Although the League Cup is only the third most important domestic trophy of the year for a Premier League club, there are occasions when a win is vital. One such occasion is when the tournament pits you against your bitter rivals, as it did on this day in 2007 when Arsenal met Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals.
To this date, Spurs had beaten their fellow North Londoners just once in 23 attempts and fans of the Gunners had every intention of making sure it did not become two in 24. Arsene Wenger is no stranger to the importance of a derby win, but even so he opted to stick with a largely youthful and reserve lineup that had served him so well in previous rounds.
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This meant starts for the likes of Justin Hoyte, Philippe Senderos, Jeremie Aliadiere and Julio Baptista against what was a strong Spurs lineup from Martin Jol, led by Dimitar Berbatov and marshalled at the back by Michael Dawson. Arsenal had the slight advantage of playing the away leg first, but they did not start in the same manner that they had in previous rounds.
No fewer than two of the more experienced Arsenal players could be blamed for their part in Spurs' opening goal. Pascal Chimbonda initially passed the ball to the lively Jermain Defoe, who worked his way into space to cross. Both Kolo Toure and Manuel Almunia left it, then looked at each other as Berbatov nodded in the opener.
It got much worse for Arsenal before it got better, and this time their eventual saviour Baptista was involved in completely the wrong way. Tom Huddlestone's danger from a dead-ball is well known, but even so there was nothing much Baptista could have done instead of direct the ball past Almunia trying to head away. It went down as an own goal and the home fans, who had to wait an extra 15 minutes before kickoff, were confident of witnessing the elusive Spurs win against the Gunners.
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Finally Arsenal came into the game. Theo Walcott was becoming a danger with his pace, which was creating space for Baptista to break forward from in behind Aliadiere. He had his first chance just before the break as a corner fell gloriously into his path, but the big Brazilian somehow managed to get it stuck under his feet and was unable to shoot.
It was a first half to forget for Baptista, but just as he showed against Liverpool where he scored four goals, there was a lot of ability inside the large frame. The equaliser was typical Baptista. Few players could go past defenders as if they were not there like the former Sevilla man, and he muscled his way into the box before playing a one-two with Walcott and rolling the ball in.
There was nothing Paul Robinson could have done about the opener, but there were large question marks over the goalkeeper's decision to come out to close down Hoyte, which allowed the right-back an easy cut-back for Baptista to turn in his side's second. The second-half turnaround was enough for Arsenal to deserve something from the game and now all they needed to do was win at home in the return leg.
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It needed extra time for the Gunners to overcome Spurs at the Emirates, but they were not to go all the way as they fell to Chelsea at the final hurdle. Wenger stuck with his young side all the way and only the power of Didier Drogba in the final undid them in the end. On this day, however, Arsenal made sure that Spurs kept waiting for an elusive win against them.