What a fantastic North London Derby.
Arsenal, struggling with an injury to key defender Gallas and missing Senderos from suspension meant that Arsene had to make do with a jet-lagged Gilberto alongside Toure in defence. Fabregas was joined by Flamini in the middle with Abou Diaby on the left to add a bit of height and power to the midfield.
Both sides wanted to play football and in the end it was an open match.
And it was Spurs who opened the scoring when sloppy tackle from Gilberto resulted in a freekick which was well converted by Gareth Bale on 15 minutes.
But Arsenal look dangerous and created numerous chances.
Diaby was the culprit of missing Arsenal’s best chance of the first half, receiving the ball after some excellent work from Hleb but managed to smash his effort against the bar.
Hleb and Adebayor looked lively with Fabregas pulling the strings and both had opportunities saved by Paul Robinson.
And at the start of the second half, Spurs had fantastic chance to put the game beyond Arsenal when Berbatov dribbled past Almunia leaving just Toure to beat. But the Arsenal captain was exceptional and managed to steal the ball from the feet of the striker.
Then Sagna drove into the Spurs box and setup a wonderful chance for Adebayor, who managed to smash his effort high, wide and not so handsome.
But this young Arsenal team showed this new found determination they seem to have this season and found a way to claw there way back into the match.
A Fabregas freekick – which was like a carbon copy of Toure’s goal at Spurs last season – this time found Adebayor who coolly headed into the net against a flailing Paul Robinson.
Spurs had a couple of great chances to nick the lead once again, with Clichy saving a Berbatov chance off the line and Robbie Keane seeing his ‘offside’ chance well saved by Almunia. When Keane was put through the linesman incorrectly flagged for offside, and unbeknown to Arsenal was overturned by the referee. So huge credit to Almunia for making a crucial save when most goalkeepers would have been appealing for offside – which we now know wouldn’t have been given.
Then the character and resilience of Arsenal paid off when Cesc Fabregas scored a quite fantastic goal to put Arsenal 2-1 up. Spurs paid the ultimate price for backing off the seemingly prolific Spaniard who had time and space to measure his shot – and how. His effort whistled past Robinson into the top right hand corner.
Stunning comeback from Arsenal!
Then deep into stoppage time Cesc found himself with yet another assist when his pass was converted by the supremely confident Adebayor who scored an early contender for goal of the season.
He received the ball on the edge of the area and flicked it up to his left. With his next touch he smashed the ball into the roof of the net – who needs Thierry Henry?
The reaction of the third goal on the bench said it all. Arsene Wenger and Pat Rice – and the rest of the players on the bench, including Van Persie – had this togetherness we haven’t seen for a long time. When have you ever seen the ever-so-cool and calm Arsene Wenger engage (with Van Persie) in a cool Soul Brother Handshake?
Arsenal have been excellent this season, apart from a couple of needless goalkeeping blunders, and the opportunities Arsenal conceded to Spurs yesterday can partly attributed to playing a midfielder in central defence. Arsenal should have Senderos and Gallas back soon to partner Toure at the back so we will have even more steel in defence.
In attack Adebayor was sensational. Granted, he missed a couple of decent chances but he had the determination to keep going and he got his reward in the end with a vital equalising goal and his second which just gets better and better the more you see it.
People forget that he is still only 23 and many have questioned his ability. Well there’s no doubt that under Arsene Wenger he’s got every chance to join Vieira and Henry in becoming a player who can do special things for Arsenal. That goal was special for a few reasons.
The first was having the sheer audacity to even attempt something like that. For much of Ade’s Arsenal career, his playing technique has been almost ‘painting by numbers’. Adebayor is now looking like a younger Thierry Henry – trying new things – without the restriction of trying to instead find an iconic superstar with every pass. Would he have even attempted that with Henry alongside him?
And Fabregas is another who is really flourishing without Henry.
The goals are spread across the team and Cesc is one of the men who is taking advantage. 5 goals already this season – and goals from all kinds of areas – is hugely encouraging.
Last season was all about Cristiano Ronaldo but this could be Cesc’s year.
Arsenal seem to play with more freedom and look like a team who will be harder to beat this season. The young guns are ready to step up to the plate.
Well you should be.