It’s a phrase that’s rarely been uttered this season. But boy did Arsenal play superbly on Sunday. For 45 minutes they once again resembled a team capable of winning a Premier League title. No one could have predicted the red tide that gobbled Tottenham up and spat them back out in what proved to be an absorbing North London derby that will live long in the memory. It evoked words that haven’t been associated with the Gunners in a long time. Exhilarating, dynamic, unshakable, anchored, clinical. A lot has been said over the past 48-hours as to how the manner of their victory over Spurs could be a turning point in what has turned out to be a miserable season. Would it be too presumptuous to buy into that belief? This isn’t the team of 10-years ago that conquered all before them. Is this merely a triumph that papers over the cracks?

Lest we forget the first half at the Emirates Stadium was an all Tottenham affair. From the moment Louis Saha’s deflected fourth minute opener looped over the head of Wojciech Szczęsny and into the net it looked as if Arsene Wenger was going to have another crisis to contend with. Spurs have been in the ascendancy over Arsenal all season and looked likely to cement that when ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor scored from the penalty spot 10 minutes before half time.

The concession of two cheap goals bore the hallmarks of Arsenal’s campaign and the fragility of their already pummeled confidence. Defeats to AC Milan in the Champions League and Sunderland in the FA Cup in the space of a few days had knocked the wind out of their already battered sails. Again they stared down the barrel of another morale demolishing loss at the hands of their greatest rivals. This would be the blow that would kill Arsenal off once and for all and end a season they can’t wait to escape from.

However quite the opposite occurred. If ever there was a performance that typified the Jekyll and Hyde saying – this was it. At ten past two on Sunday afternoon Arsenal looked dead and buried. By quarter past they were alive and kicking once again. Two goals in quick succession breathed new life into the ailing Gunners and sent a rapid burst of energy searing around the Emirates crowd. Wenger’s team talk was already written for him. The team that emerged for the second half was the same one that was was thumped in Milan and humbled on Wearside. Except this time the mentality amongst the players was different. It was as if the penny had finally dropped and they finally realised that wallowing in self-pity was getting them nowhere fast.

A different Arsenal came to the fore in that second half. Cast aside was the usual methodological approach that involved sitting back, soaking up pressure and waiting to pounce once the opponent had committed an error. Frankly that hadn’t done them much good this season. On Sunday they became the controllers of their own destiny. Every time a Tottenham player took possession he was devoured in the red tide. Time on the ball became an occasional commodity for the men clad in white shirts as the Gunners snapped at their heels whenever the opportunity presented itself. They worked as a unit and delivered a committed performance of maximum intensity. Frequent scapegoats Thomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott strolled off the field to rapturous applause. So often the subject of derision from the stands, the pair ran themselves into the ground and weighed in with vital goals.

The question is can they replicate that in the next 12 games and secure the coveted final place in the top four? Arsenal have blown hot and cold all season without ever looking capable of nailing down that last Champions League spot. Whilst the second half performance at Tottenham was one of the highest quality they were truly awful in the first period. As always the back four was flimsy and toothless for the first 45 minutes. How they managed to stem the Spurs tide is unbeknownst to me. Whilst it could prove to be the catalyst for the Gunners to push on as the season enters its final furlong their confidence continues to teeter on a knife-edge.

We all know they have a squad containing players capable of playing for some of the worlds best clubs. It’s the brittle self-esteem that is their biggest enemy. One crushing defeat can send their belief plummeting right back into the abyss. The Spurs triumph certainly gave the Premier League a reminder of just what Arsenal are capable of. However gauging their possible renaissance on it would be irresponsible. Saturday’s game against Carling Cup winners Liverpool will be the biggest indicator as to whether they have turned a corner. Kenny Dalglish’s men will be riding the crest of a considerably large wave following their trophy triumph at Wembley. Taking maximum points away from Anfield will be the real acid test for the Gunners.

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  • Steve
    3 years ago

    Well Jack Penny you never watched the game so do not try and write a report 3 days later. The first half was not all Spuds as you say i think they were the only 2chances they had , a deflection and a dive. Even Harry said he was worried when they were 2 up, watch the game then report.

    Reply
  • Dan
    3 years ago

    What match were you watching? Apart from the 1st 5ins arsenal dominated Spuds and were unlucky to actually be 1 down let alone 2. I do get your point about this being the turning point but we dominated for 85minutes and this was against this seasons ‘entertainers’ with their strongest team and they didn’t have an answer to the boys playing the way they should and representing the shirt with pride and passion

    Reply
  • Jak Penny
    3 years ago

    Well Steve & Dan I actually did watch the game and from my perspective Tottenham were the better team for the first 40 minutes of the game. Also, this isn’t a match report of any kind..

    Reply
    • dan
      3 years ago

      From your perspective mate it doesn’t look as if you can see a whole lot with that dodgy barnet coving half your face! Get a haircut and it could probably help you see what actually happened in any given matches you want to write about!

      Reply
      • Jak Penny
        3 years ago

        Mature insight Dan. I think the barnet will be staying as it is as will my opinions of the game.

        Reply
    • pontus
      3 years ago

      Jack, if you get the chance, please watch the game again and tell me how, apart from on the score sheet, spuds dominated the first half.
      We were all over them from about minute 6. Our defence was sloppy for the first maybe 15 minutes but come on. They score one through a deflection and the other through a spud diving in the box. We had a good first half and a fantastic second half and we were the better team throughout the whole game.

