Derby delight for Gunners over Spurs
Written By: Robert Halter
As the 169th North London derby took place in mid November at the Emirates Stadium both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were looking for an upsurge in form as the Gunners had just two wins in their last seven Premiership matches while Spurs had lost three of their previous four league games. The seventh placed Lilywhites were a point and one spot above the Gunners in the table prior to kick off. With sixteen years in the reign, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was opposed by Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas who had just started his Spurs career while Tottenham re-introduced their captain William Gallas and striker Emmanuel Adebayor as they returned to face their former Gunners. On nine minutes, Gallas had a goal ruled out for offside as he nearly came back to haunt his old club. But it was Adebayor that did undo his previous employees on ten minutes as Jan Vertonghen’s long range pass found Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe breaking through and as Defoe took the ball, Wojciech Szczesny failed to hold onto Defoe’s strike at goal and Adebayor forced the ball in from the rebound. Three minutes later, Aaron Lennon brushed past Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen, before striking a low effort narrowly past the far post as the Lilywhites pressed up field again. Although Adebayor’s afternoon was short lived after he received a straight red card from referee Howard Webb for a two footed lunge into Santi Cazorla in the eighteenth minute. It was a question of time before Arsenal drew level and the goal arrived from the unlikeliest of sources as Theo Walcott’s right wing cross was met by a rock solid header from the Gunners centre half Per Mertesacker as the ball flew past Hugo Lloris into the Spurs goal in the twenty third minute. A heroic one handed save by Lloris kept out Olivier Giroud’s goal bound header from a Jack Wilshere free kick, with the final quarter of the first half remaining, after Vertonghen had fouled Walcott. But Arsenal pressed again soon after, as Cazorla hammered a long swerving drive over the bar. Five minutes from the break, Lloris had to pluck from the air a Giroud header from Sagna’s cross but he was helpless in preventing Lukas Podolski giving Arsenal the lead three minutes later when Wilshere’s ball in deflected off Tom Huddlestone for Podolski to collect in the area with his strike hitting the back heel of a backtracking Gallas before the ball bobbled into the far corner of the net. But the Gunners had unfinished business and secured a 3-1 advantage on the stroke of half time when Walcott’s free kick was charged down and Cazorla raced to the left by line to deliver a low cross that was despatched into the bottom nearside corner by the outstretched leg of Giroud giving Arsenal a perfect tonic going into the break. On the hour mark, Arsenal added a fourth as Giroud controlled the ball in the air to set up Podolski down the left channel and his low cross was put away by Cazorla as he drove the ball into the right side of the goal. The Gunners gained further momentum as Giroud struck an effort over the bar, moments later. Spurs pulled a goal back through Gareth Bale in the seventy first minute, when Mertesacker lost the ball out on the left side and as he tracked back, Bale, managed to find a way past him and Laurent Koscielny with a low drive into the bottom left corner, after Sandro had created the opening. Bale threatened again three minutes later, by striking the ball across the face of the goal from the left side of the area. In stoppage time, the Gunners added a fifth as second half substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain raced down the right wing and found an unmarked Walcott in the area, who with the finest of touches, took the ball past the reach of Lloris into the far side of the goal as Arsenal’s 5-2 winning margin matched the same score line from the corresponding fixture last season.