Rather than capitalizing on an opportunity to rise to the top of the Premier League Table, Arsenal sputtered with a 3-2 loss against London rivals Tottenham after failing to hold a 2-0 lead at half time. Although match play was controlled by Arsenal, Tottenham managed to be productive with their at times limited offensive chances.
Arsenal took an early lead after Tottenham’s goalie, Gomes, committed a costly blunder that allowed Samir Nasri a second chance after an initial poor first touch. Nasri’s goal created a panic type style of play for the visiting Spurs. Arsenal was able to control most of the possession early on. Gomes struggled again with a Marouane Chamakh flick in the 26th minute off a cross from Arshavin. Chamakh’s flick managed to find the back of the net by navigating through keeper’s legs.
At the end of 45, Arsenal’s three points seemed assured considering Tottenham’s lack of success at Arsenal in recent times. Yet the second half proved to be a reminder that a 2-0 lead at half time is a very dangerous situation in this internationally loved game. Arsenal began the second half a little too lax. Weak defensively off transitions, Arsenal allowed life back into the Spurs early in the second half. A long ball challenged the Gunner’s defensive line as Van der Vaart found Gareth Bale who successfully pushed the ball passed Polish goalie, Fabianski. The bright pink goalie kit proved to be unlucky on this occasion for Fabianski.
With new found determination, Tottenham’s tempo created dynamic play from both squads. Scoring opportunities were even. The 64th minute provided an interesting change of events. A foul committed by Arsenal’s Song set up a dangerous free kick for the Spurs. Arsenal’s captain, Cesc Fabregas tried to extend Arsenal’s wall by raising his arms to deflect Van der Vaart’s free kick. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the wall was set up inside of the box and a penalty was awarded to Tottenham. Van der Vaart easily buried the penalty leveling the Spurs.
Arsenal had opportunities, including a goal that was disallowed due to off sides. However, poor defensive play allowed Tottenham chances to fight their way back. Younes Kaboul scored in the 85th minute to secure a win for the Spurs.
Arsenal will certainly be disappointed with the defeat. Chelsea’s surprising second straight loss will add to Arsenal’s pain. If Arsenal would have beat Tottenham, they would have been at the top of the Premier League. Manchester United was the big winner in the Premier League this weekend. Manchester United easily beat Wigan 2-0. With 28 points, they now share the top of the table with Chelsea. Arsenal is in third place with 26 points.