Match Review: North London Derby, Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham
Yesterday’s midday kickoff saw Arsenal host their neighbouring rivals Tottenham Hotspurs. The last five meetings of these two sides at the Emirates stadium went in Arsenal’s favour, the previous a staggering 5-2 win for the Gunners earlier this year. Andre Villas Boas’ last encounter with Arsene Wenger’s victorious side ended with a 5-3 defeat at Stamford Bridge whilst he was managing Chelsea. But with North London pride at stake, both teams were eager to see past this and produce a game of excellence. New faces were partaking in this derby for the first time on both teams. Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla started for Arsenal who opted for a seemingly modern and experimental 4-3-3 formation. Tottenham stuck with their solid 4-2-2 formation and conjured up the competition for their ‘first choice’ role in goal by starting Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham appeared to be outplaying Arsenal during the first 15 minutes due to their domination of possession. The weaknesses in Arsenal’s defence were soon exploited by Tottenham resulting in a goal from former Arsenal captain William Gallas. Luckily for Arsenal, the goal was offside. Tottenham’s quick one-twos around the Arsenal defenders displayed the urgency to their play which was credited by a goal from Adebayor. The stadium roared with boos from Arsenal fans at their former striker who had lead to the start which Arsenal were dreading. Controversy was expected in this fiery fixture and arrived promptly, as Adebayor was red carded following an unnennecary, moronic tackle on Cazorla.
This advantage restored confidence in the Arsenal team. The constant, varied movement of forward play accentuated the talent which lies in deep Arsenal’s midfield – something which has not changed despite the departure of many large names. Walcott particularly impressed on the wing by playing in several tremendous balls into the box. He has 6 months left on his contract, and His last few performances delineated exactly why Arsenal cannot afford to lose him. Today was no exception, as he swung in a ball that Mertesaker got on the end of a headed into the top right corner. This goal demonstrated the tendency of Arsenal defenders to drift forward, which can often be costly should the opposing team counter attack. Fortunately, Arsenal’s ‘unsung hero’ Mikel Arteta presented additions to his astounding quality by regularly dropping back and stopping any of Tottenham’s progression forward. This left them with limited possession of the ball, despite their players swarming the box in attempt to focus on defending. Lloris was tested on numerous occasions.
The game capsized when Podolski scored the second for Arsenal. Gallas played Podolski on, but the German striker managed to slide the ball between his feet. It was evident that the visitors had made it difficult for themselves, and a comeback with 10 men seemed close to impossible. Tottenham defender Sandro was spared disciplinary action on various occasions, and his impulsive tackles were overlooked by referee Howard Webb. Eventually, Arsenal were awarded a free kick. Nothing came of it however, but reached Cazorla. He was tackled, but refused to stay down but instead responded with a pass to Giroud who slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. Half time approached with the score 3-1 to Arsenal.
Tottenham felt fresh legs were needed after the interval and made two substitutions – Michael Dawson for Kyle Naughton and Clint Dempsey for Kyle Walker. This expressed a more attacking approach, which would also leave them one defender short. Arsenal’s newly formed transcendent midfield allowed them to yet again conquer possession in the second half. Arsenal weren’t done yet, and it wasn’t long before Podolski played a tremendous pass to Cazorla who scored a well earned goal. Bale scored a second for Tottenham; however this was overshadowed by a pass which he failed to feed to Defoe who could have scored the third. Substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain showed him how it’s done by braking down the wing courtesy of his iconic pace, and passing to Walcott who sliced the ball past the keeper.
The game ended with a familiar 5-2 result which saw the Gunners come out on top yet again, as well as leaving the only London side to win their Premier League game today. This therefore raises the question: can Arsenal be captioned ‘Kings Of London’?
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Bakary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta, Santiago Cazorla, Jack Wilshere (Aaron Ramsey 71′), Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski (Andre Santos 79′), Olivier Giroud (85′)
Subs not used: Vito Mannone, Andrei Arshavin, Carl Jenkinson, Francis Coquelin
Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker (Michael Dawson 45′HT), Jan Vertonghen, William Gallas, Kyle Naughton (Clint Dempsey 45′HT), Sandro, Tom Huddlestone (Tom Carroll 71′), Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Jermaine Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor
Subs not used: Brad Friedel, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jake Livermore, Andros Townsend