Emmanuel Adebayor might have thought that he had heard it all in terms of abuse from the terraces. It does not get much worse than hearing your mother and father defamed in the most vitriolic fashion. Or maybe it does?

The Arsenal supporters were always likely to try to get under the skin of their former striker, whose presence in the lily white of Tottenham Hotspur represented the most serious of affronts, yet they managed to excel themselves when they wished that he had died in a gun massacre.

"It should have been you, it should have been you," they sang, at regular intervals in the first-half. "Shot in Angola. It should have been you."

Adebayor will forever be haunted by the terrorist attack on the Togo team bus in January of last year, in which three people were killed. He knows that if he had been sitting two rows further forward, it could have been him. It was charming, then, of the travelling fans to remind him of the trauma and it offered further proof that simply nothing is off-limits in the modern game.

Before the Tottenham crowd feel that they have any claim to the moral high ground, they should remember that it was them who abused Adebayor last season, when he was on loan at Real Madrid. And they gave plenty of airings here to the despicable chant about Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager.

Adebayor poured out the emotion when he set up Rafael van der Vaart for the opening goal with a floated pass. There was no repeat of the infamously provocative celebration from September 2009, when he ran the length of the pitch to slide on his knees in front of the Arsenal supporters after scoring for Manchester City. Instead, there was a frenzied bout of fist pumping and the brief fear that he might self-combust.

But it was easy to wonder whether the simmering fury that he felt had played any part in his gilt-edged miss in the 58th minute. Adebayor had displayed ruthless instincts in his first three matches in Tottenham colours but they deserted him when he was played clean through by Gareth Bale. His finish, when one-on-one with Wojciech Szczesny, was hesitant and the goalkeeper got down to block.

Adebayor and everyone connected to Tottenham could offer their heart-felt thanks to Kyle Walker who, like Danny Rose before him, picked some occasion and some manner to score his first goal for the club.

Rose's once-in-a-lifetime rocket in the White Hart Lane derby two season ago will arguably never be topped but Walker's have-a-go-hero effort from long-range was in the same ballpark. It was viciously struck and swerving but Szczesny blamed himself for not saving it.

The bile from the stands provided the undercurrent to the latest adrenaline‑fuelled instalment of this grudge fixture, in which Tottenham served notice of their intent to knock Arsenal from the perch that they have occupied in north London for so long.

Under Harry Redknapp, Tottenham's Premier League record against their bitter rivals now reads: W3 D3 L1. They had entered the game as the hot favourites, which was telling in itself and, five points clear of Arsenal and with a game in hand, the challenge for them is to build on the advantage.

They look capable of doing so and not only because this Arsenal team appear there for the taking whenever they leave the Emirates Stadium. This was a third consecutive away league defeat and their fourth in total; last season, their fourth league defeat came in mid-December.

Redknapp could be delighted with the performance of the club captain Ledley King, for whom this was a fourth league start in succession. The defender is a one‑man guide to the defiance of science. In front of him, Scott Parker revelled in the derby mayhem and Bale was powerful and spectacular. Arsenal felt that they were worth a draw yet the hard luck stories are becoming repetitive.

Wenger will point, with justification, to Arsenal's presence in the Champions League group stage for the 14th season in succession while Tottenham can only dream of such consistency. And this was only his fifth derby defeat in 15 years and 37 games. He has said that the season is young and judgment must be reserved but the gap between the clubs is closing. Wenger departed in a fury, after a petty squabble with the Tottenham coach Clive Allen. For him, the soul‑searching goes on.