Premier League, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 5 (Mertesacker 24, Podolski 42, Giroud 45+1, Cazorla 60, Walcott 90+1) Tottenham Hotspur 2 (Adebayor 10, Bale 71)
Emmanuel Adebayor scored and was sent off before the roof caved in on 10-man Tottenham in a frantic 5-2 defeat to north London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Andre Villas-Boas’ visiting side made a bright start to the day when the former Arsenal forward Adebayor tapped the ball into the net on 10 minutes for his tenth goal in these matches after Jermain Defoe had given Per Mertesacker the slip to slam a shot at goal that Arsenal’s returning Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny could not hold.
Aaron Lennon almost added a second goal when he accepted a pass from Gareth Bale to whack a shot narrowly wide, but the mood of the afternoon changed dramatically when Adebayor was rightly sent off on 17 minutes for a crude and rash challenge on Santi Cazorla that left referee Howard Webb with little option but to produce the red card.
The home side needed little invitation to bombard the visiting area with crosses and were rewarded three times before half-time as Mertesacker (24), Lukas Podolski (42) and Olivier Giroud (45+1) all found the net to leave Tottenham sporting a hangdog look heading up the tunnel.
Mertesacker made amends for his earlier sloppiness in defence as he rose to power home his first goal for Arsenal in 32 games from Theo Walcott’s expert cross.
Podolski was fortunate to see the ball deflect off William Gallas and leave France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris – who had replaced Brad Friedel to make his first start in the Premier League – with no chance as it nestled in the corner of the net to hand Arsenal a 2-1 lead. It may not sound believable, but Lloris enjoyed a solid enough day in goal.
Cazorla had the final say of the half as Webb played advantage to enable the former Malaga winger to stay on his feet. He picked out Giroud who swept the ball into the net from eight yards out. It was suddenly party time among the home fans at the Emirates.
Tottenham coach Andre Villas Boas continued to be positive in the face of such obvious discomfort by pairing Clint Dempsey with Defoe up front in the second period and opting for three at the back as Michael Dawson was also introduced with Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker sacrificed.
But Arsenal’s work for the day was more or less completed when Cazorla added the fourth goal on 60 minutes as he finished Podolski’s delightful ball across goal. Gareth Bale scored for the 10 men with his right foot on 71 minutes to give Spurs brief hope.
It might have become more interesting if Bale had opted to play provider for Defoe on 73 minutes when he drove the ball across the face of goal rather than look to play in the England forward, who made his unhappiness known seconds later.
Walcott ensured a repeat of his side’s 5-2 win over Spurs in February when he tucked the ball home from substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross in stoppage time with Spurs again a mess at the back.
Tottenham have now conceded at least four goals in three of their last five Premier League visits to the Emirates, including nine goals in their last two.
Yet it was difficult not to feel some sympathy at full-time for Tottenham coach AVB, whose side’s hopes of collecting three points from the day disappeared up the tunnel with Adebayor’s ill-advised conduct.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal): Taken out by Adebayor for the challenge that prompted the red card, but returned to haunt Spurs as his considerable class was allowed room to flourish against the 10 men. Scored a fine goal and played provider for Giroud to add the third.
Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Sagna 6, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 7, Vermaelen 7, Arteta 7, Wilshere 6, Cazorla 8, Walcott 7, Podolski 7, Giroud 7. Subs: Santos 6, Ramsey 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7
Tottenham: Lloris 7, Walker 5, Gallas 6, Vertonghen 6, Naughton 4, Lennon 7, Huddlestone 5, Sandro 5, Bale 7, Adebayor 4, Defoe 5. Subs: Dawson 6, Carroll 6, Dempsey 5