A battling performance went unrewarded in the north London derby at the Lane as a second-minute screamer from Tomas Rosicky was enough to clinch the victory for Arsenal.
The visitors were able to hold on to their lead despite a display of commitment and character, especially in the second half as we completely dominated but just couldn’t apply the finishing touch to a number of good goalscoring opportunities.
Tim Sherwood made four changes from the side which lost to Benfica here in midweek, with Kyle Walker, Paulinho, Aaron Lennon and Harry Kane making way for Danny Rose, Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli and Nabil Bentaleb.
As usual the Lane was rocking on derby day at kick-off but it was the visiting fans who were celebrating most after just two minutes as Arsenal snatched an early lead with the first attack of the game.
Rosicky led the breakaway down the right, played it inside to Alex Oxlade-Chamblerlain who scuffed a pass back to the Czech midfielder. As the ball rolled back towards him he just lashed a fierce right-foot drive from the corner of the area past Hugo Lloris.
We were seeing plenty of the ball but Arsenal were dangerous on the counter. After 15 minutes Oxlade-Chamberlain skipped past Bentaleb inside the centre circle and was through on goal, but with just Lloris to beat he hit his shot well wide. A minute later Olivier Giroud beat the offside trap but Lloris was quick off his line to head away the danger.
Andros Townsend flashed a centre across the face of goal when just a touch would have sent it in, Rose collected the rebound and popped it inside to Eriksen but his shot was blocked by two defenders.
And again as we were enjoying possession, the visitors broke away down the left through Lukas Podolski who cut back to Oxlade-Chamberlain but again his shot was wayward.
As play swung from end to end, a minute later Townsend and Kyle Naughton linked up down the right, the latter whipping in a cross which Adebayor got a touch on but sent the ball just past the far post.
It was fast and frantic of course, with referee Mike Dean handing out bookings to Chadli, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs and when he awarded us a free-kick 25 yards from goal on the half hour mark, there was hope that Christian Eriksen could strike again. This time though, he sent his effort up and over the wall, but also the crossbar.
Podolski lashed a shot into the side-netting at one end, while Chadli dragged his effort well wide at the other after Eriksen led a 41st minute break, but at the interval it was the visitors who held a narrow advantage.
Quite how we didn’t level four minutes into the second half was a mystery. Twice in space of 60 seconds, Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny spilled the ball at the feet of Chadli, Sagna whacking clear the first chance. Chadli looked certain to score with the second as he latched on to the loose ball and cut inside Per Mertesacker, but Laurent Koscielny blocked his shot on the line.
And the Belgian international was there again on 51 minutes, Townsend bursting down the right before sliding the ball across the goal, but it was slightly behind Chadli and he couldn’t flick it past Szczesny.
It was pretty much one-way traffic at this stage, and Adebayor went close again on 65 minutes when Bentaleb delivered an inviting cross into the area, the Togolese striker outjumping Koscielny but sending his header just wide.
Arsenal still carried a threat though and Lloris needed to be at his sharpest to get down quickly to deny Mertesacker’s shot on the turn following Santi Cazorla’s free-kick on 78 minutes.
The visitors brought on defenders Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen as they looked to see out the game as we continued to dominate possession, but the goal just wouldn’t come. Bentaleb hit a 25-yard half volley which was blocked and Adebayor’s 90th minute right-foot curler brought a diving save out of Szczesny. It just wasn’t to be.
Spurs: Lloris, Naughton, Vertonghen, Kaboul, Rose, Sandro (Paulinho 68), Townsend, Bentaleb, Eriksen (Soldado 82), Chadli (Sigurdsson 68), Adebayor. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Walker, Lennon, Kane.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Vermaelen 85), Arteta, Cazorla, Rosicky (Flamini 69), Podolski (Monreal 77), Giroud. Substitutes (not used): Fabianski, Jenkinson, Sanogo, Gnabry.
Goals: Arsenal - Rosicky (2 mins)
Yellows: Spurs – Chadli, Vertonghen, Bentaleb, Soldado; Arsenal – Sagna, Gibbs, Flamini
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: To follow...