An extraordinary game at The Emirates Stadium between North London giants Arsenal and Spurs ended in a dramatic 5-2 home victory that has surely ended Tottenham’s Premiership title challenge.
Spurs went into the game needing to win to keep in touch with the two Manchester clubs and went ahead within four minutes of the kick-off when a shot from Saha was deflected in by Vermaelen. On 34 minutes, former Arsenal man Emmanuel Adebayor slotted home a penalty to resounding boos from the home fans and Harry Redknapp’s side seemed destined to take all three points. Arsenal’s confidence had taken a dent with their 4-0 Champions League thrashing against Inter Milan and a home defeat against their bitter rivals would have been equally disastrous.
However, two goals within 3 minutes brought them back level before half-time. Bacary Sagna pulled one back before Van Persie smashed home the equaliser to swing the game firmly in the Gunners’ direction. Tottenham needed to regroup at half-time but were put straight back under pressure after the restart and Arsenal went ahead for the first time through Tomas Rosicky before two goals from England striker Theo Walcott sealed an astonishing win. Tottenham’s misery was complete when Scott Parker was dismissed for two bookable offences.
The Premier League has continually thrown up surprising results and this game was strangely similar to the collapse that Chelsea suffered against Arsenal when slipping to a 5-3 home defeat. Arsenal have now regained the fourth Champions League spot whilst Tottenham’s pursuit of the title seems doomed to failure. They will need to put this defeat behind them very quickly as their next opponents are Manchester United. Spurs are currently seven points clear of Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League table but, with tricky games coming up in March, they will be looking over their shoulders in the hope of securing third place.
Both Arsenal and Tottenham have been guilty of performances varying from the sublime to the ridiculous in recent weeks. Spurs gave a first class display when hammering high-flying Newcastle 5-0 two weeks’ ago but their complete collapse against Arsenal will have raised serious questions about their pretensions as genuine title contenders. Arsenal supporters, whilst relishing this win over their local rivals, will be wondering what to expect from their side when they travel to Liverpool next weekend. Having been on the end of that mauling in the Champions’ League and already resigned to a seventh consecutive season without a trophy, this result masks deep-rooted problems at the Emirates that will have to be addressed through the summer.