It was framed as the changing of the guard in North London so it was perhaps fitting that the young Kyle Walker’s first goal for the club was the decider as Spurs overcame a stuttering Arsenal side 2-1 in an exciting North London Derby.
Arsenal showed the defensive weakness that has plagued their campaign so far when they allowed substitute Sandro too much time to cross and when Luka Modric’s effort was deflected and fell to Walker the 21 year old’s long range effort was misjudged by Wojciech Szczesny.
Those defensive frailties were particularly unseemly today as Spurs managed to outclass Arsenal who were able to match their hosts for long periods of the game.
Indeed Rafael van der Vaart’s opening goal after 40 minutes came very much against the run of play.
The Dutchman finished expertly under pressure when a fine chipped pass from Emmanuel Adebayor found van der Vaart in space after Arsenal’s looseness in midfield was quickly pounced on by a Spurs side happy to allow the visitors possession when they looked so toothless in attack.
There were some protests from the Arsenal players that van Der Vaart had used his arm to control it but it was far from clear cut and it would have been harsh for referee Mike Dean to disallow the goal.
Despite going behind Arsenal enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first half but lacked ideas and Brad Friedel was rarely troubled.
Gervinhio in particular drew an animated reaction from Wenger when he carelessly shot wide inside the box following a good touch from Robin van Persie’s pass.
At the other end, Tottenham’s front trio of Adebayor, van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe were frustrated for much of the afternoon by Szczesny who turned in a solid performance despite his lapse for the second goal.
With Szczesny looking confident it felt for a moment as if Arsenal’s look was about to turn when Aaron Ramsey equalised five minutes after the break, the Welshman made a clever run towards the near post and met Alex Song’s low cross after Younes Kaboul failed to clear a prolonged Arsenal attack.
At that stage the goal was deserved and for the next ten minutes Wenger’s side looked bright but never quite disrupted the Tottenham midfield of Modric and Scott Parker who remained comfortable despite the high tempo of the game.
Wenger afterwards said that he felt his side should have gone on to win the game but it would be a hard position to argue as Tottenham’s organisation coupled with his own side’s inability to create clear cut chances mean that for the first time in a long time the tide in North London has turned in Spurs’ favour.