London - Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud gave Tottenham a worrying glimpse of
life without Gareth Bale as his first half strike clinched a 1-0 win in
the North London derby on Sunday.
Giroud netted his fourth goal of
the season midway through the opening period at the Emirates Stadium to
maintain Arsenal's revival since their dismal opening day defeat at
home to Aston Villa.
That loss had triggered a barrage of abuse
from fans frustrated by the club's eight-year trophy drought and boss
Arsene Wenger's failure to make any marquee signings since the end of
But four successive victories, including two over
Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifying round, have at least
temporarily silenced Wenger's critics.
Even the more vociferous of
the anti-Wenger faction could have few complaints as Arsenal took the
north London bragging rights with a dominant display that left their
bitter rivals nursing concerns that Bale's imminent departure may be a
fatal blow to their hopes of a top-four finish.
With Bale's world
record move to Real Madrid set to be concluded before Monday evening's
transfer deadline, Spurs have embarked on a frenzied spending spree.
has splashed out over £100 million on seven players and four of those
new arrivals, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Nacer
Chadli, were in the starting line-up at the Emirates.
But, with little time to gel, Tottenham lacked cohesion and unity in their first serious test of the post-Bale era.
were under duress from the start and Santi Cazorla's free-kick brought a
fine save from Hugh Lloris with just two minutes gone.
Gunners were playing with an intuitive understanding their rivals badly
missed and they took the lead in the 23rd minute with the kind of
immaculately constructed goal that makes Wenger's teams such a joy to
watch when they hit top gear.
An Aaron Ramsey pass located Tomas
Rosicky in space on the right of midfield and the Czech veteran quickly
shifted possession onto Walcott, who surged into the penalty area and
whipped over a low cross that French striker Giroud, fatally granted too
much space by Michael Dawson, met with a superb flicked finish past
Lloris from close-range.
There was no let-up from Arsenal and
Ramsey showed tremendous determination to fight his way past Mousa
Dembele before slipping a pass into Walcott, whose shot was pushed away
Lloris was then forced to race out of his area to make a
last-ditch tackle on Walcott as the England winger surged clear of
Tottenham's alarmingly flat-footed defence.
Walcott crashed to the
turf, drawing inevitable Arsenal appeals for Lloris's dismissal, but
referee Michael Oliver waved play on and replays showed he got the
decision spot on.
Deprived of Bale's blistering pace and lethal finishing, this was a Tottenham side sorely lacking inspiration.
Chadli, Paulinho and Capoue were lacklustre in midfield, while Soldado was starved of service up front.
loss of England midfielder Jack Wilshere, forced off just before
half-time due to an illness, gave Mathieu Flamini the chance for his
second debut after returning to Arsenal on a free transfer and offered
Spurs hope of a second half fightback.
But it was Arsenal who remained the more potent force and Giroud went close when his shot deflected wide off Danny Rose.
sent on Argentine forward Eric Lamela for his debut following his move
from Roma in the closing stages, while Capoue was stretchered off
wearing an oxygen mask after falling awkwardly.
threatened an equaliser when Wojciech Szczesny pushed Jermain Defoe's
deflected strike out to Soldado and the Spaniard lashed in a shot that
drew rejected penalty claims for a handball by Carl Jenkinson.
was the signal for Spurs to throw bodies forward in the frantic final
minutes, but Arsenal held firm to inflict their neighbours' first defeat
of the season.
Collated English Premier League results on Sunday:
Arsenal 1 (Giroud 23) Tottenham Hotspur 0
Liverpool 1 (Sturridge 4) Manchester United 0
West Bromwich Albion 0 Swansea City 2 (Davies 22, Hernandez 83)
Cardiff City 0 Everton 0
Crystal Palace 3 (Gabbidon 9, Gayle 79-pen, O'Keefe 90) Sunderland 1 (Fletcher 64)
Manchester City 2 (Negredo 65, Toure 90) Hull City 0
Newcastle United 1 (Ben Arfa 86) Fulham 0
Norwich City 1 (Redmond 68) Southampton 0
West Ham United 0 Stoke City 1 (Pennant 82)