Arsenal came to this North London derby against Tottenham as underdogs for the first time in recent history, with the Champions League and FA Cup disappointments as a reminder to Arsene Wenger and his failings this season. So what? Arsenal fought back from 0-2 down in a brilliant display, thrashing a very disappointing Spurs team 5-2.
Championship? No chance, if there was any left for Spurs. Like in all of their big away matches this season, they simply didn’t come to play. They scored a lucky goal thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor’s shot sliding off of Thomas Vermaelen, and then got a penalty despite Gareth Bale diving and not being touched by Wojciech Szczesny. They didn’t try to actually show their quality, and were punished rather quickly for it.
Arsenal have a terrible defense and a goalkeeper that doesn’t pour of confidence. It didn’t matter. Arsenal came to play their game, and with a very sharp Van Persie, Walcott and Tomas Rosicky, showed just how good they can be when the muse is there.
Including Yossi Benayoun in the starting lineup didn’t have a major impact, but Benayoun, like the rest of his midfield partners, simply dominated the middle of the park as Luka Modric and Scott Parker, along with an anemic Niko Kranjcar, failed to create anything for the men upfront. Van der Vaart and Adebayor were forgotten, far, far away. Gareth Bale didn’t have much impact, sent on to chase balls without much hope.
Above everyone, for Arsenal, were Song, Rosicky and Walcott. Song managed to bring his best to the defensive midfield, something that has been one of Arsenal’s greatest faults in recent years. Like we said, Tottenham’s midfield was nowhere to be found.
Rosicky, well, we all know what he’s good at and what aren’t his better traits. He played to his strengths all day long against a Tottenham side that didn’t view that tapes. They weren’t aggressive, and when you play a counter attacking tactic, being aggressive while trying to win the ball is a must.
Walcott? His best match of the season and one of the finest of his career. Not just the two goals, but he tormented Assou-Ekotto on the wing, constantly finding space between the flank and Ledley King who wasn’t enjoying one of his finest starts for the only club he’s ever played for. Walcott was placed at exactly the spot he is most productive at, and did what makes him best. His speed and surprising accuracy when in the box was simply too much.
Robin Van Persie? Now he’s at 23 goals for Arsenal this season, and there’s nothing surprising about him being pretty much impossible to mark when he’s not the only player deserving defensive focus.