work from Theo Walcott down the wing, he then produced a brilliant ball that was thumped home by the 6 ft 8 German international’s head. His first goal in England and what a fixture to do it in.
As expected, the game went from Tottenham being on the front foot, to Arsenal dominating the game and their domination was rewarded five minutes before half-time when another German found the back of the net. After a lucky deflection off Tom Huddlestone’s foot, the ball found its way to Lukas Podolski who managed to turn on the ball and take a shot that hit William Gallas and rolled its way into the back of the net. A very lucky goal, but Lukas Podolski didn’t care as he celebrated his fourth league goal of the season.
Things got worse for the away side right on half-time when in-form striker, Olivier Giroud, swept home a brilliant cross from Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard was tripped up in the build-up, but Howard Webb let the game play on and Tottenham didn’t react to this and when they did, it was too late as the low cross found Giroud who then placed the ball past Hugo Lloris. That was the Frenchman’s third goal in two games for Arsenal and it gave them a 3-1 lead at half-time in the North London Derby.
Andre Villas-Boas made a bold decision at half-time as he made a tactical change and put three at the back and also put on Clint Dempsey to try and turn the game around. It was a very positive decision by the Tottenham boss as a lot of managers would usually shut up shop and try and save dignity, but in fairness to Villas-Boas, he went for it and set up Tottenham very positively in the second half.
The tactics worked for the opening start of the second half as the away side were on the front foot from the get-go. Despite having 64% possession in the first ten minutes of the half, Tottenham couldn’t create a clear-cut chance and eventually their attacking ways were punished as Arsenal hit them on the counter and made it 4-1.
After Lukas Podolski had the ball on the byline his low cross was perfect across the box which found Santi Cazorla in the box un-marked and he smashed the ball home past Hugo Lloris. A great team goal by Arsenal as it was an efficient counter which ended with a perfect ball across the box and a nice finish by Cazorla.
Despite falling 4-1 down, Tottenham still kept their heads up and still put pressure on Arsenal and finally their pressure was rewarded whe Gareth Bale smashed the ball home from outside of the box. After having a very quiet game, Bale finally found some space and he punished the Arsenal defence by scoring a fine goal. 4-2 with twenty minutes left and Tottenham on the front-foot, it was fair to say Arsenal fans were getting edgy, especially as in the last two games they had thrown away two goal leads.
Unlike the previous two games, Arsenal managed to hold on to the lead and also extend the lead. After a simple pass from substitute, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott did a body feint past one defender and then placed the ball past Lloris to finish off the derby.
Tottenham boss, Villas-Boas said after the game he was proud of his team and that the red card changed the game:
“I think the sending-off determined the game, but the referee made the right decision. Players want to dispute the ball, there was no intention to do any harm.
“I’m very, very proud of the team. We had chances for 4-3 and if it had gone to only a one-goal difference, I think we could have gone all the way.
“We had the ambition and desire and I am extremely proud of the team.”
Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, is hoping today’s derby win will restore confidence in the squad:
“We came back into the game and got what we wanted, which was to win the game. It is not always easy against 10 – we have won games with 10 men. I thought it could become even more difficult because they could have dropped back and waited for us, but we had the quality and movement to play through their lines and create chances. There were some outstanding individual offensive performances. In the second half you could see that the confidence was not completely still there, I hope that this result will help us”.
The win puts Arsenal above Tottenham and into sixth with 19 points, as for Tottenham, they are down to 8th, with 17 points.
Before the game, another 5-2 win for Arsenal was 125/1, but that is football. Another derby that Tottenham fans will want to forget, but for Arsenal, another victory over their fierce rivals that sees their fans still singing ‘North London Is Ours’.
Alex William Batt