Tottenham inflicts Arsenal's 4th league loss
Tottenham inflicted Arsenal's fourth loss of the Premier League season on Sunday, winning the north London derby 2-1 to give Arsene Wenger a miserable start to his 16th year as Gunners manager.
Rafael van der Vaart scored the 10,000th goal in Tottenham history just before halftime and Kyle Walker clinched the victory with his first for the club in the 73rd minute after Aaron Ramsey's equalizer for Arsenal.
''Arsenal are a ball possession team and we found it difficult at times but we dug deep and got the result we needed,'' Walker said.
Harry Redknapp's side has now won three of the last four league derbies and drawn the other against an Arsenal side which has finished in the top four for the last 15 years.
With four consecutive wins, Spurs are sixth in the standings after six matches, three points behind fourth-place Newcastle with a game in hand.
Arsenal, though, is languishing in 15th - just two points above the relegation zone.
''The further in front (of Arsenal) we can get the better,'' Redknapp said.
And Arsenal's injury problems mounted with defender Bacary Sagna set to be out for three months with a broken right leg after falling awkwardly following Benoit Assou-Ekotto's challenge.
''We are not where we want to be,'' Wenger said. ''It is important we respond quickly.''
Wenger, who marked 15 years as Arsenal manager on Saturday, has seen his side concede 14 goals in four away games after the club's worst start to a season in 58 years.
''At the moment we have to set realistic targets,'' Wenger said. ''To say today we will win the league is not realistic. If we get in a better position (maybe). At moment we are 12 points from (leaders) Manchester United and City.''
Tensions boiled over after the match, with Tottenham coach Clive Allen saying Wenger ''refused to shake my hand'' - a claim denied by the Frenchman.
''I shook the hand of the manager and the assistant manger,'' Wenger said. ''How many people do I have to shake hands with, is there a prescription? There were no words exchanged.''
Tottenham has managed to recover from its own disappointing start after back-to-back losses to Manchester rivals United and City.
Arsenal was controlling the midfield but failing to get close to Brad Friedel's goal thanks in part to Scott Parker's interventions. Gervinho had a clear chance after Robin van Persie cut the ball back to him, but the Arsenal striker missed the target with the goal at his mercy.
''They had a lot of possession in the first half, it was difficult,'' Redknapp said. ''They played with three in midfield with one up and so they were always going to hold sway in terms of possession.''
The buildup to the match had surrounded Emmanuel Adebayor's reaction to facing fans of former club Arsenal, but he stayed calm despite taunts about the deadly attack on the Togo team in 2010 and helped to provide Tottenham's opener.
Van der Vaart brought down Adebayor's cross with his chest before volleying through Per Mertesacker and Sagna into the bottom corner of the net. Wenger was angry that the Netherlands playmaker appeared to use an arm to control the ball.
''I nearly made a change before halftime to thicken us up in there but I thought we'll see how we go,'' Redknapp said. ''They got off to a better start in the second-half but we upped it and got better and stronger and in the second half we had all the chances.''
But first, Ramsey leveled for Arsenal six minutes after the break, dispatching the ball into the net after Van der Vaart failed to close down Song on the left flank.
It didn't rouse Arsenal into pushing for its third win of the season.
''I felt we didn't push on enough and let them get back into the game,'' Wenger said. ''I feel we lack a bit of confidence at the moment and we tried to protect the result.''
Adebayor was denied a winner when one-on-one with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny after being fed by Bale, producing a weak shot rather than attempting to round the goalkeeper.
But Szczesny allowed Walker's swerving, dipping shot to go through his arms to give Spurs a win that raises their hopes of returning to the top after missing out last season.