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Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2

At times it`s been a trying season for an Arsenal fan. In fact, it`s been a trying twelve months. It had certainly been a forgettable week, with the capitulation in Milan followed by a meek exit from the F.A. Cup at Sunderland. With the relationship between supporters and players teetering on the brink of mutiny and with Tottenham in the unusual position of thinking up names for their own version of St. Totteringham`s Day, nothing less than a win would have sufficed for the red half of North London. Pride and points very much top of the agenda.

Both sides sprung something of a surprise in their selections- to me at least. Yossi Benayoun started on the left for Arsenal, leaving both Chamberlain and Gervinho kicking their heels on the bench. The manager opting for pretty much the most experienced team he could put out, with Benayoun, Arteta and Rosicky all lining up. Spurs went with a 4-4-2, which I hadn`t expected given that a draw would have sufficed for them. Kranjcar got the nod ahead of fitness doubts Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon. The home side began incredibly nervously and left huge green spaces in their own half. Inside four minutes, Adebayor pulled out to the left; Koscielny and Vermaelen allowed themselves to get sucked in. Saha ploughed into the space and accepted Adebayor`s pass.

In his desperation to get the ball onto his favoured left foot; it looked as though Saha had given Vermaelen time to snuff him out. But Saha`s effort took a cruel deflection off of the Belgian`s knee and looped awkwardly over the wrong footed Szczesny. An inauspicious start. The Arsenal full backs were over committing and the midfield was offering a lack of cover. Frankly, the middle of Arsenal`s defensive third was like a bus lane in the first twenty minutes. Spurs were outnumbering Arsenal in both halves of the pitch. However, the Gunners began to work their way into their stride. Arteta gradually got a hold of the midfield and Arsenal begun to create chances. None so point-blank as when Sagna`s cross fell to van Persie, his first shot was blocked by King. The rebound fell to his right foot, but van Persie screwed inches wide.

Sagna again was alive to a situation, taking a quick throw in to van Persie. The Dutchman allowed the ball to roll across his body, before his strike was deflected inches wide by the leg of Kaboul. From the subsequent corner, Rosicky glanced a cute header goalwards which Friedel showed impressive reflexes to bat away. However, Tottenham were still offering plenty of threat on the counter. Adebayor chased down the rusty Kieran Gibbs from Modric`s pass. Gibbs tried to shepherd back to Szczesny, but Adebayor stuck out a toe. Szczesny smothered, the rebound fell to Kyle Walker, who smashed his shit into the side netting. As with just about every North London derby nowadays, this was a breathless affair.

Spurs once again found far too much space in Arsenal`s defensive third. Modric played a clever pass to Bale who roared into the Arsenal area; took he ball away from Gibbs and Szczesny and collapsed under no contact. Mike Dean acquiesced to the histrionics that are becoming typical of Bale and gave the penalty. It was a decision he did not seem convinced of. His failure to even book Szczesny or Gibbs or whoever was deemed to have made the 'contact` attests as much. His linesman, in a much better position, did not flag for a foul but, when Dean sought his advice, did not challenge the decision. Szczesny amusingly sledged Adebayor as he spotted the ball up- possibly risking a booking for ungentlemanly conduct in the process so rumbustuous were his cries. But Adebayor remained unfazed and despatched the penalty.

His celebration on this occasion was restrained. A birthday goal in front of his most acidic detractors satisfying him enough. However, what was clear from his silly little dance was that he, and in effect Spurs, thought they had the game won. "Your season`s over" was the unrestrained cry of delight from the away enclosure. Arsenal had started slowly but did not deserve to be 2-0 down. But bookings for Luka Modric and Scott Parker proved key; it meant they could not harry and close down with the same ferocity. Arsenal clenched their teeth and their fists. But it just looked like it was not to be our day. Walcott- who I must confess I really wanted to be subbed off at this stage- played a deft touch to van Persie in the area and his low cross shot smacked the post.

