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Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal: 5 Lessons from Spurs' Win in the North London Derby

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2013

Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal: 5 Lessons from Spurs' Win in the North London Derby

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    In the latest installment of the North London Derby, Tottenham picked up a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at White Hart Lane.

    Both Spurs goals were made from Gunners mistakes, as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon were allowed to waltz past their markers and slot past a helpless Wojciech Szczesny in the first half.

    Early in the second half, Per Mertesacker's header was deflected into the Tottenham net by Bale. However, Arsenal were never able to complete the comeback.

    The result pushes Spurs' advantage over fifth-placed Arsenal in the table to seven points, while Chelsea sits between the two clubs in fourth.

    It marked the fourth win for Tottenham in the past seven league derbies, one of the club's best stretches in recent memory.

    So what can one take away from the big derby win?

    Here are five lessons from Sunday's famous Spurs victory.

Bale Is a True Superstar

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    When Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said before the match that he would have no special plans to stop Gareth Bale, it was understandable to be skeptical.

    After all, the Welshman is one of the most in-form players in the world right now, let alone the Premier League, and cannot seem to stop scoring  goals.

    However, whether it was just coincidence or Wenger's calculations being correct, Bale was much less effective against Arsenal Sunday than he had been over the previous few months.

    Despite being a largely peripheral figure through most of the match, though, Bale was still able to contribute greatly to Spurs' cause, scoring the opener and getting in perfect position for a second.

    It's matches like these that define a superstar: Even though he's experiencing an average performance, he has that little piece of quality that makes an impact on the match.

    Bale did just that on Sunday.

Central Defense Has Potential to Be Great

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    Tottenham's pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson in the center of defense had an incredible match against Arsenal Sunday.

    The two seemed incapable of doing wrong in the North London derby. On multiple occasions, the Englishman put his body on the line and made key blocks in the box. The Belgian, in the meantime, was arguably the man of the match, providing a solid base, fine through balls and good defensive work.

    With Dawson's great return to form and Vertonghen continuing his great start at Spurs, the two are forging a great partnership in the middle of Spurs defense.

    Further, as Vertonghen is just 25 years old, Dawson 29, the injured Younes Kaboul 27 and Steven Caulker 21, Tottenham's defensive core looks set for years to come.

Striker Problems

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    Tottenham's problems up front may have taken another serious blow Sunday when Emmanuel Adebayor went down with injury.

    The Togolese striker came down awkwardly and seemed to tweak his knee, falling to the ground and staying there for minutes while the play went on.

    Afterward, Ade couldn't continue and was replaced by Jermain Defoe, who was making his return from injury.

    With just two experienced strikers, Tottenham can ill afford for one of them to miss a considerable amount of their run-in, especially with the other out of form due to a month on the sidelines.

    Adebayor's injury status is one to follow over the next few days.

    On the other hand, his poor performance on the pitch Sunday could make the potential of Adebayor missing matches slightly less of a concern.

Spurs Continue to Search for Perfect Lineup

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    There is no doubt that Tottenham are stacked in the midfield. Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Moussa Dembele, Sandro, Scott Parker, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey and new signing Lewis Holtby are all great options in the middle of the park and would be starting at most other Premier League clubs.

    However, this causes a dilemma for Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, who must decide who to play and where.

    In Sunday's match with Arsenal, AVB opted for Gareth Bale in the center of the park behind the striker instead of his usual role on the left.

    With the center pair of Dembele and Parker playing regularly at the moment and Clint Dempsey out with injury, though, that left the question as to who would play on the left flank in Bale's stead.

    That went to Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Icelander who is regularly playing through the middle.

    While Sigurdsson put in a decent performance, coming inches away from feeding Bale for a sure goal and breaking free of his markers and straight in on goal (albeit before making a ridiculous decision to pass instead of shoot), one wonders if Spurs were getting all they could from the player.

    It's obviously a work in progress for Tottenham as they try to figure out the best way to get the most from their young players, but AVB is doing a masterful job at experimenting while avoiding any growing pains or meltdowns.

Top Four Not Yet Wrapped Up

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    With 10 matches remaining in the Premier League season, Tottenham have carved out a great position to achieve their season's goal of a top-four finish and a Champions League berth.

    A seven-point lead over Arsenal for those Champions League spots is fantastic, while a two-point advantage over Chelsea for third affords them some insurance.

    However, 10 matches means there is still a lot of football left to be played.

    With tougher matches than their rivals left on their plate and a few problems still lurking at the front of their ranks, it would be ill-advised for Spurs supporters to start booking their Champions League tickets just yet.

    After all, it looked all but assured a year ago, too.

     

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