Harry Redknapp's men just four points behind rivals after derby win
The game seemed as good as over in the first half when the sublime Cesc Fabregas first slipped in Samir Nasri to put the hosts 1-0 up, before starting the move that saw Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal in cruise control.
But Spurs showed their fighting spirit, which has been evident plenty of times over the last few weeks, to come back from goals from Gareth Bale and a penalty from Rafael van der Vaart before Younes Kaboul headed home with five minutes remaining to send the Spurs supporters into a frenzy.
A high tempo opening saw Arsenal immediately on the attack from kick-off with Fabregas finding enough space to worm a ball through to Samir Nasri, but the Frenchman was quickly dispossessed by fellow countryman, and the person whom he refused to shake hands with before the game, William Gallas who cleared the danger.
Up the other end, Spurs had an early corner, taken by Rafael van der Vaart, which was whipped in low into the box towards Gareth Bale who tried a flick with his heel that harmlessly bobbled towards Lukasz Fabianski.
Arsenal were upping the ante and managed to gain the early foothold that their pressure somewhat deserved.
A deep, hanging cross was lofted into the Spurs penalty area that Heurelho Gomes flapped at and from the following passing exchange Fabregas again spotted Nasri on the last opposition defender. Quick as a flash Nasri was on to the pass, slightly miscontrolling it initially but, with the help of questionable goalkeeping again from Gomes, was allowed the space to arrow a shot in from an extremely tight angle.
With Fabregas as always pulling the strings, Arsenal nearly adding a second soon afterwards but Marouane Chamakh was adjudged offside with replays suggesting otherwise. Tottenham were struggling to impose themselves on the game with an Arsenal second seeming inevitable and half-way through the second half that’s exactly what happened.
With Spurs slowly venturing upfield, Arsenal saw their opportunity and jumped into a counter-attack. With just four touches of the ball Fabregas played it wide to Andrey Arshavin who in turn found Chamakh bursting into the penalty area to slot the ball home past the helpless Gomes.
With more than just a whiff of desperation about them Luka Modric and Van der Vaart both tried their luck from 30 yards, with the former’s shot testing Fabianski well but the latter’s flying high and wide.
Spurs started to grow into the game as the first half drew to a close, putting together a few decent amounts of possession but it was Arsenal firmly in control and they could well have added a third before the break. First Fabregas fed through Chamakh, but the Moroccan failed to control the ball to allow Younes Kaboul to clear then Sagna whipped a low cross in from the right, but the onrushing Nasri failed to control.
Welsh flier | Arshavin brings down Bale who was on target yet again for Spurs
The visitors desperately needed a change of approach for the second half and manager Harry Redknapp jumped to it by bringing on Jermain Defoe, in place of the large ineffective Aaron Lennon, for the striker’s first appearance since injuring his ankle on international duty in September and the change made an impact straight away.
Beniot Assou-Ekotto hoofed the ball upfield towards Defoe and the striker somehow managed to beat Laurent Koscielny in the air to win the flick-on, despite being six inches shorter than the defender, and Van der Vaart duly controlled, looked up and prodded the ball through to Bale to run onto and finish with the outside of his much-praised left foot.
Spurs were suddenly up and running after a goal from absolutely nothing and came mighty close to grabbing an equaliser five minutes later when Roman Pavlyuchenko won a midfield battle with Denilson and played the ball out wide for Defoe. The striker was tripped when running across the face of the penalty area but Modric picked up the loose ball 25 yards out and his drive dipped fractionally too late to test Fabianski.
Arsenal still posed a very visible threat though and Chamakh was again on the end of a Fabregas ball but yet again the striker’s hesitation cost him and Gallas got back to steal the ball back for the opposition as Nasri fumed in frustration.
Yet more twists and turns were to come though and Fabregas, who was enjoying a glorious game thus far, quickly went from hero to zero as a Van der Vaart free-kick from the edge of the area was visibly blocked by the Spaniard’s arm and referee Phil Dowd promptly pointed to the spot. Van der Vaart stepped up and, banished memories of his missed penalty against FC Twente earlier in the season, to calmly chip the ball into the back of the net sending Fabianski the wrong way.
A lively game already was suddenly in overdrive and Arsenal’s disappointment was briefly turned to joy mere minutes later when a very well worked Robin van Persie free-kick was headed back across goal by Fabregas for Sebastien Squillaci to fire home from a few yards out only for the assistant to correctly recognise that both players were offside in the build-up to the goal.
Arsenal were obviously stunned but showed no backing down as they piled even more pressure onto the Spurs’ goal. Fabregas, intent on righting his wrong, brought a fantastic save out of Gomes, diving far to his left to claw a curling shot past the post with a strong left-hand, before Koscielny had the goal gaping but could only head over to the moans of the home support.
One final twist was left in the Spurs tank as the game approached full-time. Koscielny hacked down Gareth Bale as the winger tried to break down the right flank and from the resulting free-kick Van der Vaart swung in the ball from deep for Kaboul to head the ball on into the low left-hand corner of the Arsenal net for the most dramatic of comebacks and to win at their arch-rivals for the first time, in the league, in 17 years and to win away at one of the 'Big Four' for the first time in 69 attempts.
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