Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham: 5 Takeaways from Gunners' Derby Win over Spurs
A second consecutive North London derby finished 5-2 to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
This time, after opening the scoring, Emmanuel Adebayor—who else—was the villain as he got himself sent off after only 18 minutes for a high and reckless challenge over Santi Cazorla.
That set the stage for an ultimately aesthetically pleasing five-goal haul for the Gunners over their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Per Mertesacker scored his first goal for Arsenal, while Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott all chipped in, with a Gareth Bale strike in between.
Here are five things to take away from Arsene Wenger’s men from their win on Saturday.
Per Mertesacker’s Goal Shouldn’t Cover Up His Flaws
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Arsenal’s opener was a picture-perfect header by Per Mertesacker following good work from Theo Walcott out on the right flank.
Not a bad game in which to score your first ever Arsenal goal.
Make no mistake: It was a quite sumptuous headed finish that gave Hugo Lloris no chance in the Tottenham goal, but it didn’t look so good for the big German just 14 minutes earlier.
A simple ball over the top put Jermain Defoe onside, and embarrassingly so for Mertesacker as he was caught out by a textbook drop-back move before ghosting past the defenders.
Mertesacker has been positionally flawless for most parts of the season, but this was a case in which his lack of pace was cruelly exposed.
What Happened to the Strong Early-Season Defence?
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That was the last of a three-game clean-sheet run.
For all of the plaudits that Steve Bould has received for his work on the Arsenal defence, it seems that it hasn’t been working too well for, well, most parts of the season.
A large part of this can be attributed to the loss of Kieran Gibbs, but having tried both Andre Santos and Thomas Vermaelen as left-back, Arsene Wenger is no closer to a clean-sheet solution.
And the ease with which Tottenham carved open the Arsenal defence for both of their goals, while ultimately not fatal, will have been cause for concern for Arsenal fans.
Arise, King Santi
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Now onto the positives.
And what a positive Santi Cazorla was on Saturday.
Actually, scratch that—what a positive Santi Cazorla has been for Arsenal’s season, and what a signing he has been.
His first touch is magical, his work rate exemplary, his vision outstanding, his dribbling first class—and his finishing isn’t half bad either.
His four goals and three assists in the Premier League put him as joint top and second within the squad, respectively, but he has already been a revelation—and perhaps an early Player of the Year contender already.
Theo Walcott Is Most Definitely Worth Keeping
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Alongside Cazorla in the midfield, Theo Walcott was another pure positive as he ran Tottenham left-back Kyle Naughton ragged down the Arsenal right.
For all of the noise that Walcott has been making about wanting to play as an out-and-out striker, he has continued to play his right-wing role to exemplary fashion, and his assist for Per Mertesacker’s opener was glorious in itself.
With just a few minutes left on the clock, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was sent on in place of Olivier Giroud, leaving Walcott with extremely limited time to make the most out of the position he relishes so much.
And what did he do?
He only scored Arsenal’s fifth goal with a well-taken finish.
The Big Three Finally Deliver Together
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Speaking of the Arsenal attack, Saturday was the first time Arsene Wenger’s big-money attacking trio all scored in the same game.
Again—not a bad game for a first time.
Wasn’t it just a few games ago that Olivier Giroud was still being criticized for not fitting into the Arsenal team? Or that Lukas Podolski was running out of steam?
Having discussed earlier this summer the possibility that Arsenal’s new Big Three would be well-equipped to deal with a Robin van Persie departure, let’s look at how the numbers compare.
Van Persie notched 30 goals and nine assists in 37 Premier League appearances last season.
Having played just under a third of that (12 league games), Santi Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski have combined for 12 goals and seven assists.
Which, of course, would translate into roughly 36 goals and 21 assists over the course of the 2012-13 season.
Whether or not this projection is able to lift the Gunners above their third-placed finish last season, we can’t tell yet, but what we can say now is that Wenger has other areas to worry about for the time being.
Also check out: Why Wenger Should Try Theo Walcott as a Striker