Match Report: Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Redknapp brought his bottom of the league Spurs side to the Emirates Stadium knowing a point was desperately needed – and boy, did he get his wish.
Brazilian midfielder Denilson, fullback Bacary Sagna and striker Emmanuel Adebayor were welcomed back into the Arsenal XI by Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal Starting XI
Sagna – Gallas – Silvestre- Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Denilson- Nasri
Adebayor – van Persie
Spurs Starting XI
Hutton – Corluka – Woodgate – Assou-Ekotto
Bentley – Jenas – Huddlestone – Bale
Aside from that remark, there were plenty of points to prove for Spurs’ players, and none more so than Bentley, who found his opportunities at Arsenal limited before getting loaned out and sold in 2006.
There was also Luka Modric, who Gunners boss Arsene Wenger deemed too lightweight to succeed in England. Gareth Bale, meanwhile, still has not won a league game with Spurs since arriving 18 months ago from Southampton.
It was Bale who had the first opportunity of the match, racing onto Tom Huddlestone’s ball over the top in the third minute and finding the side-netting.
But the visitors were ahead 10 minutes later through Bentley’s moment of magic.
Arsenal failed to clear convincingly from defence, leading to Modric heading the loose ball over his head towards Jenas.
Jenas chested the ball to Bentley, who took one touch to keep the ball in the air before unleashing a 40-yard volley which swerved over Manuel Almunia.
Goal: David Bentley (13) – Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal
Van Persie then went close twice, going wide from the edge of the area each time, the first with a free-kick and the second after Theo Walcott laid the ball back.
Gallas also went close, this time after the type of fumble from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes that has become commonplace. The ball broke to Gallas but the finish cleared the crossbar.
Wenger appeared frustrated on the bench as Spurs clattered into challenges and the hosts tried to convert their possession to an equaliser.
Walcott drilled straight at Gomes and Gael Clichy fired over the crossbar in their next moves.
Gomes was then at full stretch to deny Fabregas but Arsenal were level from the corner. Van Persie swung over the set-piece and Silvestre headed home as Gomes flapped.
Goal: Mikael Silvestre (37) – Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
It took Arsenal less than a minute to take the lead after the restart following a foul by Huddlestone when he hauled back Van Persie.
Van Persie took the free-kick and Gallas climbed above Vedran Corluka at the near post to head home his fourth goal of the campaign.
Goal: William Gallas (46) – Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
Sensing Spurs’ fragility at set-pieces, Silvestre almost added another from a corner, his header flashing past the upright.
There was action in all areas of the pitch, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto booked for tripping Walcott, then Redknapp sent on Lennon for Bale to inject some pace.
Bentley also picked up a caution for a reckless tackle on Clichy, while Huddlestone went in the notebook for blocking the same player.
Adebayor flashed wide from the edge of the area, but he made no mistake when Arsenal broke in the 64th minute.
Van Persie sent Samir Nasri through to lob Gomes, with Adebayor beating Alan Hutton to the ball to force it home.
Goal: Emmanuel Adebayor (64) – Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham
Darren Bent was sent on and managed to pull a goal back after Huddlestone’s drive was not held cleanly by Almunia – it didn’t appear to be the Spaniard’s day either.
Goal: Darren Bent (67) – Arsenal 3-2 Tottenham
Just 84 seconds later, Van Persie restored the two-goal advantage in the next move. Hutton’s sloppy pass was picked up by Adebayor, who fed the impressive Van Persie to lash home.
Goal: Robin van Persie (68) – Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham
That looked like game over but Jenas found the top corner with a minute of time remaining, a crisp finish which left Almunia with no chance. It was game on, and Arsenal knew it.
Goal: Jermaine Jenas (89) – Arsenal 4-3 Tottenham
Jenas’ goal set up a frantic finale in which Arsenal needed to keep the ball for the four minutes of added stoppage time. Spurs went on a late attack, Modric smashed the post with a fearsome effort on the edge of the box, England winger Aaron Lennon capitalised by tapping the ball past Almunia.
Goal: Aaron Lennon (90 + 3) – Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham
Redknapp’s first week in charge just gets better and better. Spurs remain bottom of the Premier League but the comeback proved Cesc Fabregas wrong after he said Arsenal’s ladies team would give Redknapp’s men a run for their money.
The full time whistle was blown to a chorus of Arsenal boos, and Spurs pandemonimum. Are Arsenal’s title hopes over? Games coming up against Manchester United and Chelsea will certainly tell us that.
Gooner Talk’s Man of the Match – Robin van Persie: Outstanding performance from the tricky Dutchman. Completely tore Spurs apart with his quick footwork and clever decision making. His best game so far this season, and a well taken goal.