      Reply
    • Mike
      3 years ago

      If you watched it, you have no excuse. Arsenal dominated at least 80% of that game in both halves. Tottenham created litle or nothing wiithout the deflection and the dive. It’s yet more of the media philosophy of not letting the facts get in the way of disrespecting Arsenal.

      The previous week we totally dominated Sunderland (71% possession, better passing, better tackling, more territory, more shots on target, more corners etc., etc.,) and we were ‘outfought and outplayed’. Sunderland had all round better stats in their 4-0 defeat to WBA on Saturday for god’s sake.

      If you don’t like Arsenal just say from the outset so the Arsenal haters can read on while people looking for some decent unbiased reporting can look elsewhere.

      Reply
      • Jak Penny
        3 years ago

        I’m actually a fan or Arsenal, the way they used to play and the philosophies adopted by Wenger. Domination doesn’t always come down to possession though.

        When I say Spurs dominated for 40 minutes its in the context of the half they contained Arsenal well whilst also having the chance to extend their lead to three or four nil.

        As you can see I’ve not disparaged Arsenal’s performance but from MY point of view their performance in the first half was nothing to shout home about. After the break they were phenomenal.

        Reply
        • n1 gooner
          3 years ago

          Again you are flawed mate and digging more holes.How can you say they could have gone 3-4 up when we was having all the chances.

          I’m saying this in such a non-biast way aswell.

          Reply
          • Jak Penny
            3 years ago

            What about Bale’s strike straight into the arms of Szczensy he should have squared to the waiting Adebayor and Saha? Or Walkers strike that just whistled past the post?

            This is really a whole load of fuss over nothing. Differing opinions and perspectives of the game. I stand by my view that Tottenham were the better side for 40 minutes but were turned over once Sagna scored the first Arsenal goal.

            Case closed. Comment on the ACTUAL point of the article which is will this propel Arsenal forward or was it just a spur of the moment performance?

  • n1 gooner
    3 years ago

    Jak then i suggest you get down to specsavers because your the only person that has come out with that.The only people talking rubbish is the deluded spud fan’s??? Are you one of em??

    Reply
  • Lee
    3 years ago

    Lads, I think the point of this article is that we stepped up and changed tactics in order to win the game. Everytime we’ve won, its because we play that very brand of football. I remember Pires and Ljungberg pretty much winning us titles by doing just that. I therefore thought this article was good.

    Reply
  • n1 gooner
    3 years ago

    Lee we get what he’s trying to say but how did the spud’s dominate the first half when we could have easily been 5-2 up in that first half and they shouldn’t even had a 2nd goal when gale dived as usual.

    Reply
  • Steve
    3 years ago

    When people write articles that are incorrect (in as much as the spuds having the first half) which in NO WAY was the case, they should a least apologise and admit they are wrong. Jak would have made a journalist at the News of the World.

    Reply
  • Peteo
    3 years ago

    N1 gooner – yeah, Bale dived, I’m a spurs fan and I’m not best pleased about it. What about Arteta though on a Sandro Challenge – no touch but our man got a booking.
    Not condoning cheating at all, but don’t think your players aren’t up to it too. I’m dissapointed with Bale, the kid is starting to beleive in his own hype too much, the last 2 months have been poor in my oppinion.
    Well played to arsenal, they deserved it, 2-0 did flatter us admittedly. We where very over confident, dangerously so. Arsenal where like a wounded animal that day and gave us a pasting.
    Althought the bitter rivalry, I hope to see you in fourth behind us rather than chelski or Luckypool.

    Reply
    • n1 gooner
      3 years ago

      Thank you for being a adult about it and someone who finally talks some sense.

      We are not all squeeky clean i admit that but bales dive was shocking and could have resulted in a red for our young keeper.

      Reply
  • lordwhales
    3 years ago

    @penny i do not agree wit u on 40mins domination by spuds they never dominated more than 5-10 after which they became spectators. Cuz i arsenal took the battle to them in all angles of the field we play them and control the tempo of the game though so unlucky to concede the own goal and the dubious penalty of the divinggale yet we were cohesive and determine in our game against them i only wish we can carry on the tempo in all other matches till the season ends

    Reply
  • after15mins
    3 years ago

    What a load of crap if i walked out when we where on top winning 1-0 then what i am about to say is true or sour grapes. The fact are this Arsenal could not afford to lose this game or there season was dead and when this happens work rate rises dramatically in all shock results. Now i knew Arsenal would play Benayoun failed Chelsea reject because he came from a team reported for lets say raising there work rate by using a banned substance called Ephedrine . This has now mushroomed all over football the latest three are Paddy Kenny Kolo Toure and Marshall a Barnet player. This kicks in about 15 mins into games and when i seen this happen i walked out fearing the worse. By then we was leading and 2-0 but i still knew what was coming in a game Arsenal could not afford to lose. My worse fears come true my daughter said they have just scored 2-1 i old here we would get beat and the rest is history. Harry is only guilty of not playing Lennon because these three goals would not have happened Sagnas and Wallcots two if we had Bale and Lennon protecting the full backs.

    Reply
    • n1 gooner
      3 years ago

      Stop smoking on the bong’s,your mind has gone funny.

      Reply
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