As the skipper lay prone in disbelief, Gibbs was swift to pick up the loose ball and feed Arteta on the edge of the area. These are the times when your big players stand up and make their presence felt. As Arteta`s left footed cross spun into the box, one of Arsenal`s biggest had had enough. Bacary Sagna powered onto the flight of the ball and sent a thumping header past Friedel. A big contribution from one of our biggest players. No nonsense, pure desire. Exactly what was required. Sagna made his way to the net, fished the ball out and pounded it back onto the centre spot. Game on. It was an interception that inspired players and supporters as one.

Then came an intervention from our biggest player. Assou Ekotto`s woeful clearance only reached Rosicky. The Czech fed van Persie on the edge of the area, he turned Kaboul with a delightful pirouette, then as Parker closed down sent a beautiful guiding shot which snugly kissed the corner of Friedel`s net. From the position that van Persie receives the pass, I defy you to name me a player in the league that would have scored in that circumstance. A goal of such class you can only afford it the highest praise possible. It was like watching Dennis Bergkamp in his prime. That`s how good it was. All of a sudden, half time felt too soon. As Adebayor girlishly jigged in celebration at 2-0, my overriding ambition had been not to get humiliated. Eight minutes later, I knew we were going to win.

Redknapp looked to thicken up his midfield by replacing the ineffectual Kranjcar with Sandro and van der Vaart came on for Saha. It suggested Redknapp was more worried about the game than Wenger. Within a minute of the half beginning, that fear was justified. Arteta found Benayoun inside the area; his low guided shot just lacked power to beat Friedel. But on 51 minutes, Arsenal continued a recent North London derby tradition. They completed the turnaround. Rosicky spread the ball wide to Sagna then motored into the box. Sagna sent in a low cross which snuck between King and Friedel. Both hesitated, Rosicky didn`t and deftly flicked the ball into the net. His first league goal for 26 months and the culmination of a few months brilliant work. Little Mozart is conducting again.

Rosicky was at the hub of Arsenal`s attack again when he found Walcott on the right. Theo steadied himself and blasted just beyond the far post. It was a portent warning of what was to come. Spurs pressed for an equaliser and left Arsenal size gaps in their defence. Van Persie mimicked Adebayor`s early mischief, which had by now evaporated into self congratulation from the Togolese. The Dutchman pulled to the left, sucking Kaboul and King in. Walcott saw the space and steamrolled into it, Kaboul frantically waving his charges back to cover. Van Persie fed Theo; whose first touch was typically awful. His dinked finish was typically adept. The mystery of Theo Walcott laid bare. The man who, at Stamford Bridge, tripped over the ball before picking himself up to score. His touch was awkward, the ball bouncing off his right leg onto his left, pushing him wide of Friedel`s goal. But as Parker and Friedel bore down on him, he calmly clipped the ball over them. Has there ever been a more confusing player?

He was at it again minutes later. Song showed excellent feet to dribble round Modric before lofting a ball over the top of the lead footed Ledley King. Walcott was onside. Once again, his steadying touch was terrible. Once again, his second emphatic, drilling the ball into the bottom corner. A two goal lead has been surrendered in four of the last seven North London derbies. Five in the last twelve. Three of those by Arsenal. It added an extra air of satisfaction to the cries of "2-0 and you f****d it up!" Tottenham briefly threatened a response, Bale firing narrowly over from twenty five yards. But the game was up. "Adebayor, what`s the score?" rang around the stadium. The away contingent had long since shrunk into a band of unoccupied red seats.

Arsenal are a bewildering team. Capable of pathetic capitulations as evidenced in Northern Italy. But equally capable of unquenchable mental strength, to use one of the manager`s watch words. Four weeks after Arsenal had overturned a two goal deficit at home to Aston Villa, they bested much better opponents in an even more emphatic manner yesterday. The fact that those opponents happened to be our nearest and dearest made it that much sweeter and gave yours truly the only excuse he needed to spend a long afternoon in the pub toasting the victory. All of a sudden, Spurs are looking over their shoulders again, the pangs of bowel clenching doubt in their stomachs. Arsenal must use the performance and the result as the blueprint for a sprint finish.

