Andre Villas-Boas says he does not feel let down by striker Emmanuel Adebayor despite his early sending off in the north London derby.

The Togolese forward was shown red before Tottenham slumped to a 5-2 defeat for the second time running at the Emirates.

Spurs controlled the early stages of the game and took the lead through former Arsenal striker ADebayor before he was sent off for a rash high challenge in the 17th minute.

Villas-Boas said: “These challenges happen in the game. The ref had a tough decision to make. I think it would have been a difficult decision had it been a yellow card and we accept it.

“It could have been any other player in any other game and these challenges happen. I think Ade was in full control of his emotions, he went for a challenge and in the north London derby you want players to go for challenges to win second balls, you want them to be strong, to be brave and that’s exactly what we were from the first minute to the last.”

Spurs conceded three before half time after the sending off and went 4-1 down after the break but Bale grabbed one back for the visitors, who squandered a good chance to make it 4-3.

Villas-Boas switched to a 3-5-1 formation in the second half in a bid to take the game to Arsenal but Tottenham were unable to claw back the deficit.

He said: “I think we were very good from the first minute to the last, with 11 men and ten men. The feeling of the result is indifferent for us when we played so well and we took the risk to be so bold and play three at the back.

“The feeling we have in the dressing room now is of pride for each other. It is not easy to play in this stadium but we did extremely well with 11 men and ten men.”

The momentum of the game shifted in Arsenal’s favour with Adebayor’s sending off but Villas-Boas claimed the red card was not the catalyst for his side’s capitulation.

He said: “I don’t think it changed the running of the game. We looked in control until ten minutes before half time, which for me were the decisive minutes of the game and the chance to go 4-3.

“The stadium wasn’t with the team and there was a nervousness around, but we couldn’t manage to get that one goal difference to attack a little bit more.

“I think we were in control from the first minute to the last. It is easy to go and play 20-25 passes against a team with ten men, playing three at the back, it is not a critique, it is something I respect, but it was not always like this.”

The result leaves Tottenham in eighth place in the Premier League, with home games against West Ham and Liverpool next.

Villas-Boas added: “We felt the circumstances of the game fell Arsenal’s way instead of ours. We certainly believe Arsenal were very efficient but we had possession and we certainly had our chances too. I’m extremely proud of the players.

“It puts us in a difficult position at the moment but we have plenty of chances to bounce back into the places we think we deserve to be.”