Arsenal 2 Spurs 3
One of the biggest matches this season, Arsenal vs Spurs, the North London Derby, whatever you want to call it- arrived. Arsenal had previously beaten Spurs in the Carling Cup earlier this season but this would be the first time full strength sides would be appearing in the Derby this season. A win today would put Arsenal top of the league, and they would stay there provided Chelsea lost to Birmingham later today. Arsenal lined up with Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squilacci and Clichy in defense, Song, Denilson, Fabregas, Nasri and Arshavin in midfield and Chamakh up front. Meanwhile for Spurs Bale was in red-hot form and Gallas was appearing as Spurs captain.
From the first blast of the referee’s whistle Arsenal looked to get a result, Nasri weaved his way towards goal in the first minute and Bale backheeled towards goal in the third, as both teams looked eager to test out each other’s capabilities. However Arsenal looked more confident on the ball and on the 9th minute Fabregas picked out Nasri with a fantastic lob pass, Nasri’s first touch guided the ball through Gomes’ grasp and with a clever chop with his weaker foot on a very acute angle the ball drifted past the goal line into the back of the net.
Arsenal 1 Spurs 0 and the visitors hadn’t even had time to settle in before sloppy defending shoved their faces into the mud. The Gunners keep possession with good passing play that released Fabregas into the box past the 20th minute but he dragged his shot wide. The same good Arsenal passing sets up Chamakh who blasts into the net from close range on the 27th minute, shocking Spurs again reminding them they have a long way to go as defence is concerned.
Spurs are now looking desperate and their types of passing show this, missing the intended player and Van Der Vaart gets his final warning for persistent fouling. Arsenal settle into their game and still look the dominant side as Spurs begin to get back into the game. Chamakh gets a chance late in the half but a bad touch gives it away, and a good counter finds Sagna who slides it to Nasri, who doesn’t seem to be expecting the pass and his first touch makes the ball drift out of play.
Half time and Arsenal were up by 2 goals, the exact same scenario in the same match last season where Van Persie and Fabregas’ wonder goal also put the Gunners up 2-0 at half time.
However, the 45th minute was the last moment of Arsenal respite in this game.
Whatever Harry Redknapp said, did in the dressing room at half time, worked, and worked wonderfully well.
Arsenal looked complacent and it didn’t take 5 minutes for Spurs to capitalise with a breakaway goal that Arsenal should have defended much better on giving Bale another goal to his collection this season. No one was marking Bale and that goal way opened the floodgates for Spurs to completely dominate the second half.
Arsenal looked rattled after conceding that goal but weren’t giving up with a few good chances. However Tottenham’s defence held up well and suddenly the ball was down the other end with a controversial free kick, taken by Van Der Vaart. It turned even more controversial when a penalty was awarded as Fabregas handballed in the box. And then we found out Fabregas’ arm was about 20 inches higher where it should have been but by then Van Der Vaart completed their comeback by coolly slotting home the penalty. 2-2. In the North London Derby.
Van Persie comes on for Chamakh but doesn’t give much more than Chamakh did in the game anyway, and Arsenal look more frantic than ever. On the 70th minute Arsenal finishes off a free kick and score! But it doesn’t count as Fabregas and Squilacci are both offside. Minutes later Rosicky and Walcott come on, but again to no effect at Spurs defend attack after attack. Fabregas attempts a shot at goal but it is well saved by Gomes, pushing it around for a corner. Then Koscielny heads it over the bar when it should have gone in, Arsenal rueing two lost chances and hoping that things wouldn’t get a whole lot worse in the final ten minutes.
But as always, it did. Koscielny trips Bale up on the left and Spurs are given the free kick. The kick is taken, and Kaboul nods home to give Spurs the goal, the comeback and the bragging rights in North London. Arsenal have no reply as Theo smashes one over the bar and Fabregas drags back only for Gomes to pounce, completely stunned, silenced, whipped by the previous 45 minutes that dragged on for eternity.
An almost certain 3rd place for Arsenal and likely 5 points behind Chelsea, Arsenal with a pathetic second half, pathetic defending that gives Spurs an unprecedented 2 straight Derby wins. Everyone to blame today as Arsenal slide to the knowledge that they gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to who? Tottenham Hotspur.