Spurs stand strong against late Arsenal onslaught
After a disappointing draw on Merseyside, hopes were pinned on north London to provide the fireworks and entertainment on this much anticipated double derby day. Neither hosts Arsenal nor visitors Tottenham could manage to snatch a winner, however.
Instead, the two capital club rivals reluctantly settled for a share of the spoils in a game peppered with misplaced passes and spurned chances. The match was equal parts scrappy and entertaining, though far from a classic.
Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was star of the show for the hosts, appearing both graceful and powerful with his continual bursts forward. A consistent wide threat, the England international’s persistence paid off as he latched onto a loose ball and leveled by firing high into the net midway through the second half.
In promising signs for Three Lions fans as well as Gunners, Calum Chambers linked up excellently with fellow former Southampton graduate Chamberlain. Restored to his natural position at right back, the 19-year-old England cap received his fourth yellow card this term, but also supplied real attacking menace.
The Gunners had started the game with intent, limiting Spurs to chances on the break. Mauricio Pochettino had set his side up for this, despite insisting they would be adventurous, with Christian Eriksen shackled in a wider role than usual.
Tottenham eventually grew in confidence, but would come to rue a raft of missed opportunities, with Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Chadli the main culprits.
Arsenal began the second half brightly, but suffered a setback after Eriksen picked dawdling Mathieu Flamini’s pocket. Erik Lamela put Chadli through on goal, and the Belgian made the most of his second chance, sliding the ball past Wojciech Szczesny with aplomb.
The Gunners responded immediately, but Spurs managed to stay resolute, with new captain Younes Kaboul illustrating just why he was handed the armband. Easily Tottenham’s man of the match, commanding Kaboul snuffed out the relentless Arsenal attacks, repelling cross after cross and corner after corner.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez seemed to give Arsenal a shot in the arm, and with two goals in his last two Premier League games, it was surprising not to see him start. However, the Chilean was involved in the build-up to the equaliser, playing in fellow sub Santi Cazorla, who fluffed his lines.
Danny Welbeck then failed to connect with the ball, tangling himself up in knots before the chance eventually fell to Chamberlain, who was more than happy to capitalise on his teammates’ mishaps.
After finally beating impressive Spurs stopper Hugo Lloris, Arsene Wenger’s men increased in urgency, sniffing a potential winner. It never came, as the Gunners failed to make the most of their set pieces, adding insult to the injuries picked up by Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey.
Tottenham, now 7/2 chances with Coral for a top four finish, could breathe a sigh of relief, enjoying their reprieve as the whistle went, and took home a point well-earned. Both sides will mull over missed chances, but the impetus was on Arsenal, who, for all their attempts on goal, will view the result as two points lost.