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West Ham United
November 17, 2012
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 60111
P. Mertesacker 24'
L. Podolski 42'
O. Giroud 45'+
T. Walcott 90'+
E. Adebayor 10'
G. Bale 70'
Arsene Wenger will be delighted with the victory, which leaves them in sixth place, eight points behind Manchester Unite having played a game more. Spurs slip to eighth place, and it'll be interesting to see what Villas-Boas has to say about this one. Thanks for joining us, and stay on the site for more reaction from the game as it unfolds. Enjoy a great afternoon of football.
But that's it! Arsenal take the points and inflict misery on Spurs in the process after coming from behind to destroy their north London rivals. In truth the game was turned on its head by Adebayor's needless red card after his early goal, but the Gunners were simply scintillating, with Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla and Podolski all in great form.
90' + 3'
Dawson stops it from being six as he does well to cut out Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross from the right. The hosts will have one last corner to try for a sixth...
90' + 1'
Assist Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
90' + 1'
Goal Theo Walcott
IT'S FIVE FOR THE GUNNERS!!! Walcott has moved into the central position following Giroud's departure, and finds a finish from 12 yards after a bulldozing run from Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was always likely - see my comment in the 86th minute if you don't believe me. A great day for Walcott and for Arsenal, who have ripped the visitors apart today.
Dempsey's failed to get into the game today and has seemed off the pace as he gives the ball away yet again - the American has been disappointing up alongside Defoe today, and will struggle to get a place in Spurs' starting XI with more performances like this.
After a difficult start to his Arsenal career, Olivier Giroud is fast becoming a fan favourite here, and receives a standing ovation as he is replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain. What's the bet on the youngster hitting Spurs on the counter for a fifth?
Vermaelen is through on the left in the box, but can't quite shape his body to finish and can only scuff his finish wide of Lloris' right-hand post. The French keeper has done well today, and can't really be faulted for any of the goals.
The home crowd are (almost) beginning to cheer passes made by their side - they're beginning to believe their side are close to victory. Are there any more surprises in store in the last 10 minutes though? It would take something truly special from Villas-Boas' men.
Yellow Card Lukas Podolski
Podolski leaves the pitch to a hero's reception, and is replaced by Andre Santos - the Brazilian not particularly popular with Arsenal fans at the moment, but is still welcomed as Wenger looks to see this game out.
Spurs are doing all the pressing now, but are caught on the counter following a Spurs corner. It's three on two, but Ramsey wastes it by floating a ball into the area which Lloris collects. Wenger will be furious, as the last thing Arsenal need to do now is needlessly cede possession. He should have just held on the ball.
Defoe is completely unmarked at the back post as a corner flies in, and as the ball reaches him, he miscues horribly and miskicks it wide. Big chance for Spurs.
The Emirates crowd has gone quiet as Spurs look to push for the unlikeliest of comebacks here, but you've got to feel their best chance of doing so may have been and gone with Bale's rush of blood to the head there. Did he choose the shot because he had scored just before? Perhaps, but a truly world-class player needs to know when to shoot and when to pass, regardless of talent.
Bale wastes a glorious chance to make it 4-3! The winger is through on the left winger and into the area, and Defoe is waiting to tap the ball into the net to set up a tense finale - but rather than pull it back for his team mate, the 23-year-old elects to fire it at goal and find neither the net or the striker. Defoe kicks the post in frustration, and that was a bad, bad decision for Bale.
Goal Gareth Bale
LIFELINE!!! Bale has been in fine form for Spurs today, and he scores a fabulous goal to give his side the faintest of chances. Arsenal are lazy in possession, and Sandro heads the ball down to the winger 45 yards out. The Welshman drives across the pitch to around 25 yards out and finds the bottom right-hand corner of Szczensy's net. Great goal, and this could get interesting.
Podolski almost finds the run of Giroud in behind the Spurs defence on the left but Lloris is quickly out to smother the ball. This could end up as any scoreline for the hosts if they really want to press home their advantage...
Speak of the devil - Walcott almost fashions a fifth, but instead of shooting from 12 yards, attempts to beat Dawson again before finishing. He does beat the defender, but takes the ball too wide of Lloris, who palms his effort out for a corner.
Yellow Card Sandro
Despite Arsenal having the numerical advantage, it has to be said that Walcott has had an absolutely superb game today. He has been calm and composed, and has always offered a threat wherever he's been on the pitch. He wants to play up front, but he's been sensational on the wings today. In fact, the Englishman, Giroud and Podolski have all combined well as a front three - promising for Wenger.
Villas-Boas is pacing along the edge of his technical area and looks on the verge of jumping out on to the pitch - today he has learnt how cruel a north London derby can be. I wouldn't want to be Adebayor at full time, not at all...
Almost five for the hosts as Wilshere drives forward and can't get a shot away, and Walcott finds his 12-yard effort blocked. Moments later Giroud slams a left-footed effort over the bar - this could get very bad for the visitors.
