In one of the most thrilling games of their season, a troubled and often criticised Arsenal side absolutely trounced local rivals Tottenham, by a whopping 5-2 margin! The match brought back (for Arsenal fans certainly) triumphant memories of a victory by similar margins against Chelsea, on Oct. 29; on that occasion the Gunners twice battled back from a goal down to win an enthralling contest 5-3.
On this occasion, curiously, the same men responsible for that stirring turnaround - Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott - were at it again.
Arsene Wenger has been under so much criticism and fire of late that there really is no point in even discussing it or bringing it up anymore. The Gunners' manager could well have been put under even more pressure had his selection policy for this match backfired. Wenger chose to leave the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and energetic Gervinho on the bench, while playing Yossi Benayoun and Tomas Rosicky... both of whom have been bit-part players, at best, this season. Aside from that there were no real surprises, with Vermaelen and Koscielny forming the central defensive partnership and Robin van Persie set to provide the scoring outlet.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp had been rather boisterous in the build-up to the game, claiming Arsenal would be "taught a lesson". To that end, the fact that he chose to leave one of his more creative players - Rafael Van der Vaart on the bench was a surprise. Niko Kranjcar started in his place, with Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Scott Parker providing the midfield support for Louis Saha and the prodigal son, Emmanuel Adebayor.
Tottenham were quickest off the mark, testing the Gunners' centre backs' aerial abilities. Krancjar, in particular, looked threatening and Vermaelen had to be smart to deny the Croatian. There was little surprise then that the opening goal came from the men in white. Louis Saha, who seems to have re-discovered his scoring touch, put Spurs in the lead, following a quick break from his strike partner, Adebayor. At that point it looked like Arsenal, as they have so often all season, had very little in the way of a concrete reply.
However, the hosts worked themselves back into the match in a few minutes, with two claims for an Arsenal penalty turned down. They grew in confidence as the first half wore on, despite the fact that they looked vulnerable to counterattacks; Walcott and van Persie, in particular, looked good.
The penalty was finally awarded... but not for Arsenal. Following a scrappy couple of minutes, which saw yellow cards to Parker, Modric and Koscielny, Szczesny took Bale down in the box to concede a spot kick. Adebayor put the ball in the back of the net, much to his delight, and Spurs were 2-0 up. The game, it seemed, was over.
Then, in the 40th minute, Arsenal managed to pull one back, courtesy Bacary Sagna. Suddenly Arsenal were buzzing again... and in what will probably go down as one of the most dramatic 3 minutes in the club's history, the Gunners were level!
It was that man again... Robin van Persie! The Dutchman hit the post just minutes before Sagna's first goal. This time he made no mistake. Assou-Ekotto failed to clear the ball and van Persie curled it home from the corner of the penalty box.
The two sides went into half time level at 2-2. Redknapp responded to Arsenal's first half blitz by bringing Sandro and Van der Vaart on for Saha and Krancjar.
It didn't stay level for long. Rosicky scored the crucial third goal in the 51st minute and Arsenal then killed the game with yet another 2-goals-in-three-minute blitz. Theo Walcott scored in the 65th and 68th minute, courtesy brilliant through balls from van Persie and Alex Song.
In between Rosicky's goal and Walcott's double though, Spurs did attack... Sandro, Modric, Adebayor, Van der Vaart and Bale all tried making inroads into a suddenly remarkably stubborn Arsenal midfield and defense.
The final 20 minutes were something of a nightmare for Tottenham and Redknapp and the score could easily have been far worse for them, with van Persie, Walcott and Rosicky all missing chances.
The final bit of ignominy for Tottenham was the sending off of Scott Parker, in the 87th minute, for his second bookable offence.
Check Out Video Highlights:
Arsenal 5 (Sagna 40', van Persie 43', Rosicky 51', Walcott, 65' and 68') beat Tottenham 2 (Saha 4', Adebayor pen 34')
Arsenal now have 46 points from 26 games and are in 5th position in the Premier League. They are level on points with Chelsea in 4th. They next travel to Liverpool, for a league game, on March 3.
Tottenham remain in third place in the league, with 53 points from 26 games. They will next play Manchester United, at White Hart Lane, on March 4.