Emmanuel Adebayor went from Tottenham Hotspur's hero to zero against former club Arsenal as he scored and was then sent off in a dramatic 5-2 North London derby defeat.
The striker's emotions got the better of him shortly after the quarter-hour mark at Emirates Stadium and his red card allowed Arsenal to come back and win through Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott despite Gareth Bale's consolation.
Wojciech Szczesny returned in goal for Arsenal after a two-month lay-off while Giroud, Walcott and Mikel Arteta all overcame injury concerns to start.
Tottenham put faith in Hugo Lloris ahead of veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel. Andre Villas-Boas also kept to his word and unleashed former Gunner Adebayor up front in partnership with Jermain Defoe. The selection of Adebayor backfired, as, despite opening the scoring, he was correctly sent off in the 18th minute for his wild lunge on Cazorla. A knee injury to Steven Caulker meant Kyle Naughton was drafted in at left-back.
Arsenal played their familiar 4-3-3 line-up with Giroud as the central striker and Walcott and Podolski on the flanks. Jack Wilshere, Arteta and Cazorla formed the midfield three. With Kieran Gibbs absent, captain Thomas Vermaelen was again forced to play at left-back. Contract rebel Walcott had a decent game, tormenting Naughton in the first half, and was a constant outlet, before also setting up Mertesacker's equaliser.
Tottenham opted to start with a traditional 4-4-2 formation and tried to get the ball to Aaron Lennon on the right of midfield to use his pace against Vermaelen as often as possible. But the red card of Adebayor, who let his team down, meant they had to sacrifice a lot of possession and also revert to Defoe as a lone striker.
Arsenal's first change saw Aaron Ramsey replace Wilshere, who is still working his way back to full fitness. Podolski and Giroud both went off in the final 10 minutes, when Arsene Wenger offered the pair the chance for standing ovations after good performances. Andre Santos and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the men to come on.
Tottenham's first two changes were forced upon them, with Kyle Walker, who missed midweek international duty through injury, and Naughton going off at half-time in a tactical reshuffle. Clint Dempsey and Michael Dawson came on but it made little difference. Villas-Boas used his final change to send on Tom Carroll in place of Tom Huddlestone in the 72nd minute.
Howard Webb is the man for the big occasion and was selected for the North London derby for this reason. The match official had little choice but to send off Adebayor and otherwise let the game flow. In what was a fiery first half, there was a danger the game could have boiled over. But Webb kept on top of things. Podolski, Sandro and Lennon received later bookings.
Cazorla was again the man of the match for Arsenal and made his side tick. The Spaniard was magnificent in the heart of midfield, scoring and creating goals, and gave a masterclass in how to take advantage of playing against 10 men. Podolski and Giroud also deserve a mention for committed performances.
No Tottenham player can really hold their head high. Lloris produced a few eye-catching saves, particularly against Giroud. But he still conceded five goals. William Gallas, another former Arsenal player, had a wretched game and will not have fond memories of this match.
There were things to admire about Arsenal. But they still showed glimpses of their limitations, particularly in defence. If it had not been for Adebayor's red card, the result could have been very different. Wenger will know improvements are still needed ahead of the crucial UEFA Champions League meeting with Montpellier on Wednesday.
The pressure is mounting on Villas-Boas after three defeats in four Premier League matches and critics are questioning his position as manager. Spurs can at least hope for better performances in their next two league games, at home to West Ham United and Liverpool.