Gone are the days you could turn to Spurs for comic relief. Nowadays the North London derby has gone through a revisionism. The first half was a frenetic kaleidoscope of highlights which produced 5 goals of extra-ordinary quality. Lets put it this way the defense did not get in the way.
Theo Walcott was the man for Arsenal putting them first on board with a scintillating finish and then providing an exquisite cross for Robin Van Persie to power a header which Heurelho Gomes saved but the Dutch striker was able to lash in the rebound. The winger again came close when his shot just whistled past the far post with Gomes breathing a sigh of relief. In between Samir Nasri resurrected his goalscoring touch as he smashed in a shot through traffic and an unsighted Gomes.
The Gunners were up 3-1 with Rafael Van Der Vaart's superb one touch finish off Vedran Corluka's cross being the only blot. This being the new Arsenal the critical question becomes what lead is safe? Answer: None so far. Within minutes of Van Persie's goal a weak Arsenal clearance invited Tim Huddlestone to send in a thundering half volley which gave Wojciech Szczesny no chance. Shades of Danny Rose's marvelous goal at White Hart Lane a season ago. The half finished 3-2.
The second half had a theme: Spurs outplaying Arsenal in the middle of the field and maintaining possession of the ball. Alex Song and Abou Diaby were nowhere to be found. And Wilshere replacing Diaby was equally anonymous for the second game in a row.
Gareth Bale was a non factor taken off after a collision with Szczesny left him unable to continue. But there was no drop off in pace or threat on the flank as Benoit Assou Ekotto turned in one of his best performances. In the 70th minute his pinpoint diagonal pass sent Aaron Lennon scampering. Szczesny gets the blame for bringing down Lennon but what else was he to do? The Arsenal defense was nowhere to be found. Spurs again found a way to comeback. They won the battle of wills - faster on the ball, won the 50-50s, and looked dangerous on the counter.
Arsenal was a trifle unlucky when a Van Persie goal was ruled offside. On closer inspection it should have stood. But the striker was guilty of a bigger crime when he spurned an opportunity to service Walcott wide open in front of an empty goal and took it upon him to try score from an adverse angle. His shot had neither power nor placement and Gomes had no problems collecting. Fabregas also had two great looks at goal.
Wenger again made headscratching changes removing Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott, the two players most likely to score for Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin in the 80th minute. If Arshavin is to be effective he needs larger cameos. And it needs to be pointed out Wenger made just two purchases before the season. One has been injured since September, the other has faded away and was not even on the bench. So much for his cherry picking.
Birmingham were no match for Chelsea who now occupy second position on goal difference and could pull off a shocker. Man Utd have the two CL fixtures against Schalke potentially complicating their Premiership progress which involve meeting Chelsea and Arsenal.