Arsenal won it just like they did last year as Mertesacker’s first ever goal for the club sparked a come back after Adebayor had followed up his opening goal with a sending off.

Against ten men, the Gunners had their tails up after equalizing and on the stroke of half-time, Podolski and Giroud made it 3-1. Cazorla then guided home another goal after the restart as the hosts looked to have completely killed matters off at 4-1 only for Gareth Bale to snatch one back for Tottenham.

That goal unsettled Arsenal’s nerves a bit at 4-2 but Walcott netted in the dying minutes to finish off a much need 5-2 victory over Arsenal’s north London neighbours.

Adebayor and Jermain Defoe were causing Arsenal’s defence all sorts of problems and moments after William Gallas had seen a strike ruled out for offside, Spurs were ahead. Mertesacker and Sagna both inexplicably stepped up to let Vertonghen’s long ball send Defoe clean through.

His low drive from the left was repelled by Wojciech Szczesny – starting his first match in two months following an ankle injury – but Adebayor was on hand to tap home the rebound. Arsenal were struggling for any sort of rhythm and Aaron Lennon dragged an effort inches wide as Tottenham pressed for a second.However, the momentum shifted when Adebayor caught Cazorla with a lunging raised foot, leaving referee Howard Webb little option.

The dismissal of a player who left Arsenal for Manchester City before joining Tottenham gave the home players and fans a noticeable lift. Six minutes later, Mertesacker peeled away from Gallas to meet Walcott’s right-wing cross with a superb header. Hugo Lloris, making only his second league start in goal in place of Brad Friedel, could do nothing to stop the equaliser and prevented a second when Giroud glanced Wilshere’s free-kick towards the top corner.

The pressure began to mount, though, and after Cazorla swerved a drive just over and Lloris again denied Giroud, Arsenal went ahead.A neat interchange between Mikel Arteta and Wilshere set up Podolski and his finish bobbled into the net via Gallas. It was now a case of damage limitation until the break for Tottenham, but they were breached once more in stoppage time.

Webb played an advantage that enabled Cazorla to supply a low cross from the left for Giroud to sweep home first time, despite Gallas and Vertonghen being in close attendance. Villas-Boas replaced full-backs Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton with centre-back Michael Dawson and forward Clint Dempsey – switching to 3-5-1 – and his team started the second half with tempo.

But Arsenal used their numerical advantage to avert the danger before targeting their opponents on the counter-attack. The tactic was rewarded when Walcott fed Podolski on the left and his perfectly-weighted centre was easily converted by Cazorla. Bale showed there was still life in Tottenham, exploiting lax defending to find the bottom corner before going just wide three minutes later.

Arsenal had a two-goal cushion but looked nervous, and Defoe somehow failed to connect with a Bale corner from close range. But as Spurs began to tire, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and he set up Walcott to complete the win.

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