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Lennon's right on time

Posted on 29 October 2008  - 12:00

David Bentley was the scorer of a Goal of the Season contender as the first North London derby of the season finished all square at 4-4 after a dramatic comeback at the Emirates Stadium.

Lennon's right on time

David Bentley was the scorer of a Goal of the Season contender as the first North London derby of the season finished all square at 4-4 after a dramatic comeback at the Emirates Stadium.

Two set-pieces either side of half-time really proved our undoing and then, forced to try and go on the offensive, Arsenal managed to extend the margin of their advantage, although Darren Bent did reduce the deficit to 3-2 in-between times. Jermaine Jenas scored a stunning late goal for 4-3 before Aaron Lennon stunned the home crowd with a stoppage time leveller.

It was frenetic stuff from the off until Tom Huddlestone found his range with a telling throughball to set Gareth Bale scampering away down the left. The full-back - deployed in left midfield on his return to the side after suspension - darted into the area before targeting Manuel Almunia's near post, but not with great accuracy.

Emmanuel Adebayor teed up Theo Walcott for a drive at goal at the other end of the pitch, with the England man drilling low and thankfully beyound Heurelho Gomes' far post.

Next came an audacious moment from Bentley that will live long in the memory. With 13 minutes on the clock and the ball bobbing around 40-plus yards out, Jermaine Jenas chested down in the direction of Bentley, who went for goal and then some. The former Arsenal player planted a high dipping effort over Almunia and into the top corner of the net - it was a shock and awe moment.

Robin van Persie came close to levelling matters a few minutes later with a low free-kick that slipped through the ball, calling on Gomes to be particularly alert to turn around the post.

The home crowd were roused from their post-goal silence when Gomes came out a long way to grab a corner but, in the process of doing so, his momentum took him into Adebayor and his crash landing led to the ball being spilled with William Gallas unable to make him pay.

It was a case of contain and counter, with Gomes making a fine save from Cesc Fabregas but, from the resulting low-flighted corner from van Persie, Mikael Silvestre stole in front of Jenas and Gomes to steer home a glancing header on 37 minutes.

Arsenal took this momentum into the second half and, from another van Persie set piece, the head of Gallas directed the ball powerfully into the bottom corner of the net, beating the outstretched left palm of Gomes.

From being early leaders the team were now firmly on the back foot and struggling to make in-roads into Arsenal territory. Gomes made a smart reaction save from Denilson as the home side cranked up the pressure and Harry Redknapp responded with the introduction of Aaron Lennon in place of Bale.

Adebayor flashed just wide following a passage of play where the ball should really have been cleared at least twice as Darren Bent was being readied in front of the visitors' dug-out. Before he could make his entrance Bentley fizzed in a shot that Almunia did well to foil.

On 64 minutes the advantage was extended to 3-1 when a throughball dissected our defences and Samir Nasri lifted over the advancing Gomes. Alan Hutton looked like he might clear with the ball taking its time to land, but Adebayor stole in to shove both ball and player into the back of the net.

The deficit was quickly reduced when Almunia could not hang on to a stinging drive from Huddlestone and Bent, drafted in for Pavlyuchenko, pinged home on 67 minutes.

Thoughts of drawing level did not last too long though as Hutton gave the ball away to Adebayor who in turn switched play to van Persie to the right of the area. The Dutchman took aim from an angle and defeated Gomes with the pace of his effort.

A Bentley free-kick fell inches away from the toe of Jenas, but otherwise the ball was spending most of its time in the half we were defending.

Chris Gunter came on for the last ten minutes in a straight swap for Hutton. It was Jenas who was to have the next say after cutting in from the left after a lengthy run and curling the ball precisely past Almunia to set up a big finish.

That big finish duly came when Modric smashed in a shot that struck the post and Lennon was on hand to slot past Almunia. Cue wild celebrations in front of the Spurs fans.