Giroud gives Arsenal 1-0 derby win over Tottenham
LONDON (AP) — Olivier Giroud settled the first north London derby of the season on Sunday as Arsenal asserted its supremacy over Tottenham on the pitch with a 1-0 victory despite months of lavish spending by its neighbor.
Giroud turned the ball into the net from Theo Walcott’s cross in the 23rd minute, showing that goals are the only currency that counts in the Premier League.
“We didn’t give up and showed real togetherness,” Giroud said.
While Arsenal has only signed two free agents in the summer transfer window, which closes Monday, Tottenham has spent around 100 million pounds ($155 million) strengthening the squad — money recouped when Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid on Sunday for 100 million euros ($132 million).
“I am not against spending — I am ready to pay what we can afford, even if it is a bit over the market (value) and as long as it is not crazy,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I want to add super quality to our squad — or not (buy). Tottenham got a lot of money for Bale, they have to invest it — I understand that. The need is different for us, we need one or two super players and we will try to add that. We have 24 more hours, so maybe we can surprise you.”
Spurs’ expensive new recruits were frustrated in their route to the net, although goalkeeper Hugo Lloris restricted Arsenal to a single goal after 5-2 losses on the last two visits to the Emirates Stadium.
Tottenham, though, hasn’t managed to score from open play in three league matches so far, with the opening pair of victories gained through Roberto Soldado’s penalties.
“The fairest result would be a draw bearing in mind what we did in the second half,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “We put pressure on their goal, but there were not enough clear-cut chances.”
But Arsenal’s players, who faced intense criticism after opening the season with a shock home loss, have quickly recovered from collapsing to Aston Villa.
The relief was clear on Sunday, with players celebrating on the pitch as if a trophy had been won, and some throwing their shirts into the crowd.
Not only have they now won back-to-back Premier League matches, but a place in the lucrative Champions League group stage was secured via the playoffs last week.
It was Arsenal which edged out Tottenham to the fourth and final Champions League place on the last day of last season, prompting Spurs’ extravagant overhaul of its squad and the recruitment of a technical director at White Hart Lane.
Yet, the new faces have had to adapt quickly to playing alongside each other, and they still need more time to gel. Such cohesion was missing in the first half in particular at Arsenal.
Two free kicks were conceded on the edge of the penalty area alone in the opening five minutes, although Santi Cazorla saw one pushed clear and another was curled wide through the wall.
An Arsenal surge down the right flank produced the opener, with Tomas Rosicky releasing Walcott, whose cross was turned in by Giroud past defender Michael Dawson.
It was the first time Tottenham had conceded in its five games this season, including a pair of Europa League fixtures.
Lloris prevented Arsenal from extending its lead after another dangerous moment down the right saw Aaron Ramsey feed Walcott, only for the England winger to be denied at a tight angle.
This was the Gunners at their incisive best, sharper and slicker and enjoying more time on the ball.
When Spurs did encroach on the Arsenal goal, the resulting shots were too tame, with Andros Townsend striking low straight at goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
The resolute hosts avoided being unsettled by a blow just before half time when midfielder Jack Wilshere went off with a stomach bug and was replaced by Mathieu Flamini, who made his first appearance for Arsenal since April 2008 after returning last week.
It was a livelier second half from Tottenham, which applied more pressure on the Arsenal defense but Szczesny was never seriously tested.
Tottenham experienced its only injury setback when midfielder Etienne Capoue, who joined from Toulouse last month, was carried off on a stretcher after twisting his left fibula.
Tottenham was short of luck in front of goal, too. Soldado couldn’t find the net for a third successive game and when another new striker, Erik Lamela, came off the bench, he only managed to send a tame strike straight at Szczesny.
And Lloris spared Tottenham from a heavier loss by saving from Walcott.