Premier League - Tottenham comeback stuns Arsenal
Sat, 20 Nov 14:42:00 2010
Tottenham Hotspur pulled off an incredible comeback to win 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium and claim their first Premier League victory at Arsenal since 1993.
Arsenal led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh, but Spurs levelled it up through a fine Gareth Bale finish and a Rafael van der Vaart penalty.
Younes Kaboul scored a late glancing header to complete an astonishing turnaround and silence the Emirates.
Tottenham came into the game without an away win against the 'Big Four' in a staggering 68 attempts. And it looked like that run would continue as the Gunners eased into a commanding position.
There was a suitably combative start. After Nasri refused to shake his former colleague William Gallas's hand in the pre-match formalities, the Arsenal man was released in the first minute, only to be dispossessed by a muscular Gallas challenge.
The pair apparently did not speak during Gallas's final season at the club, when he was relieved of the club captaincy, and the defender inadvertently caught his rival in the face with a flailing arm in the act of winning the ball.
But Tottenham's optimism soon turned into a familiar sinking feeling as Arsenal seized control of the game and the visitors went behind to an eminently avoidable goal.
Heurelho Gomes had already flapped at once cross when Cesc Fabregas sent Nasri through the middle with a fine, raking pass.
Nasri's first touch was heavy and Gomes appeared to have the situation under control as he slid out to claim the ball - but his challenge was limp, the ball squirted free and Nasri finished from an outrageous angle, rolling the ball in deftly from the left.
Arsenal grew in confidence, and exploited a Tottenham side missing a designated defensive midfielder with some slick passing.
One particularly excellent move was started and finished by Fabregas, as Arsenal worked the ball from left to right and back again, before the Arsenal skipper dragged his shot wide.
It was two on 27 minutes as the home side launched a magnificent counter-attack that culminated in Andrei Arshavin crossing low from the left and Chamakh touching the ball neatly past Gomes from eight yards.
Tottenham eventually grabbed a foothold in the game, even though Bale found his space restricted and Van der Vaart cut a frustrated, unhappy figure.
Jermain Defoe, returning from an ankle injury, replaced Aaron Lennon at half-time and Spurs attacked with a narrower formation as Van der Vaart cut inside from the right.
Within five minutes the move paid off as Defoe surprisingly won a header in midfield. It fell for Van der Vaart, who chested down and played in Bale, who steered a delightful finish past Fabianski into the left corner.
Arsenal continued to dominate possession, but they failed to test Gomes, and were made to pay following an inexplicable act of stupidity from Fabregas on 67 minutes.
Van der Vaart hit a free-kick towards the wall, and the Arsenal captain raised his arm to stop the ball. A blatant and unnecessary handball, and a penalty.
The Dutchman stepped up and sent the ball into the left corner as Fabianski dived the other way.
Arsene Wenger responded by replacing Chamakh with Robin van Persie, and his team soon had the ball in the net through Sebastien Squillaci, though it was rightly chalked off for offside.
Fabregas volleyed over from the edge of the box, and finally worked Gomes with a curling 20-yarder that looked destined for the right corner before the keeper tipped it athletically behind.
Laurent Koscielny was then guilty of a terrible miss, sending a free header over from six yards after a Van Persie cross.
And Kaboul made the Gunners pay, with Van der Vaart again the creator. His curling free-kick from the right was glanced on by the Frenchman, and it nestled in the left corner of the net past Fabianski's desperate dive.