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Emmanuel Adebayor’s dismissal sparked a spectacular comeback as Arsenal recovered from a goal down to win 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium. The Togo striker scored against his former employers to give Tottenham Hotspur a 10th-minute lead, but seven minutes later was given a straight red for a sliding tackle on Santi Cazorla.
Andre Villas-Boas's charges struggled to cope with the numerical disadvantage and it only took a few minutes for Per Mertesacker to equalise. Lukas Podolski’s strike, and Olivier Giroud’s fifth goal in his last five games gave the Gunners a comfortable two-goal cushion by half-time.
Tottenham fared slightly better in the second half, but their only reward came through a Gareth Bale consolation after Cazorla had extended the hosts’ advantage. Theo Walcott grabbed another goal in injury to make the score the same as the 5-2 win last season. Arsenal’s victory means they leapfrog Tottenham in the table, while Spurs have now suffered four successive defeats under Villas-Boas.
William Gallas thought he had given Spurs an early lead against his former team when he intercepted Tom Huddlestone’s effort and curled a shot past Wojciech Szczesny, but the Frenchman was offside. One minute later Spurs had the lead, however, after Szczesny palmed Jermain Defoe’s shot in to Adebayor’s path for a tap-in. Seven minutes later, however, Adebayor was heading for the dressing room after his lunge on Cazorla.
The equaliser arrived midway through the first half when Walcott latched on to Wilshere’s ball and crossed for Mertesacker to head past Hugo Lloris. The France goalkeeper saved twice in succession from Giroud, but he could do nothing about Podolski’s scuffed shot that bobbled past him on 42 minutes.
Arsenal netted their third in first-half injury time, after Howard Webb played advantage following Kyle Naughton’s foul on Cazorla; the Spaniard carried on to square the ball to Giroud, who dispatched a close-range finish.
Villas-Boas brought on Michael Dawson and Clint Dempsey and moved to 3-5-1, but the move made little impact as Arsenal remained in control. Lloris kept the hosts out for 14 minutes before Arsenal hit on the break through Walcott and Podolski, who found Cazorla at the back post and he made no mistake from five yards.
Bale restored a bit of pride for the away side with 20 minutes to go when he outpaced Mertesacker and drove past Szczesny. Defoe attempted a 10-yard volley while unmarked at the back post but he missed the ball, while Thomas Vermaelen shot just wide before Arsenal finished off the rout in injury time as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took advantage of a Jan Vertonghen mistake to play in Walcott.
Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger: “Tottenham had a good start, we were a bit nervous and scored one goal when we made an adjustment mistake at the back, and a chance for a second goal. It looked like last season's game, but then there was the turning point with the sending-off of Adebayor.
“We came back into the game and got what we wanted, which was to win the game. It is not always easy against 10 - we have won games with 10 men. I thought it could become even more difficult because they could have dropped back and waited for us, but we had the quality and movement to play through their lines and create chances. 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.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas: “It’s a difficult result to take. At 3-1 at half-time, with 10 men, you are in for a route, or the possibility of being shamed, but we can be proud of ourselves and the fans should be proud of the players. I’m sure they are. They have been tremendous.
"Players want to dispute the ball, there was no intention [by Adebayor] to do any harm. The sending-off determined the game, but the referee made the right decision.
“We came out in the second half playing three against three at the back and we knew if we could bring the scoreline back to a one-goal difference, the match doesn’t finish this way. That’s the reality. Two moments of the game were decisive – the third goal before half-time, which made our job more difficult, and our chances to go to 4-3 with Bale and then Defoe. Certainly, if one of those chances went in...
“Obviously, football is driven by results. We are disappointed by what has happened, and our position in the league at the moment, but our belief is strong.”
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