MATCH REPORT: ARSENAL 2, SPURS 1
A 2-1 defeat was suffered at the Emirates, but it could have all been so different.
A 2-1 defeat was suffered at the Emirates, but it could have all been so different.Dimitar Berbatov levelled after Emmanuel Adebayor gave Arsenal the lead shortly after the break and then the Bulgarian was felled and a penalty awarded. Robbie Keane stepped up but Manuel Almunia saved. The home side went up the other end a few minutes later and scored a winner against the run of play.
A combination between Adebayor and Mathieu Flamini nearly paid dividends for the home side in the opening few minutes, the Frenchman's hooked shot just flying the right side of Paul Robinson's left-hand upright.
Eight minutes in, after soaking up a lot of pressure at the other end, Steed Malbranque's tenacity saw to it that Aaron Lennon was put in a crossing position and his cross was a tease - Berbatov just couldn't quite propel himself forward enough to make a connection and open the scoring.
We then progressed towards half-time and nothing really happened, Arsenal had a lot of the ball without creating anything, while Almunia was untroubled at the end half occupied by Spurs people.
The regular inhabitants of the Emirates were becoming a tad touchy over their team's lack of progress, although they were roused momentarily ten minutes before the break when Adebayor turned provider for Emmanuel Eboue and it took a reaction save from Robinson to divert his snap shot.
Berbatov gave Almunia some routine activity with a free-kick before a clever interchange between Robbie Keane and Lennon cooked up half a chance, which Kevin Prince Boateng swung not too far over the cross bar.
Robinson was in athetic action in the moments before half-time when he flung himself left to deny Kolo Toure's header disturbing his net following a Cesc Fabregas corner.
Just two and a half minutes into the second period the resistance of the team was broken after a clever passage of play that began with Tomas Rosicky running crossfield and finding Fabregas, who dispatched a backheel in the direction of Adebayor, the striker proceeding to slot calmly beyond Robinson.
Tom Huddlestone was introduced in an attempt to inject some precision passing into the heart of the team and he replaced Boateng just after the hour.
Lennon then employed a spot of wizardary to send over a cross to find Keane in space in front of goal - Keane thumping first time and rattling the bar. But, on 66 minutes, it was the Spurs fans jumping in celebration. A long ball from Younes Kabouln down the right flank ended up with Keane, who backheeled and found Berbatov at a really acute angle. The striker literally ripped the ball off his boot and it flew into the net past a stranded Almunia.
Level pegging and playing with increased confidence.
There was a new purpose and with this so nearly came reward when Berbatov was chopped inside the area and referee Mr Styles pointed spotwards. Keane stepped up but Almunia saved to his right. Keane was replaced with 15 minutes to go by Jermain Defoe.
Even before Defoe had touched the ball Arsenal restored their advantage. A Fabregas corner was met by a Nicklas Bentner leap and the net was rattling.
Adel Taarabt was added to the mix with just under ten minutes left on the clock and he later had a penalty claim rejected. The boys battled in there and rallied, Arsenal were not at all having it their own way, but the points stayed in N5 come the final whistle.