Adebayor Red Card Fatal for Spurs as Arsenal Run Rampant in Derby

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalNovember 17, 2012

Tottenham's Emmanuel Adebayor scored and was sent off against his former club Arsenal—his clinical first act suggesting a Spurs' coup at the Emirates, his maddening second condemning the visitors to an emphatic 5-2 defeat.

Adebayor's opener was answered by Arsenal goals from Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla after the striker got his marching orders. Gareth Bale bought some respectability to the scoreline, but Theo Walcott reasserted the three-goal difference in added time.

For 19 minutes, everything went to plan for Spurs. Andre Villas-Boas bowed to the populist vote and played two up front, dropping Clint Dempsey after his ineffective turn against Manchester City and pairing Adebayor with Jermain Defoe.

It didn't take long before his decision was vindicated—with Jan Vertonghen's ball releasing Defoe clean on goal and Adebayor mopping up after his partner's shot was only parried by Wojciech Szczesny.

Quite what Mertesacker was doing to allow Defoe a free run behind him is unclear, but credit goes to the striker for his sharpness of thought and even sharper turn of speed.

Aaron Lennon had a chance to double Spurs' lead soon after, and for a brief period, Arsenal looked to be channeling their most frustrating worst.

But Adebayor was about to do his former club a huge favor. The striker inexplicably lunged at Cazorla with both feet in the air and in clear view of referee Howard Webb, earning himself the cheapest of red cards midway through the first half.

Adebayor's sending off changed the game beyond recognition.

Within five minutes, Arsenal drew level when Mertsesacker gained his redemption with a powerful header past Hugo Lloris—the Frenchman picked to start ahead of Brad Friedel in the Spurs goal.

Theo Walcott was the provider with a sumptuous cross from Arsenal's right, but fingers will rightly be pointed at a Spurs defense which offered Mertesacker the freedom of North London to score his first goal for the Gunners.

They were culpable again when Giroud's header was well saved by Lloris, but the Spurs keeper could do nothing to stop Podolski's deflected shot trickling into the corner to put Arsenal ahead.

The dominant hosts claimed a third before halftime when fine work from Cazorla set up Giroud to finish with aplomb. Arsenal were swarming all over Spurs by this point, and visiting fans must have feared a humiliation.

Villas-Boas moved to stem the time at the break, bringing on Dempsey and Michael Dawson and switching to a back three with Bale and Lennon asked to perform wing-back duties.

The early signs were more positive, with Spurs taking hold of possession and asserting far greater control on the game. Bale was clearly in the mood to play hero, and pride was there for the taking for the visitors.

But the one-man advantage had already factored in, and when Cazorla scored from Podolski's cross just shy of the hour mark, the game—if it wasn't already—was over as contest.

There was still time for Bale's determination to bring Spurs some encouragement—the Welshman firing home with his right foot—but the fight was long lost by that time. It was lost in Adebayor's moment of madness.

To conclude Arsenal's rampant retribution for Adebayor's wild tackle, Walcott shot home in added time to make it 5-2 and match the scoreline by which the Gunners won this respective fixture last season.

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, so often accused of not seizing their moment, had put their neighbors to the sword with a hunger that will have their fans in a delirious mood until they meet again. The fact that new signings Giroud, Cazorla and Podolski all scored only magnifies the satisfaction.

Villas-Boas, meanwhile, has some difficult days ahead. He can't be blamed for Adebayor's recklessness, but anytime a manager loses a derby heavily, he'll be called to answer.