Football is a funny old sport. The sharks were out circling Wenger and Arsenal before this match with so many negative articles written, admittedly many here on this blog. Spurs had outwitted Arsenal according to Amy Lawrence and there was no escaping some of the salient points she made. It is a club that is ebbing away even as it waits for the financial fair play rules to lift it higher to shore. But today, today there was no evidence of a club in decline.
A two goal deficit wiped out by half time setting up a second half which saw Arsenal grab Spurs by the scruff of the neck and pour in three unanswered goals. Villains turned to heroes as Tomas Rosicky turned in a magnificent display, Theo Walcott hearing the boos descend down found his scoring touch, Thomas Vermaelen scorched in the first half by slothful defending was a force of nature in the second.
It was an all around display but here one has to point out what a relief it was to see two pressing full backs finally play a full match and make all the difference. Both Sagna and Kieran Gibbs provided movement and service and in the same token neutralize the threat posed by Bale and Kyle Walker. Sagna especially was immense. For Spurs, the dangerous Bale was able to exert his influence by diving for the Adebayor PK but did little else of note. Song and Kos took care of Adebayor who cut a frustrated figure by the end of the match.
All of Arsenal's five goals were something special. Bakary Sagna's booming header off a delightful Arteta chip. RVP collaring Benoit Assou Ekotto's clearance at the edge of the box shifting the ball to his left foot and curling his shot past Friedel in the tightest of spaces. Rosicky finishing off his move by flicking Sagna's sliding pass with his left foot over Friedel for a rare score. RVP collecting the ball and holding off Spurs just enough for an outlet to Walcott motoring down the right, controlling the ball after a heavy touch and angling his shot. Then Song's perfectly weighted pass which found Walcott breaking nanoseconds from the offside trap to finish emphatically for his brace.
Arsenal's commitment and work ethic was equally impressive and should be commended. The little things sometimes this side sometimes forgets to do. Spurs never had it easy as Arsenal swarmed them in numbers to claim the ball back. Here was Arteta getting the better of Luka Modric, there was Kos swiping the ball from Adebayor. Scott Parker, Modric, and later Rafael Van Der Vaart were played right out of the game. Parker in a characteristic rush of blood was sent off after collecting his second booking for clipping Vermaelen late on the ankle. Discounting those two breakdowns early in the first half, Arsenal were defensively disciplined till the end of the match showing rare concentration and effort.
Wenger should also be given kudos for his gamble of starting Benayoun up front with RVP spurning the easier choices of Ox and the Forehead. The Israeli was a busy body with his clever feet and the only thing missing was if he was a bit more of a unit. For once those missed chances did not come back to haunt Arsenal as RVP missed a couple of them inches out and on another occasion found the woodwork. Rosicky, Benayoun, and Walcott also came close and indication of how Spurs were clinging onto flotsam and jetsam of their shipwreck at the Emirates.
Arsenal now climb back over Chelsea in the race for fourth. Next up Liverpool at Anfield and this time we may not have RVP. But for a few days we can transport ourselves back to a more fulsome era and savour this win over our upstart neighbours.