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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 2 December 2006  - 12:00

Our first visit to the Emirates Stadium did not prove to be a profitable one as Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners in the first North London Derby of the season.

Our first visit to the Emirates Stadium did not prove to be a profitable one as Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners in the first North London Derby of the season.

Two first half goals pretty much dictated which direction the points would be heading. Emmanuel Adebayor took advantage of being clean through on goal and Gilberto scored from the penalty spot - something he was to repeat in the second period.

The shiny bowl that is Arsenal's new arena was echoing to the sound of a decent atmosphere as the 152nd North London Derby encounter got underway. Regular watchers said the venue had been a little quiet so far, but that was all expected to change this weekend.

The home side were quicker into their collective stride and more incisive with their early passing and tacking, but the first real opening was carved out by Dimitar Berbatov who got the better of Emmanuel Eboue and cut the ball back for Steed Malbranque. The Frenchman opted for the use of the outside of his boot and his effort spun past the reach of Jens Lehmann and wide of his left hand upright.

With 20 minutes on the clock though, it was Arsenal celebrating when Berbatov was harried out of possession by Kolo Toure, who proceeded to spring the offside trap to give Adebayor a clear run through on goal. The striker kept his composure to calmly stroke the ball past Paul Robinson.

Arsenal were looking the more likely to break the deadlock and the scoreline was not an injustice at that point as the men in white had yet to really click into gear as a unit. Our play became a bit ragged and as the half wore on some indiscipline crept in when Benoit Assou-Ekotto was carded for a mis-timed kick at Fredrik Ljunberg. It was fortunate that the resulting free-kick did not lead to an extending of the advantage.

Four minutes before the break they had the chance to do just that when Pascal Chimbonda was adjudged to have tripped Tomas Rosicky inside our penalty area. The full-back definitely got something of the ball, but referee Mr Poll was swift in his decision and Gilberto struck his kick low and firm past Robinson to make it two.

Berbatov had a half-chance to reduce the deficit just before the break, after which Jermaine Jenas and Lee Young-Pyo was introduced in place of Malbranque and Assou-Ekotto.

The hosts continued to play with the greater authority in the second half, but there was a good chance to pull one back just after the hour mark when Jenas tried his luck from distance. Lehmann could only parry back in the direction of the advancing Aaron Lennon, but he was denied when poised to strike after needing a touch or two to bring the ball under control.

It was a strange game in that for all their territory, Arsenal had not created much in the way of chances with Robinson not kept busy at all, while Lehmann's first activity of any significance was the Jenas long ranger. This game seemed to be all about approach play and Arsenal were the sharper.

A miserable early afternoon got worse on 71 minutes when Jenas was penalised for a trip on Van Persie and another penalty was awarded. Gilberto made no mistake for the second time.

We continued to search for what would have been a consolation but it wasn't to be.