The Togolese striker, who angered Arsenal fans when leaving for Manchester City in 2009 before this summer making a permanent transfer to Spurs after an initial loan, set up a typically hectic meeting at Emirates Stadium with the opener.
Adebayor’s goal added to his lack of popularity among Gunners fans following his controversial celebration three years ago for City when scoring in his first reunion with his ex-employers and then his penalty goal in last season’s ultimate repeat 5-2 defeat for Spurs.
But his emotions got the better of him shortly after the quarter-hour mark on Saturday and his red card for a lunge on Santi Cazorla allowed Arsenal to come back and win through Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Cazorla and Theo Walcott despite Gareth Bale’s consolation.
Tottenham started well and, less than a minute after a William Gallas effort was ruled out for offside, they took a 10th minute lead when Adebayor tapped in the rebound after Wojciech Szczesny, back after a two-month injury lay-off, could only palm a Jermain Defoe shot.
But Adebayor’s joy was short-lived, as, in the 18th minute, he was shown a straight red card by referee Howard Webb for a wild, studs-up sliding challenge on Cazorla, which sparked a melee between both sets of players.
Adebayor had let his team-mates down and, with a man disadvantage, they were only able to hold onto their lead for six minutes before Mertesacker’s excellent header from Walcott’s pinpoint cross opened the German’s account for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
The home side, dominating possession, cranked up the pressure and took the lead in the 42nd minute when a Podolski shot from inside the penalty area ricocheted off Gallas to strand Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was preferred ahead of Brad Friedel.
Things went from bad to worse for Tottenham in injury time before half-time when Giroud, who had earlier been denied from two headers by Lloris, slid in to meet Cazorla’s low cross and make it 3-1.
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, in charge of his first North London derby and now under greater pressure in his job after this latest defeat, sent on Clint Dempsey and Michael Dawson at half-time in place of full-backs Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton.
Arsenal, though, remained in the ascendency and, on the hour mark, Podolski’s excellent, passed cross from the left provided Cazorla a one-touch, right-foot finish at the back post to give his side a comfortable cushion.
Bale’s fine 20-yard finish, which arrowed into the bottom corner from his weaker right foot, in the 71st minute gave Spurs some hope but any thoughts of a comeback were already over long before Walcott made sure of the points in injury time.