Gunners secure fourth round spot at local rivals' expense...
Both sides made major changes to their starting line-ups for their third round tie with Spurs making 10 changes, and handing debuts to goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, Steven Caulker and Sandro. The visitors, meanwhile, made eight changes with Lukasz Fabianski, Henri Lansbury and Carlos Vela all given rare starts.
The Gunners looked to have the slightly stronger team on paper and so it proved in a one-sided first half that Arsene Wenger’s side dominated and managed to take a deserved, yet narrow, lead with them into the break.
The theme was set after just five minutes when Carlos Vela thumped a shot over the bar from range. Five minutes later and Arsenal might have had a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent Lansbury to the ground in the box but referee Lee Probert ignored the visitors’ claims.
However, Arsenal did not have to wait long to take the lead and with a quarter of an hour gone a flowing move sliced Tottenham apart and led to Lansbury opening the scoring.
The danger came down the Gunners’ left and after Gibbs had found Rosicky, he teed up the overlapping Wilshere to send in a delicious low cross for Lansbury to slide in past a static defence and poke home from close range.
With their lead established the visitors continued to dominate possession, yet without creating many clear-cut chances. However, they might have added a second five minute before the break when another sublime Wilshere pass found Gibbs clean through on goal. The left-back only had Pletikosa to beat but was denied by the offside flag, a decision television replays showed to be incorrect.
In contrast Spurs offered little aside from wayward shots from range from David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko and in truth Harry Redknapp’s men must have been delighted to head into the break just one goal down.
Hooray Henri | Lansbury celebrates opening the scoring
Perhaps unsurprisingly Tottenham made changes at the break sending on Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane with Jake Livermore and Giovani Dos Santos the men to make way and the changes proved to be inspired as within four minutes of the restart Spurs were level. A pass by Naughton found Keane in the box, who appeared to be offside, but play continued and the substitute sent a low finish past Fabianski who got hands to the ball but couldn’t stop it rolling past him and into the net.
Suddenly the home side were on top but Arsenal gradually began to find their way back and as the game opened up chances came for both sides with Pavlyuchenko firing a chance over the bar before Eboue, on the break, did likewise at the other end.
With an hour on the clock Arsenal went even closer after a gorgeous ball into the box by Rosicky beat Bassong and found Vela but the Mexican could only head wide from close range. Back came Spurs with Keane finding Lennon racing into the box but just as the winger shaped to shoot in came Koscielny with a superb sliding tackle to deny the Englishman. Seconds later, the action switched to the other end again with Wilshere denied by a block by Bassong.
With 20 minutes to go, Arsenal made a double change with Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin replacing Tomas Rosicky and Carlos Vela yet it was Spurs who were to go closest in the closing stages.
With less than 10 minutes to go a David Bentley free-kick whipped into the box found Keane who touched the ball onto the post from a matter of yards much to the anguish of the White Hart Lane faithful.
And so onto extra-time and within 30 seconds of the restart Arsenal were awarded a penalty after Bassong tangled with Nasri. Up stepped the Frenchman to convert the kick and put the Gunners back into the lead.
Incredibly only minutes later Arsenal were awarded another penalty after Caulker tugged at Chamakh and sent the striker to the ground, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Again it was Nasri, and again the Frenchman made no mistake sending his kick this time to the left of Pletikosa to all but seal the win.
Ye there was still time for the visitors to exact further punishment and exact they did when a quick free kick by Wilshere found Arshavin who fired an unstoppable shot across goal to add some gloss to the scoreline and send the Gunners into the fourth round.