News24

Arsenal rout rivals Spurs

2012-02-26 17:44

London -Theo Walcott struck twice as Arsenal staged a remarkable comeback to beat north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 and reclaim a place in the top four while delivering a huge blow to their near neighbours' fast fading title hopes.

Trailing to an early Louis Saha goal and an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty, Arsenal appeared to be heading for a third successive defeat.

But the home side responded superbly, drawing back level thanks to goals from Bacary Sagna and Robin Van Persie immediately before the break before Tomas Rosicky and Walcott secured victory in the second half.

The victory provided a welcome boost to Arsenal and their under-fire manager Arsene Wenger following the FA Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland and the humiliating 4-0 Champions League defeat to AC Milan.

Three points allowed them to leapfrog Chelsea and close the gap on third-placed Spurs to seven points who missed out on the chance to reduce the ten-point deficit on Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The stakes were undeniably high for Wenger's side whose last realistic chance of success this season lies in holding onto a top four spot and claiming a place in next season's Champions League.

Yet even that was insufficient to inspire a convincing defensive display and Arsenal's porous backline was exposed after just four minutes when Adebayor and Saha combined to give Tottenham the lead.

Adebayor - who scored eight goals in nine appearances in this fixture when he was an Arsenal player - spotted his team-mate running into the yawning gap in the heart of the Gunners defence and Saha sent a deflected shot past Wojciech Szczesny.

That set the tone for the opening 20 minutes with Wenger's side appearing utterly disorganised while Spurs were clearly brimming with confidence.

Slowly though, the home side began to get a foothold in the game with van Persie sending a right foot shot narrowly wide before Rosicky forced a fine save from Brad Friedel with a near post header.

Despite those efforts, the momentum remained with the visitors who should have added a second when Kyle Walker fired into the side netting after Saha and Adebayor had again combined effectively.

However, that miss merely delayed the inevitable and Spurs eventually doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when Gareth Bale won a controversial penalty.

AFP