Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur in one-sided North London derby – on this day in 2012


The North London derby contested between bitter rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is always a charged-up affair. Thus, it is a must-see game for both fans and neutrals alike.

However, there are occasions when the match turns out to be largely one-sided. This may be due to the sheer superiority of one side; This was true of Arsenal in the early to mid-2000s, when Arsène Wenger’s side regularly read Spurs the Riot Act.

Or it can also happen sometimes due to circumstances. The North London derby in the 2012–13 season was certainly a case of the latter.

The match took place on this day 9 years ago and Arsenal ran out 5-2 winners. Yet while the scoreline may read like massive thrashing – which, in all fairness, it was – the circumstances behind said thrashing are pretty explainable.

Spurs were reduced to 10 men in the first half, meaning it was always a case of damage limitation. That they were unable to limit the damage much says a lot about where the side was at the time.

But that story another time. For now, let’s look at what was a memorable derby – unless you’re a Tottenham fan.

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In this match, both the teams had landed on the basis of poor form. Arsenal were winless in three matches before the derby, while Spurs had lost their last three games.

So, this match was about much more than just bragging rights – a win was needed to overcome their recent woes on the field.

Spurs had a mixed start under new manager Andre Vilas-Boas. The Portuguese, who last managed rivals Chelsea, has seen both incredible highs – beating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford – and lows, such as a loss to Newcastle United on the opening day.

Arsenal were also experiencing a mixed run of form. Normally a solid Top 4 contender at the time, they were 8th after 11 games and rumblings of discontent were beginning to be heard.

Thus, a lot was riding on this game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Emmanuel Adebayor scores but is sent off

Spurs, despite being the outside team in this encounter, actually started the game on the front foot. Early on, he carried the ball forward with confidence and seemed more likely to score first.

This is exactly what happened in the 10th minute. Jan Vertonghen fired a long ball into Arsenal’s area which caught the defense blinking.

Jermain Defoe was clear on goal but, from a tight angle, Wojciech Szczecny had his shot saved. However, former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor was on hand to tap in the rebound.

However, the adrenaline rush of scoring against his old team got the better of him in the 17th minute. Santi Cazorla receives the ball in wide position and Adebayor goes flying into the tackle. They got the player but not the ball.

Seeing that it was a two-foot tackle with both feet off the ground, he was duly sent off. And that’s when things got tough for Spurs.

Arsenal would then score three goals in quick succession. The first came after 7 minutes, when Theo Walcott beat Kyle Naughton and played in an attractive cross.

The ball hit the head of Per Mertesacker, whose powerful header leveled the score. It won’t be level for very long though. Towards the end of the first half, some excellent passing from the home side tore apart the Spurs’ defence.

Lukas Podolski was on hand to shoot, however his attempt was mistimed. But it did enough for Hugo Lloris to sneak past, and the Gunners were ahead.

More was to come before the half-time whistle. A quick run from Cazorla after Spurs had cleared a free-kick saw him lay it down for Olivier Giroud, who slotted home a simple finish.

Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur in a one-sided derby

Coming into the second half, Spurs had a mountain to climb. With two goals down and 10 men on the field, any chance of a result looked remote.

They sat deep for most of the second half, but the strategy didn’t work. A simple passing move put Podolski in space on the left wing. He squared the ball to finish off Cajorla and the match was now 4–1 in favor of the home team.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Arsenal big game without some wobbly moments. In the 71st minute, Gareth Bale ran through his defense and shot from distance with his right foot, finding the back of the net.

4-2 with 19 minutes left and suddenly we had a game in hand.

Arsenal, shocked by the sudden goal, seemed to fall deeper. Spurs, despite being 10 men, were now on the front foot and looked really close to getting one more.

However, Arsenal were able to hold on until injury time when they put the result to bed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up a loose pass from Vertonghen and broke free.

He passed the ball to Walcott, who finished with grit to seal the result once and for all.

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