Arsenal 3 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur
1 – 0 Adebayour (20)
2 – 0 Gilberto pen (42)
3 – 0 Gilberto pen (72)
In one ninety minute session, all of the preceding weeks headaches were wiped out, for two or three days at least. All of the determination that had been missing in some of the previous home games re-emerged to dominate a poor Tottenham team. The turnabout in performance, the intensity shown to try and win the ball was a stark contrast to that which had gone before; a reminder of years gone by with the quick and sharp tackling that you would normally associate with derbies from a decade ago.
Can I say quite categorically and this time without fear of contradiction: Freddie Ljungberg emerged from this game with a considerably better reputation than he went into. Instead of trading on his past, he did his damndest to live up to it. Sure he was tired towards the end but after the effort he had expended that is hardly surprising.
Tottenham will no doubt claim they were beaten by three contentious goals but they would be deluding themselves if they believe that to be the difference between the two sides; for the first forty five minutes they were not at the races, even taking into account Malbranque’s chance to open scoring in the first quarter of an hour. Arsenal did so within ten minutes, Toure’s long ball finding Adebayour in acres of space and for once there was no doubt about where the ball would end up. He looked composed, despatching the ball past Robinson with consumate ease. Was he offside? No, Chimbonda was playing him onside despite what the fullback may believe. If he felt wrongly aggrieved about the first he appears to have a good case for feeling hard done by with the first penalty. My instinct was that it was a penalty simply because of the manner of the tackle, both feet off of the ground, a scissor-like dive into Rosicky. TV replays later showed he got the ball; no matter, if you dive in like that there is a strong risk of a penalty being awarded especially as Poll was behind Chimbonda and so the deflection of the ball was obscured. Gilberto ran up and despite the ball going low into the corner of the net, it bounced a couple of times en route and did not look totally convincing.
The second penalty was equally as dubious, at least in the build up. I felt there was a handball but could not see who did it (van Persie turned out to be the culprit) but there was little doubt the Dutchman was bundled over. If the first were not the best penalty in the world, the second sending Robinson the wrong way was as good as you can ask for.
I have to be honest and say that I am defeated in the task of more reportage through the excesses of alcohol following on from the game; good to see the old faces but kids, too much to drink makes you feel good at the time but the morning after you realise that it is neither good nor clever…