Tottenham team: Lloris, Naughton, Rose, Sandro (68), Kaboul, Vertonghen, Townend, Bentaleb, Adebayor, Chadli (69), Eriksen (82) (subs: Walker, Lennon, Paulinho (68), Soldado (82), Sigurdsson (68), Friedel, Kane)
Arsenal team: Szczency, Sagna, Gibbs, Arteta, Mertersacker, Koscielny, Rosicky (69), Oxlade-Chamberlain (85), Giroud, Cazorla, Podolski (77) (subs: Vermaelen (85), Monreal (77), Flamini (69), Fabianski, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Gnabry)
Tomas Rosicky scored a stunning goal after 72 seconds to give Arsenal their first win at White Hart Lane since 2007, keeping the Gunners in contention for the title. A game, largely dominated by Spurs, went Arsenal’s way as they defended tremendously to keep former hero Adebayor and his team mates at bay.
Heading into the game there were doubts surrounding both teams. Arsenal’s injury list seems to be growing with Mesut Ozil, the latest player to take to the treatment, table pulling his hamstring in the 1-1 draw against Bayern mid week. Spurs, on the other hand, were lacking confidence altogether. They were thrashed by Chelsea last week and were thoroughly outplayed by Benfica in the Europa League.
Spurs started brightly but were undone on the break by Arsenal in as little as 72 seconds. The Gunners broke on the right with Chamberlain and Rosicky, though Chamberlain mis-controlled, he inadvertently teed up Rosicky who lashed a stunning drive high into the Tottenham net. The goal did not seem to shake Tottenham at all, they had more of the ball with Eriksen and Adebayor being a part of everything that was good about Spurs. Tim Sherwood desperately needed a response- and his team were giving one. Adebayor flicked just wide and so did Nacer Chadli. For all their possession, they failed to register a shot on target in the first half. Arsenal always looked dangerous on the counter. The in-form Alex Oxlade Chamberlain received a pass and skipped past Bentaleb and went through on goal. He only had Hugo Lloris to beat but his attempted flick went horribly wrong, not pleasing team mate Podolski, who was available for an easy tap in. Podolski himself also hit the side netting.
Tottenham should have had an equaliser early in the second half. Arsenal ‘keeper Wojiech Szczency had two nervous moments, where he mis-handled the ball, the latter almost proving to be costly as the ball fell to Chadli with the goal at his mercy he took a shot that was blocked by Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal had their moments but did not really threaten the Spurs’ goal. Manager Arsene Wenger chose to see out a 1-0 win by introducing two defenders, Vermaelen and Monreal and midfield combatant Flamini. To be fair to him, most of his attacking options are nursing injuries, so perhaps he had little choice.
Spurs continued to put pressure on Arsenal and brought on Soldado to support Adebayor. The latter had a decent chance from a header that was put wide. Arsenal put in one of their best defensive performances of the season and thwarted everything their neighbours threw at them, high and low, and saw the game out-cue Podolski celebrating in the crowd and Szczency taking a selfie with team mates.
Arsenal continue to surprise everyone. Many expected them to crumble come March, even more so after sustaining a series of injuries to key players, however they keep on fighting. Four points of leaders Chelsea, who they play next, with a game in hand.
Tottenham spent £100m in the summer with the majority convinced this would be the season they finally finish above Arsenal. It seems unlikely to happen and its back to the drawing board for Sherwood.