An early goal from Tomas Rosicky was enough for Arsenal to defeat Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's North London Derby, keeping the Gunners in the race for the 2013-14 Premier League title.
Spurs dominated possession, but a wonderful strike from long range forced the hosts to play catch up for the bulk of the afternoon. And despite a late push for an equaliser, Arsenal held on to their slim lead to take home the three points.
Replacing the injured Mesut Ozil, Rosicky put in a fine performance, and it was his wonderful strike that ultimately made the difference.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger rightfully praised his midfielder, per ESPN's Miguel Delaney:
Wenger says scoring so early probably influenced Arsenal a bit too much, but Rosicky's goal one of best in his time at club.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 16, 2014
As reported by Rohith Nair, both managers had their own views on the match:
Sherwood: Best team lost today. Wenger: They dominated possession but we had more chances and we got the result. #Arsenal— Röhith Nair (@RohithNair) March 16, 2014
Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood came into this tie with a lot of pressure on his shoulders with his club losing four of their last six games. As Delaney notes, the coach's confidence is still intact and the losses only serve as lessons for the future:
Sherwood says he's learnt more in last week, when losing games, than in easy period when winning. "I'm really, really up for the challenge."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 16, 2014
Cameras picked up on Sherwood forcibly throwing his gilet into the dugout, indicating frustration with his team's performance. Gary Lineker saw it too:
No one throws a gilet quite like Tim Sherwood.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 16, 2014
The coach shrugged off questions about the incident in typical Sherwood-fashion, according to Hotspur Related:
Sherwood: "It was too hot for that gillet." #THFC— Hotspur Related (@HotspurRelated) March 16, 2014
In another incident, Sherwood seemed to have a bit of an altercation with Arsenal player Bacary Sagna, and Ives Galarcep was curious whether this will have any consequences down the road:
Wondering what the FA will say about Tim Sherwood's impromptu game of dodgeball with Bacary Sagna. Not quite as bad as a headbutt, but still— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 16, 2014
When asked about what journalists described as "his antics," Sherwood pointed to his fiery nature and told reporters he wasn't putting on a show, per Delaney:
Sherwood on his antics: "I’d be acting then. I hate actors, too many in this game. I just want to wear heart on my sleeve."— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 16, 2014
Wenger praised the hosts' effort in Sunday's match and agreed with reporters that the result was an important one, per Erskine Amoakuh:
#Wenger "It was an unbelievable start with Tomas Rosicky's goal coming from nowhere. Tottenham played very well. I don't deny that at all"— Erskine Amoakuh (@skinnoo) March 16, 2014
#Wenger "It was a must-win game. We maintained the focus to not make the mistake that would cost us."— Erskine Amoakuh (@skinnoo) March 16, 2014
The French coach also spoke about his legacy at the club, as shared by this fan:
Arsène Wenger: "One day, I'll look back & be proud of what I've done. We fought with clubs who lose £150m/yr when we had to make £30m/yr."— Arsenal FC (@FFArsenal) March 16, 2014
This fan points out there's a good reason Wenger seemed almost nostalgic, as the longtime coach is closing in on an astronomical number of games on the touchline:
Apparently, that was Wenger's 999th game in charge #afc— Phil Meadows (@TheTeethgrinder) March 16, 2014
According to Sportunes, Wenger singled out the performance of his defenders as being vital to the result:
"Tottenham played well. We hadn't our usual possession,but you have to give credit to our defensive quality" - Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger— Sportunes (@Sportunes90) March 16, 2014
With Liverpool winning at Old Trafford earlier in the day, Arsenal needed to take all three points from White Hart Lane to stay in the title chase, and Rosicky's expert strike ensured the Gunners still have a chance to break their long trophy drought.
Chelsea's surprise loss to Aston Villa has thrown the race for the EPL title wide open as both the Gunners and Liverpool trail the Blues by just four points, and both clubs have a game in hand.
Arsenal will travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea next week in a game that will most likely decide how the rest of the title race plays out.
Tottenham will have their work cut out for them if they want to hold onto their spot in the top five, as Everton are closing in fast. With a game against Portuguese heavyweights Benfica in midweek, the club will have to recover from this derby loss in a hurry.