Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA defining 45 minutes for Gunners' fans - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A defining 45 minutes for Gunners' fans - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A defining 45 minutes for Gunners’ fans

Both Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have taken their fair share of criticism since their humiliating 4-0 defeat in the Champions League against AC Milan. Some has been entirely justifiable; some has been the stereotypical overhyped media response.

Indeed, when Arsenal’s archenemy Emmanuel Adebayor struck midway through the first half of a thrilling North London derby to put Tottenham 2-0 up, the vultures circling Wenger and his players were preparing for a feast of huge proportions.

The turnaround in the second half, which demonstrated that Arsenal can still play free flowing football which brings rewards, can be seen as a landmark moment in Wenger’s tenure.

Not only did it remind those watching that Arsenal can seldom be written off, it also edged them closer to their rivals in the battle for North London supremacy and temporarily secured the coveted final Champions League spot.

Any type of win would have appeased those packed into the Emirates but the scale of the 5-2 victory ensures that confidence will be surging through the entire playing squad, staff and supporters.

Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott excelled as Arsenal dominated the midfield battle. Rarely have either of these two put in the performances expected of them, often flattering to deceive.

Again Robin van Persie underlined his importance and the news that contract talks have been shelved until the summer will only serve to increase tensions that he may follow Samir Nasri and leave on a free transfer.

It is now crucial that Wenger builds on this performance and lays the foundations for what could still be a battle with Spurs for third place. For all of Wenger’s talk over the years that his players would mature with age they have yet to be moulded into a team capable of winning trophies.

What will please the Arsenal faithful is the proof that their team can beat genuine title contenders, and the new landscape that Harry Redknapp had started to structure in London has at least been momentarily halted.

Redknapp’s fondness for attacking football was perhaps Spurs’ downfall, although it is hard to argue against his set-up and methods which have served Spurs so well until now. Their title challenge is by no means over but it would take a monumental effort to overhaul both Manchester clubs.

He may have to settle for third position but his impact at White Hart Lane has been akin to that of Wenger’s during his initial years in English football. If Redknapp does leave for the England job, he will leave a club that is prepared to fight for the position of London’s top club for seasons to come.

Wenger has been doing just that for 13 years and at 2-0 down on Sunday afternoon it appeared that he was losing the battle.

The following 45 minutes could yet be seen as the defining moments of Arsenal’s season. The marker has been laid down. It is now up to Wenger’s charges to break the stereotypes that have plagued them for seven years.

Gary Peters

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