Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Match Review

Arsenal suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Tottenham as the Spurs broke a 9 year winless streak against their bitter enemies in an emphatic fashion. The deserved 5-1 win was the first time in 21 matches that the Gunners lost to their North London rivals, and was enough to propel Juande Ramos' rejuvenated side into the finals of the Carling Cup where they will face the winner of tomorrow's match between Chelsea and Everton.

Jermaine Jenas opened the scoring in the third minute and an own goal from Nicklas Bendtner cemented a two goal lead for Tottenham in the 27th. Spurs came out strong in the second half, with Robbie Keane scoring in the 48th minute and Aaron Lennon putting away a fourth in the 60th. Emmanuel Adebayor pulled back a consolation goal in the 70th minute, but a stoppage time strike from Steed Malbranque capped a formidable Tottenham performance.

Tottenham: Radek Cerny; Lee Young-Pyo, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Pascal Chimbonda; Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Jenas, Steed Malbranque, Teemu Tainio; Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov

Arsenal: Lukasz Fabianksi; Bacary Sagna, William Gallas, Justin Hoyte, Armand Traore; Alex Hleb, Neves Denilson, Gilberto Silva, Abou Diaby; Theo Walcott, Nicklas Bendtner

Injuries to some of Arsenal's younger stars meant that the experienced William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, and Alex Hleb all featured in a cup competition which usually sports Arsene Wenger's reserves and fringe players. However, the injection of experience did nothing to stop Jermaine Jenas from powering in a shot from just outside the box after just three minutes.

Dimitar Berbatov flicked the ball into the path of Jenas who side-stepped past Justin Hoyte and found himself with enough time to take a well placed shot which went in off of Fabianski's post. The Tottenham man should have been closed down much sooner, but no credit should be taken away from the perfectly placed finish.

Nicklas Bendtner took a shot over the bar after some good work around the Tottenham box, but he found the back of his own net fifteen minutes later. A free-kick from Jermaine Jenas saw the tall Dane under pressure from Michael Dawson, and the unfortunate youngster beat his own goalie from a few yards out to double Tottenham's lead in the 27th minute.

Berbatov should have made it three for the home side only a few minutes later. A busy Jenas put the Bulgarian striker clean through on Fabianski's goal, but he could only hit the post.

Bacary Sagna nearly scored his first goal in an Arsenal shirt soon after, but his goal-bound header was brilliantly saved by the quick reflexes of Radek Cerny, keeping Tottenham up 2-0 at half-time.

The scoreline wouldn't stand for long though, as Robbie Keane nabbed a third just after the restart. An excellent pass from Aaron Lennon put the Republic of Ireland international in front of Fabianksi who could do nothing to stop Keane's half-volley from reaching the back of the net.

Arsenal could have pulled one back straight away, but an acrobatic effort from Bendtner hit the post and Fabregas, on for the injured Denilson, hit his follow-up directly to Cerny.

Steed Malbranque could have made it 4-0 to Tottenham, but he could not beat Fabianski in a one-on-one. The young Arsenal keeper got a hand to Malbranque's shot and quickly recovered the loose ball.

The Polish keeper could not hold Tottenham at bay on their next attempt though, as Lennon slotted home through Fabianski's legs after receiving a pass from Keane.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo came on for Arsenal as Keane and Berbatov came off for Tottenham, and the substitutions had an immediate impact. Adebayor scored his 16th goal of the season with 20 minutes left, giving the Gunners some hope of an unlikely comeback.

Nothing transpired in the next few minutes though, and the Tottenham got the last laugh after Malbranque put the icing on the cake by scoring a fifth in stoppage time.