Arsenal recovered from two goals down to thrash Tottenham in an enthralling north London derby at Emirates Stadium.
Spurs - in the ascendancy over Arsenal for so much of the season - looked to be on course for the first back-to-back league wins at the home of their arch-rivals for 86 years as an early goal from Louis Saha and Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty put them in a commanding position within 34 minutes.
At 2-0 up Tottenham were in dreamland. But what a comeback, with five goals in an astonishing 27-minute-spell. It will not bring Arsenal any silverware but they may have found the road to redemption from an epic north London derby that ebbed, flowed and surged as this fixture often does. Arsenal have won back their pride.
But Arsenal, under so much scrutiny after their 4-0 Champions League thrashing against AC Milan in Italy and their FA Cup exit at Sunderland, mounted a comeback that combined resilience and character with dazzling attacking football to humiliate Harry Redknapp's side.
Bacary Sagna's header and a world-class strike from Robin van Persie put Arsenal level before the interval - and set up a second-half display that left Spurs beaten long before the end.
Tomas Rosicky put Arsenal in front just after the break and the rout was completed by a quickfire double from Theo Walcott, goals that silenced the taunts he suffered from his own supporters in the first half.
Spurs, who came from two goals behind to beat Arsenal 3-2 at Emirates Stadium last season, ended with 10 men when Scott Parker was sent off late on.
But the points had already been decided as Arsenal's reward came in the shape of this rousing victory and a place in the Premier League's top four.
It was the second time this season Arsenal hit five against a fellow London team, following their 5-3 victory over Chelsea in October.
Manager Arsene Wenger will take renewed confidence that his side can claim a Champions League place next season after the manner of this win, but the valid question will also remain about why Arsenal have produced such quality so rarely this season.
For Redknapp, with Football Association chairman David Bernstein in the stands as he continues the search for Fabio Capello's successor, this was a chastening afternoon.
The flair and strength that has characterised so much of Spurs's season was conspicuous by its absence as Arsenal threatened to extend their emphatic victory margin.
Redknapp will hope this will simply be an interruption to their impressive progress but he will have been horrified by the ease with which his side was dismantled.
Arsenal's confidence, perhaps fragile in the face of those damaging defeats, was hardly helped by the concession of such a cheap goal inside four minutes. They were left horribly exposed as referee Mike Dean played a fine advantage, allowing Kyle Walker and Adebayor to play in Saha, whose shot was deflected off Thomas Vermaelen over the wrong-footed Szczesny.
Top of the Premier League
* Correct at 26 February 2012
The Gunners, however, responded with real spirit as Van Persie sent a close-range shot so close that many Arsenal supporters celebrated prematurely and Rosicky's flicked header was superbly turned over by Brad Friedel.
Spurs, despite Arsenal's good reaction, looked to be cruising 11 minutes before the interval when referee Dean pointed to the spot as Gareth Bale tumbled theatrically under Szczesny's challenge as he pursued a pass of precision from Luka Modric.
Adebayor ignored the protests and jeers of Arsenal's fans to score coolly - but that was the end of the good news for Spurs.
Arsenal's response was ferociously committed, but Spurs collapsed with a speed - and on a scale - that will have startled Redknapp as much as it delighted Wenger.
Van Persie struck the post after being set up by Walcott, but the goal arrived seconds later as Sagna arrived at pace to send a thumping header beyond Friedel from Mikel Arteta's cross.
Arsenal's play was gathering an unstoppable momentum, epitomised by Van Persie's stunning finish, curled away from the diving Friedel two minutes before half-time.
Redknapp took strong action to halt the switch in fortunes, sending on Sandro and Rafael van der Vaart for Saha and Niko Kranjcar - but Spurs had already gone into terminal decline.
Arsenal were in the ascendancy, Friedel saving well from Yossi Benayoun before Rosicky was quicker than Ledley King to react to Sagna's cross and score at the near post after 50 minutes.
With Spurs reeling, Walcott struck twice inside three minutes to transform that early anxiety into a carnival atmosphere inside Emirates Stadium.
Walcott recovered from a poor first touch to send a neat finish past Friedel and was swiftly on target again as he scored with a low shot before being submerged by jubilant team-mates.
And to complete Spurs's misery, Parker was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for a foul on Vermaelen and he will now miss the game against Manchester United at White Hart Lane next Sunday. A day to forget for Redknapp - but one that might be of some significance for Wenger and Arsenal as they set their sights on fourth place.
