Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas refused to condemn Emmanuel Adebayor or his side's defending despite watching them crash to a 5-2 north London derby drubbing at Arsenal.
It was deja vu for Spurs in Villas-Boas' first visit to the Emirates Stadium as they went down 5-2 there for the second time in nine months. They also had a man sent off and this time it cost them dearly as Adebayor pushed the self destruct button shortly after putting them 1-0 up against his former club.
However, Villas-Boas repeatedly sidestepped questions about the former Gunners striker, even claiming Tottenham "were in control from the first minute to the last minute". When pressed on the red card - shown for a studs-up challenge on Santi Cazorla - Villas-Boas had no complaints with it but also refused to criticise his player.
Insisting the striker had nothing to apologise for, Villas-Boas said: "Ade went into the challenge not to harm Cazorla. Cazorla is quick, he reacted, he took the ball away before Ade's feet met his foot and the ref has to make a decision and he decided for the red card.
"We understand that it could've been any other player on any other day. This is football and challenges like this happen."
Despite the thrashing, Villas-Boas was adamant Spurs had not been outplayed.
"We were very, very good from the first minute to the last, with 11 men and with 10 men," he added after what was his side's fourth league defeat in five matches. "The feeling of the result is indifferent for us when we played so well and we took the risk in the second half to be so bold and play with three at the back. Men against men."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could afford to make light of Villas-Boas' claims after watching his side leapfrog Spurs in the table into sixth place. "Look, if our opponents are in control from the first to the last minute and we win 5-2, I don't mind too much," he said. "We have won games with 10 men and lost games with 10 men."
Arsenal swept into a 3-1 lead before half-time through Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud and the outstanding Cazorla made it 4-1 before Gareth Bale pulled a goal back. Theo Walcott then completed the rout as the Gunners took full advantage of Adebayor's moment of madness.
"It changed certainly the game because Adebayor had a good start and was lively," Wenger said. "But what do I make of it? It's not rose, it's not yellow, it's red."