Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
(Giroud 24)

Arsenal deservedly emerged on top in a north London derby of few chances, but an absorbing contest nonetheless. In so doing, they retained their formidable recent record against their north London rivals. Striker Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the match in the first half to ensure that Arsenal go into the international break in fourth place in the Premiership. Ultimately the France striker’s fourth goal of th season was to prove too good for Spurs.

For Arsenal, it is now four successive wins over their north London rivals , but importantly this was a victory that illustrated that even with the squad of players manager Arsene Wenger has at his disposal, they have the ability to make the impact where it matters. After the match, Wenger refused to rule out additions before the transfer window closes on Monday evening. Time is fast running out, however.

This was a bad day for Andre Villas-Boas’ side, who created few goal-scoring opportunities. With Gareth Bale’s confirmed departure to Real Madrid, this is a clearly a team in transition, and here they had their goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to thank for keeping them in the match.

“It was a very important game for us and a very convincing win in a very intense match,” said Wenger. “Their goalkeeper was the best player and that shows you the chances we had.

“I was relieved because in the end we did hang on and protected our score because we could not get the second goal. We had to dig deep to win in the end.”

Villas-Boas began with the same starting line-up that featured in the victory over Swansea City last week. That performance was a little restrained, but perhaps understandable given the number of new faces that have joined the Spurs ranks. He remained optimistic, despite the defeat, and was praiseworthy of his side.

“We had opportunities in the first half, they also started strong but I think we came back into the game very positively,” said the Spurs boss.

“The second half was very strong from us, it was a difficult encounter but I think we deserved something in the second half but Arsenal were clinical in front of goal. Probably a draw would have been a fair result.”

With Arsenal playing without a recognised player on the left wing, much of the threat in an enjoyable first half came from the opposite flank through Walcott. The England player demonstrated confidence in abundance. Around him, others excelled. Tomas Rosicky was a threat when in possession of the ball, as too was Santi Cazorla, who was clever and alert.

Arsenal took the lead on 23 minutes after a period of domination from Wenger’s men, with Giroud finishing a fine move with a superb finish from close range. The Frenchman slipped in ahead of Spurs defender Michael Dawson to apply a deft touch to Walcott’s low cross to beat Lloris at his near post. Lets not underestimate the importance of Per Mertersacker’s well timed block that set up the move for the Gunners’ goal.

Spurs came to the home of their rivals unbeaten in their last ten Premier League matches. However, Arsenal too were in strong form, and for much the first half, they dominated. After they took the lead, the home side looked even stronger. This was despite the injury-enforced absence of key players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Lukas Podolski.

For the visitors, it had been a difficult first half. Not only was it the first time that they had conceded a goal this season, but it had been one of their poorest performances of the season. In truth, they offered little in the final third of the pitch. Spurs spending has broken the £100 million (pounds) mark with their most recent purchases, but they clearly need time before we see their full potential.

Spanish striker Roberto Soldado, who had scored Spurs only league goals this season – both penalties – was starved of service, and was unable to create little. The only player to emerge with any credit was Andros Townsend.

The young winger tested Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczensy with two powerful strikes before the interval. However, he faded in the second half, and was replaced. Earlier, just before half time, Jack Wilshere was replaced by the returning Mathieu Flamini. Wenger later announced Wilshere came off due to illness and not injury. Playing his first Arsenal game since 2008, Flamini knows what this fixture means and his vocal and demonstrative actions towards his team-mates could yet prove to be the midfield catalyst Wenger has lacked in recent seasons.

Spurs’ supporters had little to cheer after the interval. With the game fast slipping away from Spurs, Villas-Boas brought on striker Jermain Defoe to join Soldado.

Shortly after, he introduced Sandro, to replace the injured Etienne Capoue, as well as new club record signing Eric Lamela. They were to have no impact, however, and despite applying some pressure to Arsenal’s back-line late on, they were unable to find the breakthrough.

Arsenal return to league action in two weeks when they travel to Sunderland. Wenger may yet add to his side.