Tomas Rosicky fired Arsenal back into the English Premier League title race as the Czech midfielder's quick-fire strike clinched a crucial 1-0 win over north London rivals Tottenham. Arsene Wenger's side began the weekend seven points behind Chelsea, but they moved to within four points of the leaders -- with a game in hand -- thanks to Rosicky's winner after just 72 seconds.
The Czech midfielder's goal, and the gritty defensive display that followed it, secured Arsenal's first league win at White Hart Lane since 2007 in Wenger's 999th match in charge. The third placed Gunners feared their title challenge was fading after a defeat at Stoke, but they are firmly back in the race and a titanic encounter against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea side looming at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
Tottenham's third successive defeat was harsh on Tim Sherwood's fifth-placed team, who look to have blown their chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League via a top-four finish. Arsenal had already defeated their hated neighbours twice this season and they were quickly back in the ascendancy thanks to a virtuoso contribution from the man nicknamed 'the little Mozart'.
Rosicky was only playing because of an injury to the club's record signing Mesut Ozil, but he took less than two minutes to make a more decisive contribution than the German has managed for months. Rosicky seized possession near the halfway line after a Tottenham attack broke down and surged forward with real intent.
Tottenham were caught short-handed at the back and the Czech picked out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the edge of the penalty area. Oxlade-Chamberlain couldn't control the ball, but it rolled fortuitously back to Rosicky and, although the angle didn't suggest the shot was on, he unleashed a ferocious half-volley that flashed into the top corner past the stunned Hugo Lloris.
Rosicky continues goalscoring form against rivals
It was just Rosicky's third club goal of the season, but Spurs will be sick of the sight of the 33-year-old, who also scored against them in the FA Cup third round. Rosicky was pulling the strings and he produced a perfectly-weighted pass to put Oxlade-Chamberlain clean through on goal, but the midfielder chipped woefully wide with just Lloris to beat.
Tottenham threatened for the first time when Andros Townsend whipped over a teasing cross that just eluded Emmanuel Adebayor. That provided a much-needed jolt of adrenaline for the hosts, who had made a lethargic start in unseasonably warm temperatures.
The mercury rose even higher when Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna escaped with only a booking from referee Mike Dean after clattering Danny Rose with a crude lunge. Tottenham should have been level just after half-time when Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a hash of a routine cross.
Szczesny tried to catch the ball one-handed but instead fumbled it to Nacer Chadli, yet Arsenal escaped as the Belgian winger shot tamely at Laurent Koscielny with the goal at his mercy. Sherwood questioned his players' character after their thrashing at Chelsea last weekend, but he could have no complaints here.
Spurs were the dominant force and they went close twice in quick succession. First Chadli flicked wide from Townsend's low delivery, then Adebayor rose highest to meet Nabil Bentaleb's cross but couldn't hit the target with his header.
The hosts kept pressing for an equaliser, but Arsenal, superbly marshalled by Koscielny, threw enough bodies in the way to repel the assault.