Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1 match report: Tomas Rosicky rocket sees Arsenal open up gap from Spurs in Premier League table

Czech midfielder scored the only goal of the game in the second minute to cement the Gunners' place in the top four

white hart lane

After two seasons of one-point proximity between the two north London clubs, this year the gap in the Premier League is back. Arsenal’s win here on Sunday afternoon leaves them nine points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, having played one game fewer, and with almost no prospect whatsoever of Spurs supremacy – or a top-four finish – this season.

Those last two years, when Arsenal beat Spurs by one position and one point into Champions League qualification, looked far away on Sunday. So did the corresponding fixture one year ago when Spurs won 2-1 and Andre Villas-Boas, at the high-point of his tenure and seven points clear of his rivals, condemned Arsenal’s “negative spiral”.

Since then the two teams have spiralled in different directions entirely. Tottenham have lost their best player – Gareth Bale – and their coach, and satisfactorily replaced neither. The sense of direction and purpose at White Hart Lane has dissipated to the extent that there were a smattering of “Levy Out” protesters outside the ground before kick-off.

Spurs did not play especially poorly – they have certainly performed far worse than this recently, not least in defeats to Norwich City and Benfica – but there was a pervasive sense of no real plan, with the ball moving forward almost too quickly, and a series of scrambled half-chances ultimately less helpful than anything purposefully built.

Kieran Gibbs (left) competes with Emmanuel Adebayor (GETTY) Kieran Gibbs (left) competes with Emmanuel Adebayor (GETTY) Arsenal were not much better, but they scored a brilliant goal after 72 seconds and that certainly made everything else easier. Of course, they cannot play the type of football many would hope for when Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are all injured. Yet they did show the sort of nerve, focus and resilience that they have only really re-discovered in the last 12 months, since that nadir afternoon here and Villas-Boas’ subsequent gloat. Those are some of the characteristics, now, that Tottenham need urgently.

Spurs’ ferocious approach ultimately did not work but it helped to create the sort of game that could only be a derby in the Premier League. The tempo was relentless; the whole first half felt like a first five minutes, and the second half was not exactly sluggish either. The quality was good but not excellent, with enough poor defending and finishing to keep everybody tense. It was a surprise that no one was sent off and one or two might have been. .

Tottenham v Arsenal - as it happened

What decided the game was that as desperate as Spurs were to win – and no one could accuse these players of not  trying on Tim Sherwood’s behalf – they did not have the nous, while Arsenal did. Tottenham did not even have enough time to be warned. They were so dangerously assertive from the start, with the back four pushing far too far up the pitch, that Arsenal punished them immediately.

Tomas Rosicky did not start the game in the middle but high and wide on the right, and in the first minute he burst forward into space. He turned down the chance to shoot, passing inside to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was tackled. The ball rolled back towards Rosicky, on the corner of the penalty area. Without considering any alternative, he struck it with the outside of his right boot so purely that it flew into the far top corner of the goal.

Arsene Wenger (left) and Tim Sherwood on the touchline (GETTY) Arsene Wenger (left) and Tim Sherwood on the touchline (GETTY) That dangerously high Spurs defensive line contributed to the fatal defeats for Villas-Boas, but here Spurs pursued it as if they had forgotten all the lessons of the previous months. Straight after the goal, Lukas Podolski nearly darted in behind Younes Kaboul before Oxlade-Chamberlain stormed forward only to produce a disappointing chip that sailed away from goal. Next it was Santi Cazorla – moved into central midfield – sliding through Podolski, who squared to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who shot wide. Then the German, again escaping Kaboul, hammered his shot into the top of the side-netting.

Arsenal were far safer defensively – this was another impressive afternoon for Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker – but Spurs did force a few openings in the first half. Emmanuel Adebayor played like he meant it all afternoon, and he nearly turned in crosses from Andros Townsend and then Kyle Naughton before hitting an overhead kick just over the bar from an offside position.

The home side were likeliest to equalise at the start of the second half, which they began far sharper than Arsenal. Twice in the opening minutes Wojciech Szczesny dropped crosses. The first time Bacary Sagna quickly covered but the next, Nacer Chadli paused and dallied before hitting his shot straight at Koscielny.

This was not one of Chadli’s finest afternoons in a Spurs shirt – Sherwood did not look very impressed with him at times – and he flicked a Townsend cross wide a few minutes later. Chadli was replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson but Arsenal were increasingly comfortable as the game went on – one header wide and one saved curling shot, both by Adebayor, representing the extent of Spurs’ late threat.

Mathieu Flamini, Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen all came on for Arsenal as they shut down the game. They could have had a penalty when Koscielny went down, and Lloris had to save from Mertesacker. But Arsenal saw out their 1-0 win, just as they did at the Emirates six months ago.

Tottenham were obviously frustrated. Sherwood tore off his gilet in the first half and  threw the ball at Sagna, encouraging him to take a throw-in. The fans implored Sherwood to bring on Roberto Soldado but jeered when it was at the expense of Christian Eriksen. Arsenal fans sang about going to Wembley. Tottenham’s season is finished.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1) Lloris 5; Naughton 6, Kaboul 4, Vertonghen 5, Rose 5; Sandro 6 (Paulinho, 68, 5), Bentaleb 5; Townsend 7, Chadli 4 (Sigurdsson 69, 5), Eriksen 6 (Soldado 82); Adebayor 7

Arsenal (4-3-3) Szczesny 5; Sagna 7, Mertesacker 8, Koscielny 8, Gibbs 7; Chamberlain 7 (Vermaelen 85), Arteta 7, Cazorla 7; Rosicky 7 (Flamini 69, 6) Giroud 5, Podlski 6 (Monreal 77)

Match rating: 8

Man of the match: Koscielny

Read more: Comment: Sherwood still rants as Spurs huff and puff
Rosicky: Title race will go down to the wire
Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?