Nasri 9, Chamakh 27
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3
Bale 50, van der Vaart pen 67, Kaboul 85
Arsenal were on the verge of taking all three points from their arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby and in doing so would have gone top of the table. This was before Spurs managed a superb come back in the second half to stun the Emirates crowd.
This truly was a game of two halves as Arsenal dominated the first, taking a two goal lead through a wonder strike from Samir Nasri and then Marouane Chamakh. Arsenal were totally out-playing Tottenham and the break could not come soon enough for the away side. The second half saw a different Spurs team emerge from the dressing room and through perseverance and Arsenal’s desire to implode the white side of North London went home with all three points. The disappointing aspect for Arsenal is clear – no matter how much character and persistence Spurs managed to show, it is inexcusable a two goal lead should be thrown away, especially in a derby.
Arsenal will have to look at both the positives and negatives of this game and there were many of both. The main plus points were that Nasri dispelled the myth that foreign players do not understand the intensity of a derby like this, when he not only refused to shake the hand of ex-Arsenal defender William Gallas but also showed his metal on the pitch. He seemed not only able to light the touch paper in the build up to the game but also in the manner in which he scored the first goal, which was nothing less than magnificent.
Cesc Fabregas was delectable in the way he controlled the game and orchestrated the play, bringing players into the game at will. It is true that his handball allowed the away side to gain a penalty but this one piece of stupidity was the only blot on his performance. It is very hard to pick holes in Arsenal’s performance. The Gunners were in control in the first half and the away side were constantly found wanting.
Negatives have to be put into two simple categories – wasted chances and lack of concentration. It is inconceivable that Arsenal managed to ride out an onslaught at Everton the previous week but seemed incapable of keeping enough composure to see this match out. It may have been naivety, and Arsene Wenger himself found the loss inexplicable.
Once again it was an Arsenal performance that repeatedly teased the loyal fans. 45 minutes gone and Arsenal were going top of the table – 45 minutes later and every man and woman in the red and white colours were left dumbstruck – not by Tottenham – but the continued enigma that is Arsenal.
3 Sagna – 18 Squillaci – 6 Koscielny – 22 Clichy
8 Nasri – 15 Denilson – 4 Fabregas – 17 Song – 23 Arshavin
68 – 11 van Persie on for 29 Chamakh
77 – 7 Rosicky on for 8 Nasri
77 – 14 Walcott on for 23 Arshavin