Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal: Final Score 0-1, Rosicky rocket seals derby spoils

Paul Gilham

Arsenal kept themselves very much in the title race with as comfortable an away derby win as they probably dared dream.

Arsenal's inspiration proved just too much for Tottenham Hotspur's perspiration in a strangely low-scoring yet absorbing North London clash.

The first half was notable for two things: A Tomas Rosicky rocket that opened the scoring after just 72 seconds, and Tottenham's apparent decision that that defending thing that other teams generally insist upon just wasn't for them.

It is perhaps a disingenuous claim to make in fairness. The hosts' contested their tackles with the kind of relish that a North London derby demands, and they pressed the ball pretty efficiently high up the pitch. However, when Arsenal did get out, the Spurs back four holding their line almost at the half-way line allowed their goal to be plundered almost at will and Arsene Wenger would have been frustrated to have gone in at half time just one goal to the good.

What a goal that one was, though. Leading a counter attack himself, Rosicky exchanged passes - well, bobbles - with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before unleashing a right-footed drive into the top corner of the net which couldn't have been any sweeter if it was doused in honey.

The Tottenham response was unspectacular but spirited. They began to monopolize possession and probed for an equalizer without ever really establishing a sustained spell of pressure. Nacer Chadli pulling a shot wide and Emanuele Adebayor squirming a presentable close range chance wide was pretty much the sum of their first half attacking efforts.

It was Arsenal's threat on the counter-attack which provided the most consistent threat, with Oxlade-Chamberlain in particularly wasteful mood, but the pattern of the game had been established.

After the break it was essentially much more of the same, only quicker and a bit more frantic. Tottenham upped the tempo and pushed their visitors back into their own box for large spells, and it very nearly reaped instant rewards. Wojciech Szczesny managed to spill a high cross into the box, presenting the ball to a grateful Chadli, only for the Belgian to see his shot blocked on the line by two defenders.

But that was the story of Spurs' afternoon really. Probably the story of their season, actually. Neat and pretty around the box, but half chances were bludgeoned out rather than actually crafted. That final piece of quality just eluded them. What joy there was for Sherwood's men came from hopeful deep crosses into the box or sudden bursts of uncontrolled athleticism.

As the game wore on Arsenal grew increasingly content with the 0-1 scoreline and confident it would be sufficient to secure a big three points in the Premier League title race, while all Spurs could muster to challenge that belief was a couple more long crosses and blind hope that someone in red might do something stupid. They didn't, and the final score probably did justice to the contest.

Tottenham Hostpur: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose, Chadli (Sigurdsson 68'), Sandro (Paulinho 68'), Eriksen (Soldado 82'), Bentaleb, Townsend, Adebayor

Goals: None

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Rosicky (Flamini 69'), Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Vermaelen '85), Cazorla, Podolski (Monreal 76'), Giroud

Goals: Rosicky (2')

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