Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
0 – 1 Adebayor (10)
1 – 1 Mertesacker (23)
2 – 1 Podolski (42)
3 – 1 Giroud (45)
4 – 1 Cazorla (60)
4 – 2 Bale (71)
5 – 2 Walcott (90)
(18) Adebayor quite rightly sent off
Lightning never strikes twice apparently but history does repeat itself. 5 – 2 against ten men Tottenham, the only difference being that the sending off of Adebayor yesterday probably had more of an impact than Scott Parker’s dismissal in last season’s corresponding fixture. Whether it was the reason for Tottenham’s defeat is a moot point; you cannot prove the argument either way. Certainly in that opening spell, the visitors were the better side and had taken an early lead through the former Arsenal man. By the time his sky in north London turned red, Arsenal were beginning to show signs of waking from their slumber. Who knows how the match would turned out with eleven-a-side? Who cares? I don’t.
There can be no arguments about the dismissal. It was a crude challenge, late with both feet off the ground, studs up. When the culprit’s manager refuses to condemn the referee, you know it was the right decision. That said, Villas-Boas believe Tottenham controlled the match, a point lost on Arsène Wenger,
If our opponents are in control from the first to the last minutes and we win 5-2, then I don’t mind too much.
The outcome was rarely in doubt once Per Mertesacker equalised midway through the first half. That’s not to say it was entirely comfortable with wobbles coming to the fore at the time Gareth Bale reduced the deficit to 4 – 2. It might have closer had he not snatched at an earlier shot, it might have been more had Theo Walcott’s control been better. To expect a team which has been faltering to immediately dominate a match is as unrealistic as denying that there were weaknesses in the performance still, nervousness. Of course there is and I would expect those nerves to be there for another few games, if not longer but surely beating Tottenham is enjoyable? If not, why bother with football?
Much of whether this is sustained will depend on the results. Three unbeaten is a good foundation; the performances will come, just keep the wins flowing. Get the confidence back, problems can be dealt with quietly, efficiently, away from the public eye. So long as the wins keep coming. That’s another day, I’m still enjoying the win yesterday.
Man of the Match was given to the eye-catching performance of Santi Cazorla, it could have easily gone to Olivier Giroud. The Spaniard was in an impish mood, switching to wider areas leaving Jack Wilshere to bring his spikey content to the middle of the pitch. Not that it was entirely evident at the start with Gallas denied his revenge by a linesman’s flag before Defoe broke the offside trap and saw his parried shot fall to the feet of Adebayor. It was a horrible goal to concede, Mertesacker woefully out of position leaving two opponents unmarked and in space. Perhaps the red card was the mischievous sense of humour from the Football Gods, irked by Adebayor celebrating in front of the home fans. Lennon might have doubled the lead shortly afterwards; this wasn’t going to plan.
With Adebayor gone, Arsenal exploited the space. Crisp passing stretched their opponents, pulling them out of position. The key to the equaliser was patience and Theo Walcott. The contract rebel’s cross found Mertesacker attacking the ball, the Tottenham defence stunned at a cross coming into their area from an Arsenal player. The German made amends for his earlier mistake with a firm header into the corner, a salmon-like leap to meet the ball. If you can have a 6′ 7″ salmon. A German double was ensured when Podolski scored via Gallas’ heel. It’s always nice for former players to come to The Emirates and relive the joy of scoring for the Arsenal…
Cazorla had threatened from distance, Giroud twice from closer range but it was not until three minutes before the interval that the duo combined to put Arsenal firmly in control. The Spaniard was tripped, stumbled as a result, scrambled to his feet, tore around the back of the defence and slid a pass into the Frenchman’s sprawling path. The finish was inevitable, Giroud is mocking his critics with regularity.
A comfortable lead established, Arsenal patiently sought more damage in the second half, in the process ceding territory to Tottenham. As time moved on, the visitors became more stretched, resorting to long clearances which merely served to return the ball to Arsenal. Inevitably, the fourth goal came with Cazorla receiving his due reward, slotting home following a surging Podolski run.
If that was the signal for an Arsenal onslaught, no-one had given the team semaphore lessons. Tottenham were allowed back into it. Bale had a long run unchallenged, panic ensued from a corner before the Simian midfielder ran into the space vacated by the Arsenal defence and shot across Szczesny into the bottom corner. Costello defending was spreading through the team but the lapses were rendered irrelevant in the last minute as Theo Walcott scored the fifth, Lloris distracted by what appeared to be a caterpillar crawling across the England international’s top lip. He later realised that Walcott was participating in Movember, preparing for next year’s campaign in advance.
Three welcomed points set the weekend nicely and put a more cheerful face on the Arsenal world, a win in the NLD always does that. Whether it is a mask or giving facial muscles a rest remains to be seen.