SIGN OF THE TIMES: Today's score at the Emirates up in lights
IT WAS a case of déjà vu as Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2 in yet another pulsating derby at Emirates Stadium. The final score mirrored last season’s encounter as the visitors took an early lead only to be pegged back in emphatic fashion by the men in red and white.
Spurs forward Emmanuel Adebayor, a former Arsenal hero, must be still wondering just why he put a pin in his team’s balloon, getting himself needlessly sent off when his team were ahead and looking good on 18 minutes.
Both teams came into this crucial encounter in woeful form. Normally you get a feeling for who is going to win a football match pre-match.
However, Arsenal and local rivals Spurs have both been in such abject form that pre-match the result was hard, no impossible, to call.
In their last few matches the home side have been 4-0 down to Reading (to win 7-5), 2-0 up against both Schalke and Fulham (to draw both matches) to underpin their inconsistency.
As for Spurs, a home loss to Wigan and defeat to champions Manchester City, having taken the lead, indicated their own topsy turvy current form.
It was almost two years to the day (November 20) since Tottenham’s last win at the Emirates – a memorable 3-2 victory having trailed 2-0 at half time. At one stage this afternoon they must have thought that this particular stat might have been improved upon.
This is Arsenal’s worst start to a season since 1982-83, when they had only 14 points after 11 games. They needed to secure all three points today. That they did so is credit to Adebayor’s madness and the home side’s grit and determination.
To add even more spice to the fixture – and none was really needed – former Gunner William Gallas also made a return to the Emirates Stadium.
Gallas had the ball in the back of the net after just nine minutes after a scramble in the Arsenal box; the effort was, however, ruled out for offside.
As is the way with Arsenal at present, they conceded a soft goal shortly after. From his own half, Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen’s raking pass found Jermain Defoe. The striker headed for goal and fired low and hard with Wojciech Szczesny only able to parry the shot. On hand was Adebayor for a simple tap-in after just ten minutes.
Spurs were confident at this stage and Defoe and Aaron Lennon both had chances to extend their lead. They were to pay for such wastefulness but not before Adebayor was to take central stage for the wrong reasons this time. The Togo striker launched into a high challenge on Santi Cazorla and was correctly shown red by ref Howard Webb.
Being a man to the good, Arsenal now had their tails up. Per Mertesacker headed the equaliser from 12 yards out on 24 minutes after good work and accurate cross by the in-form Theo Walcott.
Moments later Olivier Giroud forced Spurs ‘keeper Hugo Lloris into a fine diving save after 32 minutes as Arsenal sensed blood. A long range effort, which just went over the bar by Cazorla, signalled the home side’s new found status moments later.
Arsenal’s ascendency was confirmed when they went ahead in the 42nd minute. After good work by Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski fired home with Gallas found wanting on this occasion.
Arsenal’s revival was complete when the fleet-footed Cazorla engineered a chance for Giroud in the penalty area and the France international notched a well taken goal on 45 minutes.
The second half was never going to be exciting as the first period. Arsenal went 4-1 up when Cazorla finished neatly in the 60th minute after a fine cross into the box by Podolski after more positive industry by Walcott.
Home nerves jangled when the powerful Gareth Bale fired home a right-foot drive to make it 4-2 on 71 minutes.
However, it was to be Arsenal’s day when Walcott fired home after a pass by rampaging substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with just seconds remaining.