EPL: New-look Spurs, same old Gunners

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the football match.

ARSENAL 1 (Olivier Giroud 23)
TOTTENHAM 0

If this really is the end of Arsene Wenger, it appears that someone forgot to give him the memo.

After all the comparisons between Tottenham Hotspur's summer trolley dash and Arsenal's frugality, the embattled Frenchman secured one of the most satisfying results of his career and, in doing so, alleviated the pressure he has worked under all summer.

Olivier Giroud, written off by some as a flop for a less-than-impressive first season, hit his third league goal in as many games midway through the first half, giving Arsenal an advantage that they refused to give up.

Tottenham started strongly, earning a corner in the first minute and dominating the midfield.

Paulinho and Etienne Capoue are as formidable a pairing as you'll find in this division.

Andre Villas-Boas had a plan - to target Carl Jenkinson, a late replacement for the unwell Bacary Sagna, with a series of aerial assaults.

The lifelong Gunner struggled against powerful wideman Nacer Chaldi.

Breakthrough

But after looking so uncomfortable in the opening exchanges, Arsenal broke the deadlock midway through the first half and never looked back.

Aaron Ramsey slipped the ball wide to Theo Walcott and his perfectly weighted low cross was smartly diverted home by Olivier Giroud.

In the stands, the home supporters exploded with jubilation.

Tottenham's afternoon could have been much worse.

When Walcott beat Tottenham's offside trap and scampered in on goal, he was stopped in his tracks by an outstanding, but highly risky, sliding tackle from Hugo Lloris.

Referee Michael Oliver made the correct call in waving play on, but with some of the officiating we've seen this season, nothing could be taken for granted.

It wasn't an unblemished day of joy for Arsenal.

Just before the break, Jack Wilshere was forced to limp from the field after apparently experiencing stomach cramps.

He watched the rest of the game from the bench, but may still be a doubt for England this week.

Wilshere was replaced by Mathieu Flamini, making his first appearance for Arsenal since 2008. He may have forgotten that wild lunges are frowned upon in the Premier League.

A swift yellow card early in the second half was an adequate reminder.

It could have been red.

It was only on the hour that an distinctly underwhelming Spurs began to assert themselves again, but every time they pushed up in pursuit of an equaliser, they left themselves open at the back.

Giroud's near miss midway through the second half could have sealed the game.

Injury was added to insult for Spurs in the closing stages when Capoue was carried off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.

He was replaced by Sandro with Erik Lamela making his debut in place of Andros Townsend.

Neither was able to turn the game.

North London Derbies are never anything less than fraught, vitriolic affairs when victory is cherished like a trophy, but you sense that this one will be celebrated more than usual, particularly in the manager's office.

Wenger, again, has been vindicated.


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