Arsenal thrash ten-man Spurs in seven-goal thriller
Defeats for Manchester United and Chelsea send Manchester City to the Premier League pinnacle
Arsenal thrashed Tottenham 5-2 in the north London derby in a game packed full of drama. Tottenham took an early lead through Emmanuel Adebayor but the Togo striker turned from hero to villain in the space of a few minutes as he was sent off for a shocking tackle on Santi Cazorla. That left the Lilywhites a man down with 70 minutes to play, and Arsenal were ruthless in exploiting their advantage.
Per Mertesacker levelled for the hosts on 24 minutes when he headed home Theo Walcott’s inch-perfect cross. Lukas Podolski made it 2-1 on 42 minutes and on the stroke of half-time Olivier Giroud (above, with Walcott) grabbed a third for the Gunners.
The carnage continued in the second-half with Cazorla scoring a fourth, and though Gareth Bale pulled one back for Spurs on 70 minutes, the final word went to Walcott as he made it 5-2.
Afterwards, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted Adebayor deserved what he got but nonetheless refused to lay the blame for the defeat at his feet. “The sending off, these things happen in football. I think the referee made the right decision,” he told reporters. “Players go to dispute the ball not with the intention to do any harm but sometimes situations like this happen."
The defeat - Tottenham’s fourth in their last five Premier League outings - leaves them in eighth spot on 17 points, two shy of Arsenal who move up to sixth.
“We came back into the game and got what we wanted, which was to win the game,” declared Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who said he hoped the result would be the shot in the arm his side needs.
“There were some outstanding individual offensive performances. In the second half you could see that the confidence was not completely still there, I hope that this result will help us.”
Meanwhile Manchester City helped themselves to five goals at home to Aston Villa to move to the top of the table as Manchester United slipped up against Norwich. Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez both scored for the Sky Blues after David Silva had opened their account on 43 minutes.
Villa had no answer to the second-half onslaught as they slipped into the relegation zone while City sit at the top of the table for the first time this season. “We played well and created a lot of chances,” said manager Roberto Mancini later. “We can do better, but I hope we are starting to find the form of last season – we started to change things a few games ago and it seems to be paying off.”
City can’t have expected to remain at the top for long but Manchester United’s shock defeat in the evening kick-off means the Sky Blues lead their neighbours by a point. Anthony Pilkington scored the only goal of the game at Carrow Road against a United side short on ideas. “You've got to give credit to the way Norwich defended, they defended for their lives tonight,” reflected United manager Alex Ferguson. “We had a lot of pressure but didn't get the goal we needed.”
Elsewhere and Chelsea’s recent slump in form continued as they were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion, the Blues’ fourth consecutive game without a win. The Baggies took the lead when Shane Long headed home only for Eden Hazard to level five minutes before the break. But West Brom regained the lead shortly into the second-half when Peter Odemwingie headed in Long's cross. The defeat means Chelsea slip down into third spot, one place and one point above WBA.
In other results, Luiz Suarez’s rich vein of recent form continued as he scored twice in Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat of Wigan, a win that lifts the Reds to 11th. Newcastle were beaten 2-1 at home by Swansea while there was also an impressive victory on the road for Southampton, who defeated QPR 3-1 at Loftus Road. The result leaves Rangers without a win this season but manager Mark Hughes remained defiant at the post-match conference, saying: “The club needs stability. Maybe this is a watershed moment as we can't get much lower. It's my intention to see it through.”
Finally, Reading beat Everton 2-1, a victory that moves the Royals out of the relegation zone.