Tottenham's manager, Andre Villas-Boas, caused eyebrows to be raised after yesterday's game by refusing to blame Emmanuel Adebayor for his sending-off, and claiming that Spurs were in control throughout the game.
His opposite number, Arsène Wenger, responded with a victor's smile: "If our opponents are in control from the first minute to the last and we win 5-2, I don't mind."
Villas-Boas said of the red card: "The ref had a tough decision to make. Ade went into the challenge not to harm Cazorla. Cazorla is quick, he took the ball away before Ade's feet met his foot and the ref has to make a decision and he decided for the red." Villas-Boas did not accept that Adebayor, who received a yellow card against another former club, Manchester City, last week, had lost control of his emotions. "We understand that it could've been any other player on any other day. I think Ade was in full control of his emotions and in a north London derby, you want players to challenge for balls, you want them to win second balls, you want them to be strong, to be brave. That's exactly what they did from the first minute to the last."
The Spurs manager did not accept that the dismissal changed the game, although Wenger was in the majority in feeling the opposite. "It changed certainly the game because Adebayor had a good start and was lively," he said. "What did I make of it? It's not rose, it's not yellow, it's red. Tottenham had a good start and we were a bit nervous. It looked like a repeat of last year."
Then, Arsenal went 2-0 down and won 5-2. Wenger is now justified in believing the win will do wonders for his team: "You could see the confidence was not completely still there. I hope this result will help us make a step up on that level. I felt with the two results we had against Schalke and Manchester United, our confidence level dropped, and because we are a team that likes to go forward, when your confidence drops, your game suffers straightaway. So it was important to get back to positive results. This team is something special."
Unsurprisingly, the north London derby is now the highest-scoring fixture in Premier League history:
121: goals Arsenal/Tottenham
119: Everton/Manchester United
116: Liverpool/ Newcastle United