Assist Lukas Podolski
Goal Santi Cazorla
IT'S FOUR FOR ARSENAL!!! Walcott brings the ball down well on the left and sets Podolski away down the wing, and the forward looks up and finds Cazorla with a fine cross, and the Spaniard slams a finish past the helpless Lloris. Surely that's game over now...
Defoe is looking isolated up front despite the introduction of Dempsey...
The home side have been a little subdued in the opening 10 minutes here as they look to guard their two-goal advantage. The home side are a little restless as they will surely feel this is a perfect opportunity to embarrass their fierce rivals - but will Wenger order his players to go for the kill with so much football still left to play?
Walcott is clutching his left shoulder after going down on it heavily following a strong challenge by Dawson - the winger may have to come off here as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain strips off, but there's no change yet.
Bale is trying to do it all himself here, and although he again goes on a decent run from the right to left, he doesn't have enough support to fashion anything concrete.
Another corner for Spurs after Bale does well against Sagna, but once again Huddlestone disappoints with his delivery - he really will need to improve if Spurs are to fight their way to any points today.
Vertonghen does well to block a move at the back before surging all the way to within 30 yards of Arsenal's goal, but loses possession. He can definitely get forward well, but will have to be careful at getting caught out in defence with only 10 players.
Spurs pressing early here but Huddlestone takes an abject corner that doesn't beat the first man. The away side will press here - can they make it another famous comeback against their rivals, or will Wenger's side demolish the diminished visitors?
You know what, Villas-Boas has made a switch - two in fact. Kyles Walker and Naughton depart to be replaced by Clint Dempsey and Michael Dawson. That's a bold move from the Portuguese boss, but will it pay off?
The Gunners looked in danger of slipping away without trace in the opening 15 minutes, but Adebayor has wrecked Villas-Boas' plans with a moment of recklessness. Will the Spurs manager change things up at half time to go for the goals his side desperately needs? It's hard to see which substitutions he could make straight away without opening the game up too much and risking a massacre.
That's half time! Well, Adebayor goes from hero to zero as Tottenham capitulate following the striker's red card - have they got anything left to pull back a two-goal advantage? Arsenal looked rampart as they closed the half, so it could be a long second 45 minutes for Spurs fans...
45' + 1'
Assist Santi Cazorla
45' + 1'
Goal Olivier Giroud
GIROUD MAKES IT THREE!!! Catastrophe for Spurs as they are now 3-1 down. Cazorla is fouled by Webb waves play-on and the Spanish midfielder drives into the box past Lennon, and pulls back the ball fro the French striker, who slides a finish in low past Lloris courtesy of a deflection. Is that game over?
Yellow Card Aaron Lennon
Spurs are in danger of unraveling here - Lennon is booked for a foul - but it only gets worse...
Villas-Boas will be dejected at the way that goal went in - Arsenal's attempted passing move was partially cut out by Huddlestone, but the Gunners smuggled the ball to Podolski, and the ball ended up in the net. Despite the crude mechanics, Wenger won't care one bit.
Goal Lukas Podolski
ARSENAL ARE AHEAD!!! It's a bizarre goal which Podolski will claim. The striker shapes to shoot across Lloris, and while Gallas gets to the ball, it bobbles off of him and agonizingly past the French keeper into the corner of his net. Lucky for the hosts, but they deserve that lead.
Close for Giroud! Sagna is free on the right to curl in a cross, which finds Giroud six yards out - the striker's header has power but not precision as Lloris clutches the ball close to his chest. Big let-off for the visitors there.
If ever there was a player marked for a booking, it is Sandro. He clumsily fouls Wilshere and is given a final warning by Webb, but the Brazilian will surely end this game with at least one card, especially with Adebayor currently enjoying a very early bath.
Despite their relative strengths on the ball, both sides look dangerous from set pieces today - what's the betting on a game between two of the most attractive teams in the league being settled by an aerial battle?
Bale has just gone on one of the longest dribbles in history. He started at left-back, ran across the defence and through Arsenal on the right wing to force a corner for his side. Fantastic control and fitness there - he'll have to have a massive game for the visitors today.
Huddlestone puts in a very tempting free kick from the left which is just too far away from Gallas and Vertonghen - if Spurs are to threaten in this game now, set pieces seem the most likely route to chances.
Cazorla fizzes in an effort from the left with the laces of his right foot which swerves just over Lloris' bar - Arsenal are enjoying themselves at the moment.
Giroud almost gives Arsenal the lead! Wilshere swings in a free kick from the right wing, and the Frenchman gets a strong head on the ball which Lloris does well to acrobatically tip over the bar. Decent stop there.
It really was a fantastic header by Mertesacker - the ball was slightly behind him but he generated so much power and direction from his leap that Lloris had no chance of reaching the far-post header. That was a finish any centre-forward would be proud of.
Arsenal's players are so pumped they have to avoid being a danger to themselves, as Vermaelen almost unleashes a shot when attempting to pass the ball back to Szczesny. It's good control from the keeper, but Wenger might just ask his players to calm down a little to avoid any such ridiculousness.
