Spurs are new cocks of north as agony goes on for Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1

White Hart Lane

There was a time when this result in the north London derby would have represented a seismic shift of power in this part of the world, or failing that a massive fluke, but not any longer.

After a generation of being subordinate to their local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur under Harry Redknapp are liberating themselves from the yoke of Arsenal's dominance, to the extent that they no longer celebrate derby victories like some kind of independence day. Certainly, in the sunshine yesterday, they lapped up victory at White Hart Lane but it is becoming commonplace: this made it three wins and a draw for Spurs in their last four league meetings with Arsenal.

In the greatest years of Arsène Wenger's reign at Arsenal, Tottenham were an irrelevance to their rival's ambitions of league titles and Champions League football. As it stands today, Spurs are nine places ahead of them in the Premier League and have the kind of depth and experience in their squad that makes them credible challengers for a Champions League place. No one, not even Wenger, is quite sure what Arsenal's feasible targets are this season.

Before they had succumbed to Kyle Walker's winning goal yesterday, the Arsenal fans sang "What's it like on Channel Five?" to the home support, in recognition of Spurs' downgrading to the Europa League. Yet, by the end, even their former striker Alan Smith, a pundit on Sky Sports, had reluctantly proclaimed that he could not see how Arsenal could preserve their record of 15 consecutive seasons in the Champions League.

It is not as if Arsenal were in a desperate state and, at times in the first half and after Aaron Ramsey's equaliser on 52 minutes, they looked like a side who might just match Spurs. But, increasingly, it is Redknapp's team who have the experience and quality to carry them through the difficult times and see out difficult matches.

Wenger left White Hart Lane cursing Rafael van der Vaart's equaliser which he claimed was a handball but, even on the replays, that was by no means definitive. The Dutch striker controlled Emmanuel Adebayor's cross high on his chest near his shoulder to bring the ball down and score. Had he been booked for a deliberate handball it would have been his second yellow of the game.

The pain just keeps coming for Arsenal. The winner was a shot that Wojciech Szczesny should have saved but the ball dipped and swerved in front of him. Earlier, Bacary Sagna had fallen awkwardly after a challenge from Benoît Assou-Ekotto and turned his ankle. He was taken straight to hospital and Wenger proclaimed himself "very worried" about the prospect the right-back had broken his ankle.

The uncomfortable truth is that too many of Wenger's players simply did not exert enough influence on the game, starting with Robin van Persie and extending to the ineffectual Theo Walcott and Gervinho. Redknapp admitted his team found themselves out-numbered in midfield in the first half and that he toyed with the idea of changing it but his side came good eventually in a manner that just seems beyond Arsenal in these big games.

Redknapp owed much to Scott Parker, who bustled around in midfield, making the important tackles that held Arsenal at bay. In the first half, Walcott and then Gervinho missed chances, the second of which, from a cut back from Van Persie, was an atrocious effort that did not even hit the target. Wenger's team had opportunities and the way they are playing they can no longer afford to be so profligate.

Asked afterward whether he thought his team could still win the title, Wenger said it was now about "realistic targets". The problem for him is that old journalistic chestnut, the time when a manager is asked to effectively concede that the title race is run, is now coming earlier and earlier for him. It is only just October and already his team are 12 points behind the leaders. As for Spurs, that opening defeat to Manchester City feels like a distant memory as they rise to sixth place with fourth in their sights if they can win the game in hand.

Their first goal was a sweet, flowing move from Luka Modric to Van der Vaart, to Jermain Defoe and out to Adebayor before the ball was crossed back to Van der Vaart to score at the back post. Neither Sagna nor Per Mertesacker put in a credible challenge. The Dutch playmaker was less impressive when tasked with tracking Alex Song's run around the right flank of the Spurs' defence. His cross to the near post was steered past Brad Friedel by Ramsey and, for a while, it looked like Arsenal might hold on for a point. Szczesny made an excellent one-handed save from Adebayor when the striker went through on goal.

As it turned out, Redknapp brought Van der Vaart off for Sandro to lend greater strength to Spurs' midfield and they stepped up the pace again. Walker's winning goal was another attack that was not properly cleared, eventually falling to the young Englishman, who hit a powerful shot, pretty much straight at Szczesny. Somehow the Arsenal goalkeeper, despite getting his hands to the ball, failed to bring the shot under control and it was past him.

There was a later chance for Gareth Bale to score when Mertesacker allowed the ball to bounce in the area, but the winger put his chance wide of the post. By the end of the game there was a familiar despair etched on Wenger's face and his frustration seemed to be as much about his own team as it was about any perceived injustices.

His refusal to shake the hand of Spurs' coach Clive Allen at the end of the game, and his subsequent refusal to discuss the incident, was the kind of silly stand-off that tends to happen when teams and managers are under pressure. To be fair to Wenger, Allen often has rather a lot to say during games, a characteristic that used to rile Martin Jol when he was manager, never mind opposition benches.

At the moment, however, the Arsenal manager looks a haunted, hunted man. With Arsenal sitting 16th in the table with seven games played it is far from over, but even so it is difficult to know when the potential Wenger believes his team possesses will emerge.

Adebayor watch: how he fared against old club

Before kick-off

Adebayor looks happy and relaxed meeting his former team-mates, warmly greeting the Arsenal team in the pre-match handshake. Even old pal Robin van Persie, with whom he fell out very publicly.

5 minutes

Gallops down the right wing, beating Alex Song, but Adebayor is robbed in the penalty area by Francis Coquelin.

37 minutes

After a quiet half-hour, Adebayor finally gets on the ball, but loses out to Song on the right. Looking peripheral.

40 minutes

Adebayor sets up Spurs' opening goal: he chips a perfect cross to Rafael van der Vaart, peeling off at the far post, and the Dutchman controls well and volleys in.

53 minutes

With Arsenal now level, Adebayor storms through down the middle, but is left two yards offside by a successful Arsenal trap.

57 minutes

Played in by Van der Vaart, Adebayor is clean through on goal with ample time and space. He tries to shoot into the bottom corner, but Wojciech Szczesny brilliantly stops him with a sprawling save.

80 minutes

Adebayor wrestles Song off the ball in the box, but concedes a free-kick before shooting wide.

84 minutes

Harry Redknapp takes Adebayor off for young midfielder Jake Livermore. The Togo striker is warmly applauded.

Substitutes: Tottenham Sandro 6 (Van der Vaart, 63), Livermore (Adebayor, 84), Corluka (Parker, 90). Arsenal Jenkinson 5 (Sagna, 68), Benayoun 5 (Walcott, 72), Arshavin (Gervinho, 77). Booked: Tottenham Van der Vaart, Parker. Arsenal Mertesacker. Man of the match Bale.

Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Tottenham 49% Arsenal 51%.

Attempts on target: Tottenham 8 Arsenal 7.

Referee M Dean (Wirral).

Attendance 36,274.

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