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Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1: match report
Published : 14 Apr 2010 21:58:26Rss feed
Arsenal won the 1971 and 2004 titles in their neighbour's backyard but their dream for the 2010 trophy died here. A late fightback inspired by the returning Robin van Persie, and bringing a goal for Nicklas Bendtner, was not enough to haul in a confident Tottenham, who had raced into a two-goal lead through Danny Rose and Gareth Bale. Arsenal were too toothless for too long. Only when Van Persie arrived midway through the second half did they really pose a threat. Before then, Spurs had shown by far the sharper cutting edge. With Luka Modric an elegant force in central midfield as Spurs intensified their chase for fourth place, the hosts scored two fine goals. Related ArticlesDebate: are Tottenham now better than Arsenal?Rose makes himself an instant heroTottenham v Arsenal: as it happenedArsenal title dream endsPremier League actionPremier League tableRose's strike was as magical as it was improbable while Bale's clever finish simply highlighted the problems in Arsenal's defence, although some of Sol Campbell's interceptions revived memories of his best days. What a game, 90 compelling minutes of football and another absorbing episode of derby drama. This fixture has lost nothing of its visceral intensity and the noise from the fans shook this famous old ground to its very foundations. Spurs' desire to retain such a special atmosphere in the magnificent new redevelopment will be one of the architect's greatest challenges. The volume rose from the moment Campbell took the field, from the moment Mark Clattenburg got these local hostilities underway with the roof being raised the moment Rose's 30-yarder raised the roof of Arsenal's net. It was as if all Spurs' semi-final frustrations were poured into Rose's volley and the collective explosion of joy from the fans. Spurs were stirred up for this; perhaps it was the sight of Campbell or the enduring anger from Sunday's Wembley defeat cheekily remembered by Arsenal fans with a raucous rendition of "Play up Pompey''. Perhaps it was the presence of Roberto Mancini, whose Manchester City side have seized control of fourth. Perhaps it was the early wake-up call when Campbell almost scored when in the opening minutes. Only Benoit Assou-Ekotto's positioning on the line rescued Spurs. Arsenal were enjoying great chunks of possession, their full-backs, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy, pushing on persistently but Spurs had the goal. And what a goal. Making his full league debut, and lasting only a half, Rose's stunning response to Manuel Almunia's weak punched clearance will linger long in the memory. This was textbook stuff, Rose echoing Bolo Zenden's recent strike with his eyes fixed on the ball as it descended towards him. Then his left foot came up to meet the ball, sending it powerfully back past Almunia, who simply confirmed why Arsenal need a new goalkeeper. Any more gems like this and they will have to rename Tottenham High Road as Broadway Danny Rose. Nobody had expected this. Redknapp had sought to use the pace of Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko to isolate Arsenal's centre-halves Campbell and Thomas Vermaelen, the Belgian who limped off midway through the half with a calf problem. Mikael Silvestre ran on, joining Campbell, who had shown his experience with some assured interceptions as the Spurs howled their hatred towards their former player. If the atmosphere remained febrile on the terraces, with the home supporters serenading Wenger in typically poisonous fashion, the temperature rose on the pitch with a sudden spate of cautions. Mark Clattenburg, commendably, had attempted to keep this raging torrent of a contest flowing with judicious use of advantage but some of the challenges required sanction. The outstanding Luka Modric, whose venom in the tackle is usually more Norman Wisdom than Norman Hunter, was cautioned for a foul on Sagna. Denilson followed the Croatian into Clattenburg's book for catching Rose. Then Younes Kaboul, a right-back vulnerable to swift Arsenal surges, brought down Tomas Rosicky. Arsenal were full of creativity but no cutting edge and the camera kept panning towards Robin van Persie on the bench. Arsenal almost broke through from Campbell's clever nod-down but Rosicky's shot was blocked by Ledley King. The half finished with Spurs almost claiming a second but Almunia managed to save from Modric after good work by Pavlyuchenko. As White Hart Lane dissolved into delight, Spurs added their second moments after the re-start. Arsenal could have been distracted by assessing the positioning of Spurs new arrival, David Bentley, who replaced Rose. In truth, it was simply the rust-laden reactions of Silvestre that cost Arsenal. The Frenchman simply did not detect the movement of Bale, who ran on to Defoe's angled pass to clip the ball past Almunia. Arsenal's title ambitions were already slim, particularly after Chelsea's victory over Bolton on Tuesday, but any hopes disappearing completely here. So Wenger made his move, withdrawing Sagna, pulling Emmanuel Eboue back into defence and unleashing Theo Walcott, who was swiftly involved. Walcott kept running at Assou-Ekotto, kept showing for the ball but Arsenal lacked an authoritative target-man. Spurs quickly realised the danger emanating from Walcott, and Tom Huddlestone intelligently kept shuttling across to assist Assou-Ekotto. Bale also kept dropping to help out. Wenger then sent on Van Persie for his first game since November and he was outstanding. Ten minutes from time, Van Persie reminded Arsenal fans what they had been missing: taking the ball on his chest, he whipped in a volley that Gomes saved well. The Brazilian keeper then made another magnificent save, clawing away Van Persie's powerful free-kick. Still Gomes impressed, somehow pushing Campbell's header on to the bar. Arsenal still pressed, Van Persie helping creating their goal with a clever pass to Walcott, whose low cross from the right was turned in by Bendtner. So Spurs revived their dream of fourth while killing off Arsenal's title ambition.