- 13 Szczesny
- 03 Sagna
- 05 Vermaelen
- 06 Koscielny Booked
- 28 Gibbs (Jenkinson - 75' )
- 07 Rosicky
- 08 Arteta Booked
- 14 Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain - 81' )
- 17 Song
- 30 Benayoun (Gervinho - 88' )
- 10 Van Persie Booked
- 21 Fabianski
- 25 Jenkinson
- 49 Miquel
- 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 09 Park Chu-Young
- 27 Gervinho
- 29 Chamakh
- 24 Friedel
- 04 Kaboul
- 26 King (Dawson - 82' )
- 28 Walker
- 32 Assou-Ekotto
- 03 Bale
- 08 Parker Dismissed after an earlier booking
- 14 Modric Booked
- 21 Kranjcar (Van der Vaart - 46' )
- 10 Adebayor
- 15 Saha (Sandro - 46' Booked )
- 23 Cudicini
- 20 Dawson
- 07 Lennon
- 11 Van der Vaart
- 25 Rose
- 30 Sandro
- 18 Defoe
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.90:00 +3:08
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Younes Kaboul.90:00 +1:02
Raniere Sandro fouled by Yao Gervinho, the ref awards a free kick. Gareth Bale takes the direct free kick.89:12
Effort from just outside the area by Bacary Sagna goes over the bar.86:55
Alex Song restarts play with the free kick.86:55 Substitution
Substitution Yao Gervinho joins the action as a substitute, replacing Yossi Benayoun.86:55 Dismissal
Dismissal The referee shows Scott Parker a red card.86:50
Thomas Vermaelen fouled by Scott Parker, the ref awards a free kick.85:33
Alex Song concedes a free kick for a foul on Scott Parker. Rafael Van der Vaart takes the free kick.85:13
Centre by Kyle Walker, Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.84:51
The assistant referee signals for offside against Emmanuel Adebayor. Laurent Koscielny takes the indirect free kick.81:48 Substitution
Substitution Ledley King goes off and Michael Dawson comes on.80:59 Substitution
Substitution Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on in place of Theo Walcott.77:57
Luka Modric restarts play with the free kick.77:57 Booking
Booking Robin van Persie receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.77:48
Foul by Robin van Persie on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, free kick awarded.77:20
Gareth Bale takes a short corner.76:42
Effort from just outside the area by Scott Parker goes over the bar.76:18
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Rafael Van der Vaart, Carl Jenkinson makes a clearance.76:01
Unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Carl Jenkinson results in a free kick. Scott Parker takes the direct free kick.
Tomas Rosicky produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.74:27 Substitution
Substitution Carl Jenkinson comes on in place of Kieran Gibbs.74:27
Shot by Gareth Bale from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.73:04
Free kick awarded for a foul by Laurent Koscielny on Emmanuel Adebayor. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Rafael Van der Vaart.71:52
Theo Walcott fouled by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the ref awards a free kick. Bacary Sagna takes the free kick.71:12
Rafael Van der Vaart produces a cross, Kieran Gibbs makes a clearance. Raniere Sandro takes a shot. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny.70:47
Outswinging corner taken by Rafael Van der Vaart from the left by-line, clearance by Alex Song.69:36
Free kick awarded for a foul by Emmanuel Adebayor on Bacary Sagna. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.68:47
Corner taken by Rafael Van der Vaart, Alex Song manages to make a clearance.67:15
Assist by Alex Song.67:15 Goal scored
Goal! - Theo Walcott - Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham Theo Walcott grabs a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham.65:53
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Raniere Sandro by Tomas Rosicky. Free kick taken by Ledley King.64:30
The assist for the goal came from Robin van Persie.64:30 Goal scored
Goal! - Theo Walcott - Arsenal 4 - 2 Tottenham Theo Walcott scores a goal from close in to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham.60:44
Mikel Arteta delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, Luka Modric gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta. Mikel Arteta produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, blocked by Ledley King. Pass corner from right by-line crossed in by Robin van Persie, save by Brad Friedel.60:44 Booking
Booking Raniere Sandro goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.60:38
Raniere Sandro concedes a free kick for a foul on Robin van Persie.59:50
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Raniere Sandro. Mikel Arteta takes the direct free kick.57:59
Kyle Walker fouled by Tomas Rosicky, the ref awards a free kick. Younes Kaboul restarts play with the free kick.57:02
Shot by Theo Walcott from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.55:31
Effort from deep inside the area by Robin van Persie misses to the left of the goal.54:53
Rafael Van der Vaart is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick.52:33
Corner taken by Rafael Van der Vaart from the left by-line, clearance made by Robin van Persie.50:08
Assist on the goal came from Bacary Sagna.50:08 Goal scored
Goal! - Tomas Rosicky - Arsenal 3 - 2 Tottenham Tomas Rosicky gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 3-2 Tottenham.47:44
