Sunday, October 02, 2011

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1

Going into this game Spurs were looking for their fourth successive Premier League win while Arsenal were hoping to end an away sequence of seven games without a win in the league, dating back to last April.  Adebayor was due to face his former club for the first time in a Tottenham shirt and Spurs were favourites to win a North London derby for the first time in Premier League history.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1

Scorers: Van der Vaart, Walker         Ramsey

Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Van der Vaart (Sandro), Parker (Corluka), Modric, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor (Livermore)  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Bassong, Pavlyuchenko, Giovani dos Santos

Kyle Walker Wins North London Derby
Kyle Walker - first goal for Spurs
Kyle Walker made himself an instant Tottenham hero with his first goal for Spurs which won the north London derby against Arsenal at White Hart Lane.  As if that wasn't enough, the very nature of the strike from thirty yards made it even more special especially as it was watched by England manager, Fabio Capello.  Walker has just been given the opportunity by Spurs this season to establish himself in the first team  after being on loan last year with Queen's Park Rangers and Aston Villa.

Harry Redknapp who won the Manager of the Month award for September, restored Jermain Defoe to the starting line-up, with Sandro dropping to the bench.  Ledley King was available to play his fourth successive league game and looking to continue his record of being on the winning side in his last five appearances.

For all their publicised problems, Arsenal started the quicker, determined to put their poor defensive performances away from home behind them.  However, they did create early difficulties for themselves by giving the ball away but Spurs failed to take advantage especially when Scott Parker found himself one on one with the goalkeeper.  He never looked confident and his scuffed shot was blocked by the goalkeeper.  In the early stages Gareth Bale saw little of the ball and Arsenal had a lot of possession without causing Brad Friedel any real problems.  Tottenham were lethargic in their play, failing to achieve the quick tempo game which had Liverpool reeling in the last home game.  Rafael Van der Vaart missed a chance from Jermain Defoe's cross and then Gervinho shot past the post when an opportunity came to him on the edge of the box.

Bale was dangerous on the break  with his pace but Arsenal contained him.  Rafael Van der Vaart was less effective on the right side of midfield as he had defensive duties to perform but when he gave up on those five minutes before the interval he controlled a chipped pass from Adebayor to volley home , his fourth goal for Spurs in three London derbies inside thirteen months.  He also had the distinction of scoring Tottenham's 10,000th competitive goal.  There were claims that he had used his arm to control the ball but the officials saw nothing wrong and television evidence is inconclusive although the ball may have struck his arm after he controlled it on his chest.

Ahead at the interval, Spurs were not playing well and at the start of the second half Arsenal came forward looking to get level.  It took only six minutes as they built up pressure on the Tottenham defence, a clearance from Younes Kaboul was picked up by Song and he raided down the right and his cross was converted by Aaron Ramsey.  Arsenal deserved the goal and went on to control in midfileld, preventing Luka Modric and Parker from having the freedom they have enjoyed in previous weeks.  Eventually, Sandro was introduced in midfield in place of Van der Vaart and he immediately gave Tottenham the hold they needed.  He was much more mobile and involved up and down the pitch putting Arsenal under pressure rather than giving them time to play.

Emmanuel Adebayor, looking to become only the second player to score for both Spurs and Arsenal in a derby match, was the next to miss when through on the goalkeeper but the Szczesny saved.  Then with fifteen minutes remaining, Arsenal were caught unawares at a throw in on the left.  Sandro was given too much time to cross the ball.  It reached Modric whose shot was blocked but this fell to Kyle Walker thirty yards from goal and he hit a thunderous shot which swerved and dipped on its way past Szczesny who got a hand to it but failed to keep it out.

Bale had a shot wide and Defoe saw the goalkeeper make another good save.  Tottenham introduced Jake Livermore and Vedran Corluka to hold on to their lead as five minutes added time was played.
Tottenham will be delighted to take the three points which restores them to sixth in the table and to have recorded their fourth consecutive win in the League.  Four wins in the four games between the two internationals breaks after being pointless and rather despondent going into the first one at the end of August is a remarkable recovery.  They will be less satisfied with the performance against a poor Arsenal side.  Spurs now have three wins and a draw in the last four derbies in the League against their north London rivals.


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