Tottenham triumph in North London Derby

Tottenham won a pulsating north London derby
to go third in the league and seven points
ahead of Arsenal. Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon slotted in two
carbon copy goals in three first-half minutes after
defence-splitting passes to put Spurs in control. It was Bale’s ninth goal in seven games but Per
Mertesacker’s header went in off the Welshman to
give Arsenal hope. Bale skied a far-post chance before Arsenal’s
Aaron Ramsey almost equalised but drove a shot
just wide. Entertainment and goals are a regular occurrence
between these two sides and there was no
shortage of it in an enthralling contest at White
Hart Lane. Tottenham’s failure to take a number of glorious
chances to wrap up the game as Arsenal
desperately chased an equaliser only added to the
drama. But the home side held on after enduring six
minutes of added time to go 12 games unbeaten
and, in the process, leapfrog Chelsea as well as
move two points behind second-placed
Manchester City. The wizardry of Spurs winger Bale has swept all
before him this year and he was again on the
score sheet for his side as the Spurs standard
bearer took his tally to 20 goals for the season. The Gunners paid the price for a serious lapse of
concentration towards the end of the first half,
with their determined efforts after the break not
enough to retrieve the situation. There had been a huge sense of anticipation
around the game and that transformed itself into
an intensity and urgency on the pitch in the
fevered atmosphere of a game between these
rivals. In the frenetic opening skirmishes, the Gunners
almost picked their way through when Santi
Cazorla’s incisive pass released Olivier Giroud,
whose shot was blocked by the sliding recovery
tackle of Jan Vertonghen. Arsenal were tigerish and tenacious but the
promise of their attacks were continually snuffed
out by the excellent Tottenham centre-backs
Vertonghen and Michael Dawson. They produced the resilience and awareness the
visitors could have done with from their defence,
who were twice caught out to give Spurs the
upper hand. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Parker each played
incisive passes from the left through the heart of
Arsenal’s defence for Bale and Lennon to score. Bale sent a 38th-minute left-foot shot into the
bottom corner before Lennon rounded Wojciech
Szczesny and slotted in his fourth goal of the
campaign. Spurs had led 1-0 and 2-0 against their rivals in
their past two meetings but ended up losing both
5-2 and Arsenal threatened another comeback
when Mertesacker’s glanced header from Theo
Walcott’s free-kick skimmed in off Bale’s head. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris crucially gathered a low
Carl Jenkinson cross as Giroud and Aaron Ramsey
threatened to pounce before Spurs took back a
grip on the fluctuating game. Bale blazed over an Benoit Assou-Ekotto cross
from the left before Sigurdsson was clean
through only to square the ball for Mertesacker to
clear instead of shooting. Arsenal were exposed as they piled forward and
Defoe sent a shot agonisingly wide as the home
side again failed to put Arsenal away. Spurs were almost punished when Walcott curled
a 22-yard free-kick just wide towards the end. Tottenham will feel they are strongly placed for a
top four spot but there will also be a note of
caution after they let a similar lead over Arsenal
slip last season.


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