Assist Theo Walcott
Goal Per Mertesacker
EQUALISER FOR ARSENAL!!! it's the big centre-back Per Mertesacker, who unleashes a glorious header into Lloris' net from the penalty spot after great work out on the right by Walcott. How quickly games can change - the home crowd are delirious, Wenger's players are pumped up, and Spurs have a massive job on their hands over the next few minutes.
How will Tottenham cope with that dismissal? Adebayor's certainly made an early impact on this one, but if his side go on to lose, his manager will be fuming. The striker is clearly talented, but that could well be one step too far for his long-term Spurs career under Villas-Boas.
Villas-Boas is not happy, but Adebayor didn't need to make that tackle. The ball was in the air and with both players in the middle of the pitch, there was no immediate danger to Spurs. Silly challenge to make, and now Arsenal will look to dominate possession.
Red Card Emmanuel Adebayor
RED CARD FOR ADEBAYOR!!! Well, that certainly opens up the game. Santi Cazorla looks to control the ball and the striker launches himself into the tackle, catching the Spaniard full on the foot with his studs raised. Webb delays his decision as players from both sides clash, but produces a straight red. Spurs are down to 10 men.
More promising from Arsenal here as Wilshere turns Huddlestone and looks to feed Podolski - the through-ball has too much on it but the German's pull-back is cleared by Vertonghen.
Well, this is certainly a rude awakening for the home fans, with Spurs looking dangerous every time they go forward - can the Gunners battle their way back into this one? Koscielny thinks so as he makes a vital tackle on Lennon with the winger looking to sprint past him - great tackle.
So close to a second for Spurs! Great forward play between Defoe and Bale sees the Wales winger feeding Lennon on the right - the Englishman teases Vermaelen before unleashing a low drive at goal, which skids just wide of Szczesny's right-hand post. Villas-Boas' attacking tactics are really paying off here.
Goal Emmanuel Adebayor
SPURS LEAD!!! And no prizes for guessing who scored it - it's the former Arsenal striker Adebayor! Vertonghen launches a glorious through-ball to Defoe, who is in on goal, and attempts to side-foot a finish past Szczesny from 12 yards. The Polish keeper can only palm the ball into the path of the Togolese striker, who finishes from inside the six-yard box. First blood to the visitors...
Spurs have a goal disallowed! The free kick was only partially cleared and fell to Tom Huddlestone, who cracked a shot in - the ball defected to William Gallas of all people, who finished beautifully with his left foot from 12 yards, but he was flagged offside - good call from the assistant referee there.
Lennon is dumped on the ground by Vermaelen - another of those and the Belgian will definitely go into the book. Now Bale can whip in a free kick...
Tottenham's wing backs are already playing very high up the pitch - is that advisable against the likes of Walcott and Podolski? I guess we'll find out until the Arsenal wide men manage to get on the ball...
Walker surges forward but loses the ball 30 yards from goal - it was a decent run from the right-back, and we could be seeing plenty more of those enterprising runs from the 22-year-old.
Arsenal have a free kick 45 yards from goal and Arteta curls it in, but Sandro gets his head to it and clears the ball - just as well really, as the Brazilian gave the foul away in the first place.
Sandro unceremoniously dumps Olivier Giroud to the floor but Howard Webb waves play-on there -it was tough but clean, and it seems like the referee will be allowing the sides to play a free-flowing game.
Arsenal get us underway, and Adebayor gets his fair share of boos before being dispossessed by Wilshere, who is cheered - heroes and villains already, then.
The teams are out and shaking hands, and we're almost ready for yet another clash between Arsenal and Spurs. Let's hope it lives up to recent games between the sides - if it does, we're in for cracker.
The Premier League table already makes grim reading if you're a fan of either side - Manchester United lead the way with 27 points, while Tottenham sit 10 behind them, with Arsenal a further point off their north London rivals. If Spurs get a victory and the Red Devils win at Norwich later on today, Wenger's side could be 14 points off the pace, and effectively out of the title hunt by mid-November - which should make for a great derby today.
The game may well turn on whoever wins the battle between Theo Walcott and Kyle Naughton - the 24-year-old is primarily a right back, but with Benoit Assou-Ekotto out injured and Jan Vertonghen filling in for the injured Steven Caulker in the centre, the stage is set for a fascinating tussle on the flank.
Spurs' Portuguese manager is evidently going for a win with a front two of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe. Will the concession of some possession in the middle be rewarded with a greater threat up front? It's a gamble, but after slipping to defeat at Manchester City last week after leading, Villas-Boas seems more confident of causing Arsenal problems today.
So the big news for both sides concerns their goalkeepers. Wojciech Szczesny comes back into the side after injur, replacing Vito Mannone for the home side. And for the visitors, Villas-Boas has elected to start Hugo Lloris ahead of veteran Brad Friedel. Big calls from both bosses there - will they be proved right?
Tottehman team news: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Sandro, Huddlestone, Bale; Adebayor, Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Dawson, Livermore, Townsend, Carroll, Dempsey, Sigurdsson.
The team news is in...Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Walcott, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Santos, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of Arsenal - Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas have huge ambitions for their north London sides this season, but with both struggling to keep pace with league leaders Manchester United, today could be an absolutely crucial match for both teams.
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