“Welcome to my nightmare, welcome to my breakdown.”
Alice Cooper’s 1975 campy anthem sums up the last five minutes of the first half for Spurs.
Harry Redknapp probably regrets starting a clearly unfit Ledley King who has struggled with injuries this season. Sagna on the right whips in a cross which Van Persie reacts to more quickly, outmaneuvering King to turn the ball past Heurelho Gomes for the first goal in the 42nd minute. At the kick off, it got worse with Wilson Palacios gifting the ball to Fabregas who turns on the burners a la Walcott and zigzags down midfield leaving bemused defenders in his wake before finishing impeccably for Arsenal’s second goal. It was a master strike. Two goals just before half time. Spurs caught, in the red, napping.
It was as if the excruciating 40 minutes before these moments of magic did not happen. That period of time seemed to be stuffed into a giant black hole. Was it an apparition? Because Arsenal began as if they had not recovered from the West Ham hangover. Tentative and dull with too many errant passes. And it did not improve. Diaby was all sixes and nines. Fabregas was invisible. Arshavin was a ball hog. But those five minutes, Arsenal was transformed.
Arsenal with the wind on their backs got better in the second half. Eduardo who subbed Bendtner after the Dane left with a groin injury in the 36th minute, should have gotten two more goals, both times with only Gomes to beat. However, RVP once again beat King and Gomes for the third goal which came as Spurs waited for a whistle from Mark Clattenberg after a foul by Benoit Ekotto on Eduardo. The referee played the advantage as Sagna raced down the right with the ball and laid a low cross that both Spurs were unable to clear and again Van Persie was left to turn the ball into goal.
Almunia was solid but he was never tested seriously except for a Bentley shot which he tipped over comfortably in the end and a few half chances by Peter Crouch. Clichy had a much improved game and Diaby improved in the second half. Song was physical and he was a disruptive presence in the Spurs passing game. Wenger exhorting from the sidelines made sure that gifting even one goal to their hated rivals was unacceptable. It made a refreshing change from Arsenal’s complacence so evident in the last few matches.
A thoroughly satisfying win with the burden shifting once again Spurs way to make the case that they have a team that can finish ahead of the Gunners.
For those Alice Cooper fans here is – Welcome to My Nightmare