LONDON — Arsenal scored three goals in the second half to come from behind to beat Tottenham 4-2 in a dramatic north London derby on Sunday that saw clashes between players, fans lighting flares and throwing projectiles onto the field, two penalties and a red card.
The Gunners extended their unbeaten run to 19 games and moved back into the Premier League’s top four.
“It’s a very big victory,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said. “We gave our supporters an important victory. It’s special for us too. But above all it’s three points.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a penalty in the 10th minute to put the Gunners ahead at the Emirates Stadium. A Tottenham supporter was arrested for throwing a banana skin onto the field after Aubameyang scored and celebrated in front of away fans.
Arsenal then dominated play for most of the first half before Spurs turned the game around with two goals in four minutes for a 2-1 halftime lead.
But Aubameyang equalized in the 56th, with a beautiful curling shot before substitute Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira sent the home fans into a frenzy with goals of their own in the 74th and 77th. Fans lit flares in the stands after the last two goals.
For Torreira, it was his first Arsenal goal since signing over the summer and he ripped off his shirt and ran to the corner to celebrate. It was a visible indication of how much the match meant to the Arsenal players.
The Gunners moved above their London rivals on goal difference into fourth place in the Premier League with 30 points.
After his first north London derby, Emery urged his players not to get carried away with the victory, and for them to focus on a “very difficult” game against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
He said that Arsenal and Spurs are equal, despite his team’s superior goal difference.
“We are both together, 30 points in the table,” Emery said.
Jan Vertonghen was sent off in the 85th after a second yellow card was shown for a challenge on Lacazette.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino felt the red card was harsh.
“I think it was unlucky,” he said. “He (Vertonghen) touched the ball, and it’s impossible when you are running like that to the ball and then stop. He wanted to touch the ball. It was a dangerous action. But it was unlucky because he touched the ball.”
Vertonghen picked up his first caution for a handball in the penalty area from a free kick. Aubameyang scored the resulting penalty in the 10th and did a front flip to celebrate his goal and ran toward the Spurs supporters, but he wasn’t shown a yellow card. Projectiles were thrown on the pitch from the away section after Aubameyang approached.
Arsenal threatened to score more goals in the first half, but their finishing let them down. Spurs then shocked the home crowd, scoring twice in four minutes.
Heung-Min Son won a free kick on the left, with TV replays appearing to show that there was little contact. Christian Eriksen’s resulting free kick in the 30th found Eric Dier, whose header beat Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno at his near post too easily for an equalizer.
Dier then ran over to one of the corners to celebrate his goal in front of the home fans, putting his fingers to his lips. A scuffle broke out between Arsenal and Spurs players, with some home fans throwing water bottles and other projectiles onto the pitch. Dier was eventually booked for his goal celebration.
Pochettino ran toward the fracas, which appeared to start when Arsenal substitutes warming up on the sidelines clashed with Dier and other Spurs players during their celebrations.
“It was to try to put calm,” Pochettino said. “There was a massive fight there and I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what happened. My intention was always to put calm.”
Four minutes later, Son went over in the penalty area and referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot for the second time in the match. Replays appeared to show that there was little, if any, contact on Son from Arsenal defender Rob Holding — and both sets of players clashed again. But Harry Kane kept his cool and stepped up to the spot to slot the ball home with Leno diving the wrong way in the 34th.
Emery gambled by making a double substitution at the start of the second half, putting on Aaron Ramsey and Lacazette. It paid off, with both playing crucial roles in the comeback.
Spurs faded after Arsenal went ahead and, by the end, the home team was passing the ball around casually to run down the clock.
“The game was very competitive. But when we conceded the third goal, I think it was tough for us to come back mentally,” Pochettino said, pointing to a busy eight days playing Chelsea in the league and Inter Milan in the Champions League.
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