The much anticipated first North London derby of the season has come and gone and it was a tale of another derby, a new manager, a new villain and yet, same result. The game started with a frenetic pace and looked like it was going to take the form of the last one which was also at the Emirates when Tottenham took the lead owing to some slack in defence (something Wenger chose to call brief re-organization in defence). Defoe stole the ball and had his shot parried by the returning Szczesny but unfortunately, onto the boots of Adebayor. The Togolese forward isn’t the most prolific around but wasn’t going to miss from that distance.
Those thinking the former gunner had learnt his lessons and was going to show some respect to the club that made him were in for a shock as he chose to celebrate the opportunistic goal. Little did he know he was going to make a deep plunge from hero to villain, a fall that was going to shape the game in favour of the Gunners. Over-zealousness made him chase every ball, (can someone please tell him that we have gotten over his exit and are better for it) lunging out at Cazorla in a potentially leg breaking tackle and was duly awarded a red card by Howard Webb (the referee was at his professional best and did the right thing). Sheer avarice cost him his Arsenal career, bloated ego cost him Manchester City’s and now indiscipline is set to cost him his Tottenham’s career. He is better off in China, just a thought though).
From that minute, the Gunners seized initiative and cruised to victory. Firstly, it was the German giant Per Mertesacker that nodded the Gunners level from Walcott’s teasing cross for his first ever goal for Arsenal and what a day, match and time to score it. His compatriot Lukas Podolski took the initiative and put Arsenal ahead when he nutmegged Tottenham’s defence and released a shot that deceived Lloris. Who else applauded the goal, true legends Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell.
It was the turn of Giroud to put Arsenal further ahead when he converted from Cazorla’s cross. The Frenchman cannot just stop scoring. After a rather quiet start to life in London, the former Ligue 1 top scorer is bubbling with life, having already netted 7 goals and the one against Spurs makes it five goals in five matches. At 3-1, the Arsenal of last season would have put the game to bed but for the Gunners of recent weeks, the game had just started. After spurning 2 goal lead against Schalke and Fulham, fans could just hope they didn’t make it three heartbreaks in a row. But it seems Wenger and his boys had learnt their lessons. Instead of gifting Tottenham a route back into the game with a goal, they made it almost unassailable when Cazorla scored a tap-in for the fourth from a sweet Podolski cross.
After the goal, Arsenal went for a brief nap allowing Bale to score a sublime second and give them a false hope but Walcott made sure the score line of the last two derbies at the Emirates was the same when he converted from a Chamberlain’s pass after the English youngster had mesmerized former Arsenal target Vertoghen who was playing as auxiliary left back in the absence of Assou-Ekotto. The Gunners could have scored more but decided to leave it that way to give the match a respectable scoreline. Good to do your enemies some favour once in a while (my guess though). Some pundits were quick to play down the score-line pointing to Adebayor’s sending off as a decisive moment but I say that it was a striker that was sent off and effectively, Tottenham could have switched to a 4-4-1 formation and with a goal to protect, they could have sat back hitting the Gunners on the counter. Conceding 5 wasn’t owing to their man deficit but rather the brilliance of Arsenal’s attacking play.
Besides the three points, there are some key things to note in the game.
Arsenal’s defence still needs some tightening. The goals conceded were too cheap and showed signs of
Complacency. Against a better side, the punishment could have been grave.
Seems Wenger has finally seen the light that Santos is totally useless as a defender but could be a squad player as a left winger. The Brazilian misfit has come on as a left winger in the past two games and today he did his bit.
Walcott also made a strong claim for the striking role when he took it on headlong after Giroud was substituted. From the position he scored. Wenger might just be set to give him his dream role.
Giroud is a complete striker. After his headed brace against Fulham, some pundits had begun to label him only an aerial threat but against Spurs, he showed he could also do business with his leg.
I sincerely hope this result would bring back the confidence that seem to be lacking in the team in recent weeks. With the next three matches been against Aston Villa at Villa Park, Everton at Goodison Park and Swansea at the Emirates, 9 points for Arsenal could see them cut the gap on the league leaders but the good news today is that the Gunners have leap-frogged Tottenham on the league table. (535)