With some of the players performing to the level of expectation set by the fans earlier this season, nothing gets much better than seeing Arsenal thumping arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur on the North London derby day. With living legends like Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell watching from the stands, the pressure was high for Arsenal.
Nerves and anxiety were familiar around the Arsenal fans before the game. Arsenal were without a win in their last 3 matches before yesterday’s match and collecting three points was a must for the team to keep their hopes alive of finishing in the top-4. With the likes of Podolski and Cazorla back to their best, Arsenal enjoyed a 5-2 win against ten-man Tottenham whose bad-boy striker Adebayor was dully sent-off for a rash tackle on Cazorla inside the 20 minutes.
Tottenham started off brightly, creating chance after chance and almost took the lead when former Arsenal captain William Gallas hitting the back of the net only for his goal was rightly ruled offside. A couple of minutes later, another former Arsenal player Emmanuel Adebayor set up a typically hectic meeting with a 10th minute opener at the Emirates Stadium to silence the abusing Arsenal fans. He poached in the rebound after Wojciech Szczesny (I still have difficulties pronouncing his name !) could only palm Jermaine Defoe’s shot. A nightmare for the constantly vulnerable Arsenal defence.
But Adebayor’s flying start ended in a terrible fashion. In the 18th minute, he was shown a straight red for a studs-up sliding challenge which hit Cazorla’s ankle. A moment which sparked a controversy between both teams. Adebayor could only blame himself as he walked off down the tunnel jeered by the Arsenal fans. His team could only hold onto their lead for six minutes before Mertesacker’s fantastic header from a Walcott’s cross equalised for the home-side. That was the German’s first ever goal for the club after joining in more than a year ago, a goal which came at the right time for his team.
At this moment of the match, Cazorla was enjoying a good spell on the pitch, orchestrating his team from the first until the last minute of the match. Same goes to Podolski who had a fantastic match, both in attack and in defence, he made 4 tackles in total during the match.
The home-side, enjoying possession, took the lead in the 42nd minute through Podolski’s first ever goal at the North London derby. Another new signing also continued his good form as he poached in a Cazorla’s low cross just before the break, taking his tally to 5 goals in as many matches.
At the beginning of the second half, André Villas-Boas had to take a gamble to get back into the game. He took off both full-backs Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker, replacing them with Clint Dempsey and fans-favourite Michael Dawson. Tottenham were playing with 3 centre-backs in the second half. Arsenal capitalised again when Podolski burst on the left-hand side and sent a low cross which Cazorla finished it in fine fashion to make the match out of reach for Tottenham.
Gareth Bale gave the visitors a consolation goal before Theo Walcott put the game into bed with a goal in stoppage-time. The match finished with the same scoreline as last season’s fixture. Arsenal were easily dominating possession after the sending-off with Arteta controlling the game from the middle of the park where Tottenham left so much space after Adebayor got sent-off. Jack Wilshere also deserved the spotlight in this match what turned out to be his best game so far in this season, but I feel he’s still got room for improvement tho, he has to be more precise with his long-passing.
Lessons to be learned : Find that belief, be confident ! At 3-1 up at the second-half Arsenal were trying too hard to protect the lead which give our rivals a space to attack. Our game is based on attack so we should not be defending that deep especially against a ten-man team.
Man of the match : It’s between Cazorla and Podolski. Podolski was clinical and effective yet again and he also made a lot of defensive contributions notably that tackle on Gareth Bale. Keep in mind that Bacary Sagna played another solid match.
The talking point : ” Arsenal will always score but they will always concede goals too ! ”
What to expect : Confidence is high, I can smell a win against Montpellier is around the corner. But be aware we still have players like Diaby, Gibbs, and Rosicky out injured who could still play a part this season.