Arsenal recover to rout Spurs in derby

Arsenal made a mockery of any pre-match talk that the balance of power may have shifted across North London to Tottenham Hotspur when they came back to beat their arch-rivals 5-2 at home in a remarkable Premier League derby on Sunday.

Tottenham, who have enjoyed a superb season and started the match 10 points clear of Arsenal in third place, were in the rare position of being favourites as they looked to complete a league double over Arsenal for the first time since 1993.

In contrast Arsenal were lacking form and confidence after losing 4-0 at AC Milan in the Champions League and 2-0 at Sunderland in the FA Cup in their last two matches as they face a seventh successive season without a trophy.

However, the home side re-discovered all of their verve to send Spurs home well beaten as they have done so many times during nearly 20 years of dominance.

Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was at a loss to explain how Arsenal fought back from falling 2-0 down after 34 minutes to win so easily after scoring five goals in a blistering 28 minute spell either side of half-time.

He was though defiant that Arsenal, who have endured an erratic season by their own high standards, could yet finish above Spurs again as they have done every season since 1996.

"It is still possible, so why not?" he told reporters. "It's all down to consistency and we have been very consistent in the Premier League over the last few months.

"Spurs started well today, but we showed great spirit and we played very well in the first half and were well on top in the second half."

He said there was no particular tactical reason why Arsenal suddenly took control to end a run of four league games without a win against Spurs.

Winger Theo Walcott, who was roundly booed and jeered by Arsenal fans while they were trailing, was perhaps the key player as he turned on a superb performance capped by two excellent second-half goals.

"The crowd were on his back, but he coped with it and did very well in the end. In fact everyone played well. We were tactically faster and superior with our passing today," Wenger added.

Arsenal moved into fourth place and the Champions League qualifying round berth, above Chelsea on goals scored, having added 12 to their total in their last two home games. They beat Blackburn Rovers 7-1 earlier this month.

Tottenham, despite a poor performance made worse by an 88th-minute red card for Scott Parker, are still well-placed to qualify for the Champions League direct with a seven-point advantage over Arsenal and Chelsea with 12 matches remaining.


Manager Harry Redknapp must hope that this shattering defeat does not undermine their confidence but is taking nothing for granted as he contemplates his own future as either the Spurs or possibly England's manager.

"It is going to be very tight at the end of the season," he said.

"We are still in a great position ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea, but as far as today goes I wasn't really comfortable when we were 2-0 up and I just wanted us to get to half-time ahead.

"But when they made it 2-2 by half-time the momentum was with them and I don't like to say it but they looked the more likely winners.

"We knew we were in for a very tough second half, and as they got stronger we buckled and we don't normally do that."

The last time Spurs conceded five was to Manchester City in a 5-1 home defeat in August and since then they have lost only three times in 24 league matches to move into Champions League contention.

"We need the same sort of response we showed after losing to City, starting next week against [Manchester] United, but it is going to be difficult because so many players will be away next week with their countries playing internationals," Redknapp said.

Louis Saha put Spurs ahead after four minutes and they doubled their lead half-an-hour later when Emmanuel Adebayor netted from the spot to become only the second player to score for both sides in the derby after Jimmy Robertson in the 1960s.

But after that, it was all Arsenal. Bacary Sagna pulled one back after 40 minutes with a powerful header and Robin van Persie equalised with a sublime curling shot two minutes later.

Tomas Rosicky pounced ahead of the leaden-footed Spurs defence to put Arsenal ahead after 51 minutes before Walcott put Spurs to the sword with two fine goals.

Arsenal's comeback will spur them on in their next home match on March 6 when they try to overturn their 4-0 first leg deficit against AC Milan in the Champions League.

Asked if it was possible, Wenger replied with a smile: "Why not?"