Aside from a very questionable opening fifteen minutes or so; Arsenal were on top throughout. The collective maturity of the likes of Benayoun, Arteta and Rosicky assured we didn`t panic. The defiance and attitude of the likes of Bacary Sagna steeled us up for a comeback. The quality of van Persie and the finishing of Walcott sealed it. Koscielny and Vermaelen ensured the back door stayed firmly shut. Collective commendation is the order of the day. It needs to be the same at Anfield in five days time. But the worry about that fixture can start tomorrow. This is a morning in which we swagger into work, the weary and slightly hungover smiles telling the story of the game. LD.

13.SZCZESNY, 3.SAGNA, 6.KOSCIELNY, 5.VERMAELEN, 28.GIBBS (25.Jenkinson `75), 17.SONG, 8.ARTETA, 7.ROSICKY, 14.WALCOTT (27.Gervinho `88), 30.BENAYOUN (15.Chamberlain `81), 10.v.PERSIE©. Unused: 9.J-Y.Park, 21.Fabianski, 29.Chamakh, 49.Miquel.





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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday February 27 2012

Time: 9:56AM

Your Comments

I'm so glad you got this up early. I've been sat waiting patiently to read this, the most satisfying of match reports in years. It's a thing of beauty Mr Stillman, much like our performance yesterday!
Rocky7
Well written LD. Twas a joy to watch and a memory to hold on to forever. The funny thing was that at the start of the match they were content with sitting and looking for counters while we had possession. At the start of the second half, it appeared we were sitting and looking for counters, albeit owning most of the possession. Credit to Walcott for the runs and the goals. One positive thing is that the skipper believes so much in his ability. So even if he's having a bad day, there's someone on the pitch to urge him on amidst the criticism from the fans. Well done, RvP. I love u so.
Guyfox
I've been setting all over the interwebz Arsenal fans claiming that yesterday was their favorite match at Ashburton Grove to date ... I'm finding it quite hard to disagree. The Barcelona win is right up there, but this one was so much fun!
Rocky7
**I've been seeing
Rocky7
Another thing of note is that sandwiched between our awful cup matches have been a nice little run of 3 consecutive wins, scoring 14 goals in the process. The nice thing is 8 different players have shared those goals. We're getting there.
Rocky7
2-0 & we fecked it up! Until we get a grip in our matches against the established top sides, we'll never be taken seriously. 1 away point at the bindippers is pathetic & a total of 8 points from a possible 24 is simply not good enough.

Enjoy your p1$$ taking, you've earned it. Good gee up for you for the Milan game & it wouldn't surprise me if you do it.

