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Arsenal 3 - 0 Tottenham

Arsenal   3 - 0   Tottenham

Arsenal emphatically swept aside claims from Tottenham that they were ready to challenge the supremacy of their north London rivals with a convincing victory at the Emirates.

The game turned inside 11 seconds shortly before the interval as the Gunners struck twice to set up a victory that gave manager Arsene Wenger 1000 Premier League points since his arrival at the club in 1996.

It also ended any hopes Spurs may have harboured of ending a winless league sequence against Arsenal that now stretches back 20 games.

Boss Harry Redknapp would have been satisfied with how his side had coped with Arsenal's threat until they imploded spectacularly as half-time approached.

We committed suicide - Redknapp

Robin van Persie reacted quicker than Ledley King to meet Bacary Sagna's cross in the 42nd minute, but Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes should have done much better than fumble the ball over the line.

And worse was to follow for the visitors straight from the kick-off when Wilson Palacios gifted possession to Cesc Fabregas, who ran through the heart of a static defence to beat Gomes.

Any lingering optimism that Redknapp's side could follow in the footsteps of West Ham and claw back a two-goal lead against Arsenal was snuffed out by more crass defending that saw the hosts add another on the hour.

Referee Mark Clattenburg played a clever advantage after Benoit Assou-Ekotto had fouled Eduardo and, while Spurs inexplicably waited for a whistle that was never going to come, Sagna set up Van Persie for his second from eight yards.

Robbie Keane had insisted, perhaps unwisely given the timing, that they now had a squad capable of competing with their neighbours. But it soon became clear that the absence of suspended Jermain Defoe, injured Aaron Lennon and long-term casualty Luka Modric had robbed Tottenham of a crucial cutting edge.

Arsenal had absentees of their own with Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky again sidelined, but they coped with their losses more convincingly than Spurs.

The vast swathe of empty spaces in the visitors' section, well before the final whistle, told the story of another day of derby disappointment for their half of north London.

And, as the Gunners performed their passing party pieces in the closing stages - when Eduardo should have added a fourth - Spurs's misery was complete as defender Sebastien Bassong pulled up with a hamstring injury.

Wenger recalled Manuel Almunia in goal with Lukasz Fabianski sidelined by a thigh injury and Vito Mannone relegated to the bench while Spurs gave starts to Peter Crouch and David Bentley.

The former Arsenal man, so often a marginal figure in his Spurs career, appeared over-eager to prove a point in the early stages and was fortunate to be spared by the leniency of referee Clattenburg.

He escaped a yellow card for deliberately handling a clearance and then received only a lecture when a late lunge left defender Thomas Vermaelen requiring lengthy treatment.

Spurs keeper Gomes has been dogged by inconsistency - as he was to subsequently prove - but he showed his best side when he saved superbly from Fabregas after 20 minutes when Andrey Arshavin's effort deflected invitingly into his path off King.

We should have scored more - Wenger

Arsenal were forced into a change two minutes later when Nicklas Bendtner, who had made a bright start, signalled to the bench that was struggling with an injury and limped off, to be replaced by Eduardo. Wenger later said Bendtner can expect to be out "for a while".

The away side were surviving in relative comfort and even threatened to prosper as the Emirates crowd started to show signs of frustration, but they gifted Arsenal control of what had been a tightly contested game in a minute of madness shortly before the interval.

Slack marking from a throw-in allowed Sagna to cross for Van Persie to beat King and steer in a near-post finish which left question marks over Gomes, who allowed the ball to squirm through his grasp.

As the Emirates basked joyously in the breaking of the deadlock, matters became considerably worse for Spurs as Palacios was robbed straight from the kick-off by Fabregas, who waltzed through unchallenged to fire a composed shot low past the exposed Gomes.

The gap between the goals was timed at 11 seconds - and in that space of time, the destiny of the three points was decided.

Spurs needed to find a way back into a game in which they had self-destructed, and Bentley almost provided hope with a long-range free-kick turned over the top in acrobatic fashion by Almunia.

Then, as if to confirm their defensive incompetence of the first half was by no means an accident, Spurs switched off fatally once more as Arsenal extended their lead with a third goal on the hour.

As the linesman flagged for a foul by Assou-Ekotto on Eduardo, Spurs defenders stood around obligingly as referee Clattenburg played a splendid advantage. Sagna took advantage with a ball into the box that was bundled home by Van Persie.

Keane was hauled off to a reception liberally sprinkled with mockery as Redknapp took the desperate measure of introducing Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Arsenal were revelling in the time and space they were being afforded and Eduardo was guilty of squandering an opportunity to make it four when he shot wide with only Gomes to beat after being released by Fabregas.

Tottenham simply indulged in damage limitation until the final whistle - but many of their aspirations have now been placed in context, after they failed to seriously test an Arsenal team they believe they can beat to a place in the Premier League's top four.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:

"It was the kind of game where both teams lacked fluidity in the first 25 minutes. We took advantage of two opportunities and that changed the game completely - it could have been four or five. We should have scored more.

"The back five did very well, we didn't give any chances away and during a difficult period of the game they kept us in it. But any mistakes and your opponent can take advantage of them, and we did that. It was a shock for them to concede the first goal and we took advantage of the goal.

"Our club deserves a lot of credit - a derby is a very different game no matter how good you are, but it shows we can prepare and turn up for the game every time."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp:

"On 42 minutes I felt the crowd were getting onto them, they weren't creating anything worth talking about, and I felt very comfortable. I'm looking up at the clock with three minutes to half time and thinking we've done our job. I could see us certainly getting a big result. But it all turned upside-down.

"We switched off from a throw-in, then gave them the ball back, we're 2-0 down and the game's over. We committed suicide, really. All three goals were scandalous, there wasn't a good goal amongst them. Giving Fabregas the ball from the kick-off was Sunday morning football.

"We've not hit a blip - we got beaten by Arsenal today but we've got 19 points and we'll still be right up there at the end of the season."

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 31st October 2009

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