[QODLink]
Football

Spurs heap misery on Arsenal

Balance of power shifts in North London as Tottenham's Gareth Bale inspires a 2-1 victory over rivals in Premier League.
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2013 18:57
The win moves Spurs into third place in the Premier League, opening up a seven-point gap on Arsenal in the hunt for a Champions League spot [AFP]

Gareth Bale stole the spotlight yet again as the Tottenham star inspired his side to a crucial 2-1 win over Arsenal that piled on the misery for their north London rivals on Sunday.

Bale has been in sublime form of late and the Wales winger produced a typically clinical finish to break the deadlock in the first half at White Hart Lane before Aaron Lennon doubled Tottenham's lead just moments later.

Per Mertesacker's goal early in the second half set the stage for a tense finish, but Andre Villas-Boas's team, now unbeaten in their last 12 league games, held on to move above Chelsea into third place in the English Premier League and within two points of second-placed Manchester City.

European hopes

Spurs have had eight managers since they last finished above Arsenal in 1995, but Villas-Boas could be the one to end that barren stretch as his side sit seven points clear of fifth placed Arsenal, who face a major struggle just to qualify for the Champions League.

"It was a very, very important win," Villas-Boas said. "The motivation now is different, we are extremely confident and Arsenal are at a low.

"But we still have to fight hard, we have big weekends to come and we need to keep doing our job. There is so much to go still."

Arsenal's first defeat in six league games left them five points behind Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish and added to the sense of a club in crisis.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had awoken to reports that Arsenal could be the subject of a takeover bid from a Middle East consortium which would place his future under scrutiny after eight years without a trophy and this was another dispiriting afternoon for the Frenchman.

Arsenal, prompted by Jack Wilshere's intelligent passing, had been first to settle after a frantic opening and Olivier Giroud's header brought Hugo Lloris into action.

Bale had few chances to flourish while Spurs struggled to find their rhythm in the opening 30 minutes and his only contribution of note was to dodge a banana thrown from the section filled with Arsenal fans.

But Bale is far too dynamic a talent to be subdued for long and in the 36th minute he demonstrated the cool head and lethal finishing that sets him apart from the rest of the Premier League at present.

So much of the pre-match focus had centred on Bale's remarkable form, with some pundits even mentioning him in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and here was further evidence to support their case.

Timing his run perfectly to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson's astute pass, Bale burst into the penalty area before flicking a fine finish past Wojciech Szczesny for his 24th goal of the season for club and country and his 10th in his last eight games.

Pivotal moment

In an instant, Bale had completely transformed the tone of the match. Where Arsenal had been relatively comfortable, they now reverted to the nervous group that has struggled for much of the campaign.

Spurs took full advantage to double their lead two minutes later.

This time it was Scott Parker who delivered the crucial contribution, running unchecked from inside his own half before sliding a perfectly-weighted pass to Lennon, who beat Arsenal's woeful offside wrap before rounding Szczesny and slotting into the empty net.

With Spurs rampant at that point, Wenger's side desperately needed a goal early in the second half to restore their belief and Mertesacker delivered in the 51st minute, the German defender glancing a header into the far corner from Theo Walcott's cross.

Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal lashed a long-range effort just wide as Arsenal poured forward in search of an equaliser.

But Bale, scuffing over from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross, wasted a golden chance to restore Tottenham's two-goal lead before Sigurdsson bizarrely opted not to shoot with only Szczesny to beat.

Ramsey was agonisingly close to equalising in the final minutes, but Spurs survived to ensure the balance of power in north London shifted to White Hart Lane.

724

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The new military government has issued warnings that it will soon start to clampdown on immigration offenders.
As Snowden awaits Russian visa renewal, the world mulls role of NSA and expects more revelations from document trove.
A handful of agencies that provide tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea say business is growing.
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
join our mailing list