Arsenal capitulated and gave
up a two goal lead to let a resurgent Spurs grab a point in a 4-4 draw
away last night. Harry Redknapp's planning and tactics could not
have accounted for Tottenham being 1-0 up for a long period of the first
half and then slipping to 1-3 before coming back for a last gap Aaron
Lennon equaliser that sent the Tottenham fans into ecstasy.
Spurs still persisted with
the one man up front, but had Luka Modric in support, playing just in
front of a midfield four. With the men breaking forward from
midfield, Arsenal were troubled early on. In the third minute,
Huddlestone picked out a run on the left by Gareth Bale and his surge
almost paid off, as he crossed or shot and with Almunia coming off the
near post, his effort just missed the outside of the post and went into
the side-netting. Arsenal's first chance came in the 12th minute,
with Walcott having a low shot across Gomes, but it went wide of the far
post, but a minute later, Tottenham were 1-0 ahead.
The ball was bouncing around
ten yards outside the home team's penalty area and then popped up in the
air as the ball was challenged for. Jermaine Jenas out-jumped the
static Denilson and headed it back, where David Bentley flipped the ball
up and hit a home-made volley that went high as Almunia was out of his
goal. As the keeper went backwards and the ball came down, all he
could do was wave at the ball as it dropped beyond him and help it into
the net. Scoring from nearly 40 yards out with an outrageous
volley was too much for Bentley, who went off to celebrate like a mad
thing. The boos from the home crowd had no doubt fuelled his
desire to do well and what a way to start, by putting Spurs into a 13th
Arsenal hit back straight
away and Gomes had to palm aside a van Persie free-kick, which was one
of a long line of awards, which were harsh to say the least. The
same player curled a shot wide just afterwards and then had an effort
blocked for a corner. The Tottenham goalkeeper was still causing
heart-attacks when the ball went into the box in the air, with a leap
over Adebayor leading to him dropping the ball at Gallas' feet and the
Gooners captain hit it over the top luckily. Heurelho had a bit
more fortune in the 32nd minute when Walcott cut inside and hit his shot
straight at the goalie. The England winger then dallied on the
ball, allowing Assou-Ekotto to get in front of him to get in the way of
his shot and then Clichy hit a shot over the bar.
What appeared to be a foul
on David Bentley was waved away by referee Atkinson and it lead to Gomes
making a save from Fabregas' shot which went for a corner. From
this, Silvestre got ahead of the Spurs defenders and more importantly,
Gomes, flicking the ball over him and with no man on the line at the far
post, the ball flew in for 1-1. It was a cheap goal to concede.
Luka Modric was getting
crowded out a little in his role in the hole, but found some space, with
Pavlyuchenko moving away from him and not other support, he had to shoot
and shanked his shot. Both sides then seemed to settle for going
into the break level.
Straight after the break, it
was Arsenal who won a cheap free-kick when Huddlestone was adjudged to
have fouled van Persie and he got up to play the ball in with pace and
Gallas got ahead of his marker Corluka, to head down and past Gomes.
With the Brazilian keeper rooted to his line this time, he perhaps
should have done better, but did manage to push Denilson's low drive
from the left side of the box wide straight after Tottenham had gone
behind. It went for a corner and Silvestre got there first again,
but headed wide.
The yellow cards started
with Assou-Ekotto getting one for knocking Walcott over and then Bentley
and Huddlestone followed him within five minutes. Lennon came on
for Bale, who was having a quiet game on the left of midfield and Gomes
had to dive at Walcott's feet to stop him progressing. However,
just before the hour, he was left standing as Adebayor cracked a shot
instinctively as it fell after a scramble and Gomes was relieved to see
it go the right side of the post as far as he was concerned.
After Huddlestone and Modric
challenged for the ball on the edge of the Arsenal box, it dropped for
Bentley to hit a shot at goal and Almunia saved low. Then in the
64th minute, it became 3-1 when van Persie picked out a pass inside
Hutton for Nasri to lift the ball over Gomes as he came out and Hutton
got back, but could not clear it before Adebayor stuck out a long leg to
put it into the net from virtually on the line. Harry brought on
Bent for Roman and a minute after, he had poached a goal from a ball
which was spilled as Almunia saved Huddlestone's low skidding shot with
his face !! It was a real striker's goal and one we could do with
But as soon as the cheers
had died in the Spurs fans throats, it was 2-4. Hutton, who was
having a bit of a mare in the second half, played a back-pass to Corluka
without looking to see where he was and it fell to Adebayor. The
striker laid the ball across the area into the path of van Persie and he
drilled it first time past Gomes. All the good work had been
With Bentley's free-kick
whipped into the near post, it almost brought about a goal for Jenas,
but he could not quite get onto the end of it. It took nearly ten
minutes before there was another chance for Spurs as Bentley pulled his
foot across a shot that bobbled wide, by which time van Persie and
Adebayor should really have put the game out of reach.
The pitch was freezing up
and Clichy fell victim to a slip that left Jermaine Jenas with the ball
on the halfway line. He picked it up and ran at the retreating
Arsenal defence and as he reached the edge of the "D", he curled a left
footer round the last defender which unsighted the keeper and the ball
nestled in the inside netting to make the score 3-4.
As Wenger was resting
Walcott and Nasri by taking them off, it had given Tottenham the impetus
to go forward, without the need to worry about a speedy break. But
the game was going into four minutes of added time and it looked like it
would be a heroic failure.
Especially when a free-kick
from Bentley was whipped in and Gallas got there before Jenas.
But with time running out,
Luka Modric popped up on the edge of the area and produced a shot that
flicked off a defender that took it onto Almunia's right hand post.
It looked like it wasn't going to be Spurs' night. But then Aaron
Lennon dashed in without an Arsenal defender following up, leaving the
little winger with the easy task of knocking the ball gleefully into the
net from within the six yard box.
It capped a fine comeback.
The spirit of the side, who looked down and out at 1-3 and 2-4, took
them through to a point, which didn't affect Tottenham's league place,
but did Arsenal's and did the confidence of the away team, who had been
suffering with the wave after wave of jokes sent by text and e-mail by
Gooners. It looked like the "Professor" had blown his experiment
by letting Tottenham take control of the game and it might have been a
mistake by Clichy that let them in, but then Hutton's had done so for
the home team.
It was a point gained and
while people said it felt like a win, it wasn't. Those will come
hopefully, if the side continue to play in the same vein. It was
pleasing to see them score goals again - the first time they had scored
more than two this season and with only three of 28 goals scored at the
Arsenal ground by the opponents, it was a moral victory to knock in
It is the way to play as far
as Spurs are concerned. Modric's role has seen him more involved
and Corluka played well at the back, with Jenas everywhere, even though
he did give the ball away a bit too much. But he always wants the
ball and is always willing to keep running.
Redknapp is getting the team
to produce something approaching their best, but there is still more to