Premier League: William Gallas Inspires Tottenham To Dramatic Win Over Arsenal
William Gallas put in a faultless display as captain and centre-back at The Emirates on Saturday afternoon as his Tottenham team reversed a two-goal half-time deficit to defeat rivals Arsenal 3-2 away from home.
Fellow defender Younes Kaboul's 86th minute header capped a remarkable comeback and meant that Spurs beat a ''Top Four'' team away from home in the league for the first time in 69 attempts.
The announcements of Gallas and David Bentley over the tannoy in the match build-up both prompted deafening boos from Arsenal fans, and each time the former French international touched the ball for the visitors, the home fans let him know their feelings about his public criticism of Samir Nasri and other key members of Arsenal's new generation of footballers.
However, Gallas's expertly-timed sliding tackle in the opening minutes to prevent Nasri, who had earlier refused to shake his hand as the teams lined up, storming through on goal signalled his intention to rise above the pettiness of the crowd and prove his worth to manager Harry Redknapp, who signed him on a free transfer over the summer.
Nasri is in fine form for The Gunners this year, and added to his record goal tally just moments later when he profited from sloppy positioning from Spurs left-back Benoit Assou-Ekott and hesitancy from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to skew a left-footed shot over the line from a tight angle.
Who was Man of the Match in Tottenham's 3-2 win over Arsenal?
With the visitors out-muscled and outclassed in midfield, Arsenal took control of the match and added a second goal before half-time. Andrey Arshavin teed up Marouane Chamakh to bundle the ball home despite close attention from Kaboul. It was a goal which any team would be proud of as Arsenal had stretched their opponents for nearly a full minute with a string of fine passes before the Moroccan's decisive touch.
Such was the lack of impact that key players Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart were having on the game that Redknapp turned to Jermain Defoe, a striker who had not played for nearly three months due to injury, at half-time to get his team back into the game.
And it took less than five minutes of action for the England hitman to make a telling contribution. As the ball was played out of defence, Defoe was quick to head the ball onto Van der Vaart, who found Bale in space. With the Welsh winger in such fine form, it was no surprise that he followed a deft first touch with a cool finish low past Gunners 'keeper Lukas Fabianski off the outside of his left foot. This was quick and simple counter-attacking football a la Wenger.
The goal seemed to lift the travelling fans and dent the confidence of a frail and naive Arsenal team who had already lost to West Bromwich Albion at home before yesterday. Suddenly, where before Fabregas, Denilson and Song had embarrassed Tottenham duo Jermaine Jenas and Luka Modric in the midfield with their slight of feet and combinations, the trio lost their sense of direction and purpose.
In fact, it was young captain Fabregas who gave Tottenham's Van der Vaart to swing the game in his team's favour.
After Alex Song had clattered into Bale, now showing more enterprise and menace drifting between and down both flanks, Fabregas inexplicably blocked Van der Vaart's set-piece with his forearm on the edge of the box. Referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot and the Dutchman cooly sent Fabianski the wrong way. The crowd fell silent, except for one corner of jubilant white-shirted fans.
Nevertheless, Arsenal, momentarily reinvigorated by a rare appearance from striker Robin Van Persie and the pace of Theo Walcott, Bale's contemporary in Southampton's youth teams, drove forward in search of a winner.
Firstly, Fabregas looked to atone for his error with a beautiful curled effort from the edge of the box, which Gomes acrobatically tipped around the far post. Secondly, Laurent Koscielny wasted great footwork and a pinpoint cross from substitute Van Persie as he headed over unmarked at the back post from just five yards.
But William Gallas was to have the last laugh.
With time running out, Younes Kaboul glanced Van der Vaart' s free-kick low into the corner of the net with the back of his head in front of thousand of furious home fans and leaft the red half of North London feeling the blues. Wenger, furious at his teams naive capitulation, kicked over his bottle of water in rage on the touchline.
And Tottenham showed enough composure to see out the remaining ten minutes of the match with only a couple of minor scares to record an historic and improbable victory to close the gap on their rivals to four points.
Final Score: Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Goals: Nasri '9, Chamakh 27; Bale '50, Van der Vaart '67, Kaboul '86
Arsenal: Fabianski 5; Sagna 6, Koscielny 5, Squillaci 5, Clichy 6; Nasri 7 (Rosicky), Fabregas 7, Song 6, Denilson 5, Arshavin 6 (Walcott); Chamakh 5 (Van Persie 5)
Tottenham Hotspur: Gomes 5; Hutton 5, Gallas 9, Kaboul 8, Assou-Ekotto 5; Lennon 6 (Defoe 6), Modric 6, Jenas 6, Bale 7; Van der Vaart 7 (Palacios); Pavlyuchenko 5 (Crouch 5)
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