Tomas Rosicky scored the only goal as Arsenal strengthened their Premier League title challenge with a 1-0 victory at rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon in the North London Derby.
Rosicky put Arsenal ahead in the second minute, finishing powerfully after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain led a quick counter from his own half. Spurs threatened throughout the match but were unable to find an equaliser despite creating numerous chances.
Tottenham held 59 percent of possession and outshot Arsenal 17-7 but hit the target with only two attempts, according to WhoScored.com. It was a third straight defeat in all competitions for Spurs, who lost 4-0 at Chelsea last weekend and fell 3-1 at home to Benfica on Thursday in the Europa League.
For Arsenal, on the other hand, the win and three points could prove vital to their renewed title challenge. Following Chelsea's surprising loss at Aston Villa on Saturday, Arsenal moved within four points of the league leaders—with an extra game in hand.
Currently in third place—behind Liverpool on goal difference—Arsenal face another massive match next weekend when they visit Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea. A victory would pull Arsenal within one point of the Blues, but defeat would leave the Gunners seven points behind with only eight games to play.
"It is a huge result. We were under pressure to win before the game because of course it was a very important game," manager Arsene Wenger told Arsenal.com. "…Tottenham played well you must say. For me they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it."
Tottenham, meanwhile, are now fifth, seven points behind Manchester City—who have played three fewer games than Spurs. Tim Sherwood's side will try to revive their faltering top-four challenge next Sunday at home to Southampton.
"We deserved to win the game," Sherwood said, per TalkSport. "We outplayed Arsenal, had more chances, they had one shot on goal in the second half. But unfortunately, we were unable to take our glorious chances, we had a few good ones. If you take them you come away and everyone’s happy, but results are everything."
Spurs barely had time to settle in before Arsenal took the lead via Rosicky's superb strike just 72 second into the match. After breaking up a Tottenham attack in his own half, Oxlade-Chamberlain started a swift counter-attack, passing to Rosicky on the right. The two then traded passes before Rosicky blasted a first-time finish past Hugo Lloris for an early 1-0 Arsenal lead.
Tottenham controlled possession in the following minutes, but Arsenal again produced a big chance on the counter in the 15th minute. Picking up possession in the midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain dribbled past his marker and bore down on Spurs' goal. But with only Lloris to beat, Oxlade-Chamberlain hooked his shot well off target.
Spurs carved out a chance in the 28th minute when Andros Townsend crossed dangerously from the right for Emmanuel Adebayor at the near post. But under pressure from Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, Adebayor was unable to direct his flicked attempt on target.
While Tottenham improved late in the half, Arsenal remained dangerous moving forward. Lukas Podolski shot into the side netting in the 36th minute before Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the target five minutes later.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Tottenham had two chances to equalise early in the second half after gaffes by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. In the 48th minute, Szczesny raced off his line to collect ahead of Adebayor but instead knocked the ball into the path of Nacer Chadli. But before Chadli could shoot, Bacary Sagna hacked the ball away. Moments later, Szczesny spilled a cross into the path of Chadli, who saw his shot blocked by Laurent Koscielny.
Spurs had the upper hand and Townsend set up Chadli for another chance in the 52nd minute, but Chadli was unable to direct his attempted back-heel on target. Adebayor then flashed a header off target 12 minutes later.
Sherwood brought on substitutes Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson as Spurs continued searching for the equaliser. Arsenal responded by introducing Mathieu Flamini for Rosicky in the midfield. Nacho Monreal, a full-back by trade, replaced Podolski to shore up the left flank.
Arsenal nearly grabbed their second goal in the 78th minute, when Mertesacker redirected a Santi Cazorla free kick on goal. But Lloris saved well to keep Spurs alive. Sherwood made his final change in the 82nd minute, bringing on Roberto Soldado for Eriksen. Wenger responded with another defensive substitute as Thomas Vermaelen replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Spurs threatened again in the 89th minute as Adebayor forced Szczesny into a save, but Arsenal held on to complete a 1-0 victory and a league double over their fiercest rivals.
|Tottenham Hotspur Player Ratings vs. Arsenal|
|Roberto Soldado||N/A||No rating|
|Arsenal Player Ratings vs. Tottenham Hotspur|
|Thomas Vermaelen||N/A||No rating|
Tottenham Hotspur play at Benfica in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round-of-16 tie on Thursday. Benfica won the first leg 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Spurs return to the Premier League next Sunday with a match at home to Southampton.
Arsenal play at Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday.
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