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Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur match report: brilliant comeback


0 - 1 Louis Saha 3'
0 - 2 Emmanuel Adebayor PK 34'
1 - 2 Bacary Sagna 39'
2 - 2 Robin van Persie 43'
3 - 2 Tomas Rosicky 51'
4 - 2 Theo Walcott 65'
5 - 2 Theo Walcott 68'
Scott Parker red card 86'

Both teams started with somewhat unexpected personnel, as Arsenal deployed Yossi Benayoun on the left wing, and Spurs used Nico Kranjcar in midfield. Spurs enjoyed the bulk of the opening pressure, and it wouldn't take long for them to capitalize. Thomas Vermaelen followed Emmanuel Adebayor all the way across the pitch, Kieran Gibbs didn't follow Louis Saha, and the latter was picked out easily. Vermaelen recovered slightly, but Saha's shot deflected up off of Gibbs and over Szczesny into the net.

1-0 to Spurs, 4 minutes in, Arsenal all over the place.

Arsenal tried to get themselves organized, and by 8 minutes in, they were getting pressure on Spurs' goal. They sustained it for a number of minutes, although no shots were forthcoming on target. Spurs had some action when Gareth Bale went down rather easily, and then Nico Kranjcar was fouled, but Arsenal managed to escape eventually before getting their first great chance of the match as Bacary Sagna crossed and Robin van Persie shot wide on the second asking.

Spurs would drift back into the match again as Arsenal managed to keep passing straight to them. Theo Walcott's poor first touch deprived him of an excellent opportunity to put in a cross. van Persie had a shot from 20 that was deflected for a corner on 22 minutes; Tomas Rosicky's header was tipped over the bar brilliantly by ageless wonder Brad Friedel, though, and Spurs escaped.

Adebayor escaped free through the middle and bore down on goal, although Vermaelen was in pursuit and did enough to allow Szczesny to block on 25 minutes. Arsenal won a corner on 28 minutes after Yossi Benayoun's shot was deflected behind, but it came to nothing. Scott Parker took out van Persie 19 yards from goal, and the yellows started coming from Mike Dean, first for Luka Modric, and then for Scott Parker. Mikel Arteta was lucky not to get one as he yelled at Dean.

Arteta stood over the free kick, but the wall was there. Laurent Koscielny took out Kranjcar and earned a yellow.

Then it all came undone again. Gareth Bale was played through as Alex Song completely failed to close down Modric, Gibbs couldn't catch him, and down he went under challenge from both the left back and Szczesny. There was no card forthcoming, but Adebayor stepped up to the plate and hit the penalty well.

2-0 to Spurs. 33 minutes gone.

36 minutes in, Walcott escaped and bore down on goal. Inexplicably, he elected to pass early to van Persie rather than get closer to goal, and as Spurs had three men near RvP, the attack fizzled. Bale raced away to the other end, but Szczesny was on hand to save.

40 minutes in, and Arsenal put pressure on again. Walcott played a delicious (I know) first-touch through ball to van Persie, whose shot hit the outside of the post. The ball squeezed out to Arteta on the left, and his cross was headed home by the improbable Bacary Sagna.

2-1, 40 minutes.

Three minutes later, it would be square. van Persie picked up the ball 20 yards out on his right, spun onto his left, and Spurs gave him enough space. 'Twere a mistake, as the Dutchman did his thang, curling a rocket around Parker and Friedel into the back of the net.

2-2. 43 minutes. Welcome to the Derby, y'all. Tactics really weren't on the table anymore; both teams were defending anarchically. Halftime arrived, all square, but all hilarious. Arsenal's defending was all over the place positionally, and Alex Song had done very little to affect Spurs' attacks, but Spurs were equally standoffish when Arsenal were bearing down, and both teams had chances.

Spurs would make two changes to start the second half; Rafael van der Vaart and Sandro came on for Saha and Nico Kranjcar.

Arsenal would come out positively, Arteta finding Benayoun free right away, the Israeli's shot turned around the far post by Friedel. It would pay off, as they countered at pace 50 minutes on, the move capped by Sagna's low cross being turned home by...

...Tomas Rosicky. His first goal in 50 Premier League matches made it 3-2, and suddenly Arsenal were on top in the street fight.

Tomas Rosicky!

Arsenal continued to play with fire, their high line nearly caught out by van der Vaart, who was about two feet offside.

58 minutes in, Walcott latched onto Rosicky's through ball and missed the far post by about one millimeter. Closer, Arsenal still on the up. 61 minutes in, Sandro was booked for a challenge on van Persie, but it was probably more for his role bugging Arteta a minute before. Two free kicks later, Arsenal had a corner, but it came to nought.

The counter 65 minutes didn't, though. Rosicky released van Persie after Bale was crowded out at the byline, and van Persie did brilliantly to hold the ball up as he slowly advanced waiting for Walcott, who came speeding up on the right, took the pass, and flicked it over Friedel. 4-2.

It wouldn't be long for five, Song playing a long ball past Younes Kaboul for Walcott, who finished at the far post 68 minutes in no problem.

5-2, Arsenal on the rampage.

75 minutes in, Carl Jenkinson came on for Kieran Gibbs, who probably didn't have the steam to go all 90 in a derby yet. Jenkinson to left back, Sagna stayed on the right. Rosicky narrowly missed at the far post. 81 minutes in, Arsenal had started to drop off, but the score remained 5-2. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Theo Walcott, who's second half was quite simply great. Michael Dawson came on for Ledley King for Spurs.

88 minutes, Scott Parker stepped on Vermaelen, and was sent off. He will miss Spurs' match against Manchester United next week. The two shook hands as Benayoun came off for Gervinho.

It really had been a brilliant second half performance from Arsenal, whose pressing, workrate, and willingness to close down were all vastly better in this match than they had been possibly since the 5-3 win against Chelsea. The final whistle arrived, Arsenal rampant, and back in fourth place above Chelsea.

What a day.