Yossi Benayoun concedes a free kick for a foul on Kyle Walker. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.46:25
Yossi Benayoun takes a shot. Save made by Brad Friedel. Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Alex Song takes a shot. Brad Friedel makes a save.46:00
Foul by Emmanuel Adebayor on Alex Song, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Alex Song.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Raniere Sandro on for Louis Saha.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Rafael Van der Vaart is brought on as a substitute for Niko Kranjcar.45:00 +3:13 Half time
Half Time The match has reached half-time.45:00 +2:11
Gareth Bale delivers the ball.42:27
The assist for the goal came from Alex Song.42:27 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Arsenal 2 - 2 Tottenham Robin van Persie finds the net with a goal from outside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham.41:33
Benoit Assou-Ekotto restarts play with the free kick.41:33 Booking
Booking Mikel Arteta receives a caution.41:28
Mikel Arteta gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gareth Bale.41:08
Emmanuel Adebayor gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alex Song. Alex Song restarts play with the free kick.39:53
The assist for the goal came from Mikel Arteta.39:53 Goal scored
Goal! - Bacary Sagna - Arsenal 1 - 2 Tottenham Bacary Sagna scores a headed goal from deep inside the penalty area. Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham.39:47
Robin van Persie has an effort at goal from inside the penalty box that bounces off the post. Mikel Arteta produces a cross,39:35
Tomas Rosicky delivers the ball.38:10
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.36:34
Emmanuel Adebayor gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bacary Sagna. Direct free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.36:23
Gareth Bale takes a shot from 20 yards. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny.33:15
Assist on the goal came from Gareth Bale.33:15 Goal scored
Goal! - Emmanuel Adebayor - Arsenal 0 - 2 Tottenham Emmanuel Adebayor scores a power penalty. Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham.31:33
Foul by Wojciech Szczesny on Gareth Bale, Penalty awarded.30:35
Benoit Assou-Ekotto takes the direct free kick.30:35 Booking
Booking Laurent Koscielny shown a yellow card.30:31
Unfair challenge on Niko Kranjcar by Laurent Koscielny results in a free kick.29:13
Mikel Arteta restarts play with the free kick. Effort from 25 yards by Mikel Arteta.29:13 Booking
Booking Scott Parker goes into the book.28:53 Booking
Booking Luka Modric goes into the referee's book for dissent.28:47
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robin van Persie by Scott Parker.27:12
The ball is swung over by Bacary Sagna, clearance by Kyle Walker. Mikel Arteta takes the inswinging corner, Louis Saha manages to make a clearance.23:56
Emmanuel Adebayor takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny. Kyle Walker has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.23:39
The ball is sent over by Bacary Sagna, clearance by Scott Parker.20:55
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Younes Kaboul. Inswinging corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line played to the near post, Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel. Inswinging corner taken by Mikel Arteta from the left by-line, Louis Saha makes a clearance.20:32
A cross is delivered by Kieran Gibbs, clearance by Ledley King.18:26
The ball is crossed by Gareth Bale, Header on goal by Niko Kranjcar from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.17:14
Theo Walcott concedes a free kick for a foul on Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Benoit Assou-Ekotto takes the direct free kick.14:31
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Younes Kaboul gets a block in. Robin van Persie produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.13:42
Mikel Arteta concedes a free kick for a foul on Gareth Bale. Free kick taken by Scott Parker.11:51
Bacary Sagna challenges Gareth Bale unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Luka Modric, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.11:03
Thomas Vermaelen produces a left-footed shot from 35 yards and went wide right of the net.10:30
Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Scott Parker gets a block in.9:52
Benoit Assou-Ekotto challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Bacary Sagna restarts play with the free kick.8:46
Mikel Arteta takes a inswinging corner to the near post.7:10
Foul by Emmanuel Adebayor on Laurent Koscielny, free kick awarded. Laurent Koscielny takes the direct free kick.5:17
The ball is sent over by Gareth Bale, blocked by Emmanuel Adebayor.3:51
The assist for the goal came from Emmanuel Adebayor.3:51 Goal scored
Goal! - Louis Saha - Arsenal 0 - 1 Tottenham Goal scored by Louis Saha from inside the box low into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham.0:12
Scott Parker fouled by Mikel Arteta, the ref awards a free kick. Luka Modric restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The match gets underway.
Live data and text provided by our data suppliers