Spuds-U-Like
Forgot to mention thet Spurs fans chanting "Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay." Plenty of chutzpah there considering they've never managed to finish above him.
Little Dutch
LD - Have you any idea what happened when 'Arry was having a whinge at the Gooners sat just behind him?
Rocky7
Nope, none at all. Like Arsene, I didn't see it :)
Little Dutch
LD well written Tim, top top write up. Just to think someone once said I will bare all that Tommy will never play for us again. And when he did the same person said he would never be the same. Only joking for us simple folks who live for dreams and believe have faith it was the fairy tale we wanted. They played the Arsenal way the only way. How sweet the taste of victory. Go you Gunners.
alwaysgunner
No need to go on the scum site they are busy hanging themselves along with Arry Bale etc. Wait till the next season when they lose their stars(only one Arsenal player could ever make their team, silly Muppet scum) it will be all down hill.
alwaysgunner
LD, reading your match reports after the game is at once a ritual as well as a great pleasure. This Arsenal season has been the most topsy turvy one I can remember, what painful lows, what dizzying highs. Consistency as ever is the holy grail and one one prays we find soon enough.
Deltaforce
Isn't is funny to think Wenger is well in the running for February Manager of the Month, with victories against Blackburn, Sunderland and Spurs in the league.
Little Dutch
Never seen so much comments on a match, 663, last i counted. On the scum site, they are really hanging themselves. Since when did losing to Arsenal become unacceptable? Harry is incompetent, Bale thinks he's Ronaldo n Messi combined, Lennon didn't play, the backline is crappy... Really hilarious. I'm waiting to hear it was a bad pitch. They looked so good on paper, they forgot football is actually played on a pitch. So glad for Rosicky, I must confess I had written him off to be sold at the summer. But he brings something different to the midfield. Direct play and good passes, always forward looking. With Walcott in the side, we need someone who will always search for his runs and pick em. For now, let's face it, Theo's strength is his pace so let's exploit it and not overly dwell on his weaknesses. Cos when he's on goal, he's got a 70% probability of scoring IMO.
Guyfox
That would be a weird one LD. Football is clearly mental.
Rocky7
Touché, LD! Never has a Monday morning looked so beautiful in this Gooner's eyes. What a fantastic game- what a result. Tiny Totts well and truly put back in their place, where they belong. Them and their cocky cockerel were blown to kingdom come, by our mighty cannon and it was an absolute pleasure to watch.
julieloveshenry4ever
Yep. A scrawny bird well and truly stuffed, and epitomised by Sagna's bullet header and RVP's sublime bender. Hope we can carry the same application into the Liverpool game next week.
Wyn Mills
It was truly a thing of beauty, we had to go 2-0 down to truly appreciate just what was coming next. Never has battered chicken tasted soooo sweet. I can still hear the far off painful squawk as the feathers on this mangy poultry are so ruffled from the almighty kicking it received yesterday, licking it's wounds after it settles back down to sleep realising it's all just been another false dawn.
nikolaijns
If they throw this one away, they may as well go home and never come out again, we'd literally need new neighbours.
shewore
What is it 36 points to play for? You see 7 pts differences close all the time. Doable no doubt. Although when you have already lived through a time when you have overhauled them on the last day of the season and had them literally physically blow brown water out of their collective blowpipe it will take something very special indeed to top that. What do you say Goonerchef? What are your banqueting arrangements looking like this year? :)
nikolaijns
There are no adequate words I can think of to describe how shocked, amazed, delighted and just FKG HAPPY to be proven utterly, utterly, STUPIDLY WRONG about yesterday's NLD! Thank you Arsene, thank you boys-I don't think I've screamed louder than that in a football match since Brazil won the 2002 world cup. Not even the win against Barca last year--and boy did I scream at that game!
jaelle
LD, what did u say about Kaboul? His sh it ??
e dubbz
actually Kyle walker
e dubbz
We actually won a game--and a BIG game!--with Mike Dean & Phil Dowd officiating!!
jaelle
spuds-u-like . the first spurs fan I have met who's graceful in defeat. Commendable stuff
e dubbz
Just wanted to point out that before Bale's dive to me it looked like spurs had been sent on a deliberate campaign of rotational diving-they were constantly going to ground at the merest touch, complaining to the ref & trying to get our players booked. Mind you, two of our players dived/exaggerated too: Gibbe & Arteta. But with spurs it looked orchestrated & rotational.
jaelle
great write up ld. hilarious but succinct description of walcott, and it could well be used to describe our team for this season too. just when you felt so hopeless & frustrated, they gave you some unexpected euphoria. also would like to thank some gracious spurs fans here for congratulating us
Joe_@**
Spuds is one of the reasonable ones. Credit to him for coming on here and holding up his hands, unlike some of his crowing associates.
wyn mills
Guyfox, the Spuds site has some very hilarious stuff, to be honest. Those fellas sure know how to tear themselves down. Now, I know what to do and where to go when I need a laugh.
Naijagunner
Wyn, there are a few more like spuds-u-like, to be fair, who have put up their hands in defeat and castigated Bale. Hats off to Sagna as he kept to his promise to keep an eye on Bale and boy, did he keep him quiet. I have never seen Bale so owned by a full back. Modric was another who went missing thanks to Arteta and Song's close attention.
Naijagunner
Now I know, Naijagunner, now I know too. lmao.
Guyfox
Thanks there, wyn & naija. Boys, I can honestly see no point or reason to deny the bleedin' obvious. I think that result has shoved it up a lot of so called experts taking money for old rope with punditry. I for one never lost sight that this was the NLD, form goes out the window & anything can happen & usually does! Thats why we all look forward to this fixture, never mind the Manc/bindipper derby, there's ONLY ONE derby - the NLD.

