The young right-back wrong-footed Wojciech Szczesny with a long-range strike to seal the grudge match, after the Dutchman allegedly handled for the opener and should have seen red
Arsene Wenger sprung a surprise by naming young Francis Coquelin, who last started in the 8-2 humiliation by Manchester United, in a defensive midfield role, while Gervinho and Theo Walcott returned to the forward line after injury. Spurs were back to full strength after their midweek match, with Jermain Defoe partnering ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor in an offensive formation.
Tottenham started the brightest, and Wojciech Szczesny was called into action after five minutes when Alex Song gave the ball away softly, allowing Van der Vaart to feed Scott Parker, whose shot was tame and duly saved.
The Gunners should have had the lead when a marvellously strong surge into the box from Van Persie dragged two defenders with him before he gave it to Gervinho, who had most of the goal to aim at cutting in from the left but dragged his shot wide and out of harm’s way.
Walcott attempted multiple shots from range during the half, including, after half an hour, a left-footed effort as he received the ball on the right outside of the box, but it lifted too far over the far post.
With the half drawing to a close, Tottenham broke with Defoe through the middle, who fed Adebayor. The Togolese then lofted a ball just through Arsenal’s high defensive line for Van der Vaart, who chested down and evaded his marker to deliver a calm, left-footed finish into the far corner.
Arsenal, incensed, insisted that Van der Vaart had used his arm to control the pass, and, given that he had been booked earlier in the half for clumsily felling Kieran Gibbs, should technically have received a second yellow for his celebration, during which he ran into the crowd.
After the break, both Bale and Luka Modric had sights of goal but Arsenal made a vital early strike. Coming forward after an initial attack was rebuffed, Alex Song pushed down the left. Afforded acres of space by the Spurs defenders, he had an easy time of crossing across the face of goal, with Ramsey waiting to tap it in for the equaliser.
Spurs were taken aback but should have retaken the lead a few minutes later when Van der Vaart loosed Adebayor one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Szczesny was equal to the striker’s attempted chip and batted it away imperiously.
Harry Redknapp sought greater control by introducing Sandro just past the hour for the controversial – and apparently injured – Van der Vaart. Bacary Sagna also had to be withdrawn when he clattered awkwardly into an advertising board and signalled his injury to the Gunners’ bench.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Tottenham recaptured their advantage out of nowhere when a poor clearance out of the Arsenal box found Kyle Walker rushing forward, and the right-back took a first-time snap-shot from outside the box. It caught Szczesny by surprise and sailed under his outstretched arms to delight the home fans.
The hammer blow might and probably should have come just moments later when Song and Per Mertesacker allowed Brad Friedel’s goal kick to sail over them, with Bale darting through the defence to meet it, his shot dribbling just wide of goal in a huge let-off for the sleeping back line.
The visitors kept plugging away but found no openings, with Spurs the more threatening on the counter, Bale in particular a nuisance on the left flank. No Arsenal response was forthcoming, and White Hart Lane exploded in celebration as the final whistle confirmed their bragging rights.