Spuds-U-Like
Oh, & another thing. After what I put up on here after the Milan game, I can hardly complain about getting it back with interest & belated thanks to Rocky7 for leaving my wriggly bottom up there! ;-)

. If you can't take it, don't post it.

Spuds-U-Like
Everyones a sucker for an animated cartoon rump spuds
nikolaijns
Niko your bait to coopsieyid on VS was one of the funniest posts i'ver ever read. A laugh riot.
Deltaforce
Spuds, I couldn't help but smile whenever I took a look at that wiggly bum cartoon of yours. Fair game, I'd agree.
Naijagunner
Coopsieyid? Has he been found yet? Last I knew, he went missing, even on the VS site, with his fellow Spuds practically putting out an APB for him. He ate a good dose of humble pie is my guess.
Naijagunner
Sorry Naija, Coopsieyid's not missing, he's had enough of the personal insults & he's quit.

Spuds-U-Like
I should add that its the insults from our own fans thats done for him.

Spuds-U-Like
Having read poopsies contributions to rockys' cosy chat thread you have to say yay! the networks' lost a moron! 'appy days.
nikolaijns
cheers Delta, for those that neither know (nor care probably lol) poopsie had promised the entire network he'd never ever post again on the network if that 'human waste' walcott scored against them! My post said that only a man that could never be trusted in any way would break a promise like that and post on VS again then proceeded to insult him over and over with a few choice morsels knowing full well he has to sit there and read it getting more and more wound up yet unable to reply It's kind of like waterboarding minus the water :)
nikolaijns
In hindsight it was a rash and stupid pledge, but one that's providing a truly hilarious postscript.
wyn mills
Wow, Spurs fans are fickle. I had a funny time reading through their post. They are up in 3rd spot all because of Harry, an yet, just 1 loss to us, and they are calling for his head. How unfgratefull idiots, and they are calling us filth? LOL!!.. what can be more filthier than that? Suddenly form does not matter in a Derby? You guys never really mattered!.. Derby or NOT!.. You are just not as good as Arsenal period!, Whatever happened to us, is all due to multple reasons, PLayers leaving, injuries, etc, and having many young players, but the fact that matters is that the players we have are quality, and the way we play is second to none in the league, and Wenger's way par excelence! There's no way in Hell are they guys gonna match that, and we just saw that yesterday, how good thier so called beautiful football is, it was horrific par excelence.. LOL!
nevidimka
niko, there are still a lot of morons posting on Vital forums, the loss of 1 (in your opinion) won't make any difference.

Spuds-U-Like
To be honest I'm bored of talking about some hormonal drama queen that flounced off to stroke his own pitiful ego and couldn't give two solid stools mate, next!
nikolaijns
For someone supposedly bored by it, you certainly did a lot of talking buddy! :-)

Spuds-U-Like
yesterday i talked, today you still are.
nikolaijns
Only after you did niko mate.

Spuds-U-Like
ok let's draw a veil on it and let's get back to talking about the game ;) I preferred the last 51 minutes of it, yourself?
nikolaijns
oh yes. that roasted chicken was pretty damn good. Thats a fact.
Wyn Mills
The first 39! LOL

Spuds-U-Like
Funny, I liked the first 39 too; only because it made the last 51 all the more enjoyable. ;-)
Naijagunner
Well, it would Naija, we're soooo generous like that. ;-)
Spuds-U-Like
After 2-0, I thought it was gonna be one of those days. But how wrong could I be? Walcott's goals were a joy especially the first where he lobbed it.
Gunnerfan1987
 

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