Alexis Sanchez’s equaliser earned 10-man Arsenal an important point as Spurs missed the opportunity to go top of the Premier League in the north London derby at White Hart Lane.
Aaron Ramsey’s instinctive flick gave Arsenal the lead just before the interval – but the game looked to have turned in the space of seven minutes before the hour.
Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin was sent off on 55 minutes after being shown a second yellow card for a foul on Harry Kane, leaving the door open for Spurs to respond with two quick goals.
Toby Alderweireld scored at the far post before Kane curled in a magnificent angled right-foot finish after 62 minutes to put Spurs in command.
But Arsenal refused to back down and equalised 14 minutes from time when Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris let Sanchez’s shot squirm through his grasp.
In contrast Arsenal’s David Ospina, in for the injured Petr Cech, was heroic with outstanding saves from Erik Lamela, Kane and Christian Eriksen.
Relief for Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s plight could be measured in the amount of cameras that greeted him as he arrived in the technical area before kick-off – the natural indicator of either a new manager or a man under pressure.
Wenger fell into the latter category after damaging league defeats by Manchester United and Swansea City, but he will have left White Hart Lane a satisfied man.
Defeat would have turned up the pressure another notch, pushing that first title since 2003-04’s ‘Invincibles’ season even further out of reach.
Instead, he will have been happier than his Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino and will feel Arsenal have restored some equilibrium to a season that felt on the brink of implosion.
The Gunners are still in a reasonable position to challenge for the title – and Wenger would have taken that before kick-off.
Arsenal’s show of character
Arsenal faced the usual questions – fully justified it should be said – about their stomach for a fight after succumbing to a youthful and injury-hit Manchester United and Swansea City in the past six days.
If there was ever a place to at least answer some of the questions it was on hostile territory at White Hart Lane. And they emerged with credit.
The tide was flowing fast against them after Coquelin drew a stupid yellow card. It would have been easy to feel it was not their day but the Gunners hung in and their persistence was rewarded.
Wenger may feel his side might have gone on to win had they not been left with a numerical disadvantage – and they had a genuine grievance when referee Michael Oliver inexplicably failed to give Spurs’ Eric Dier a second yellow card for a crude shirt-pull on Olivier Giroud.
In many respects, this game was about avoiding defeat for Arsenal and they dug deep to stop the rot.
Spurs miss a big chance
Spurs could have no complaints when they lost at West Ham United on Wednesday. They were beaten by the better side, something that will happen in the fierce competition of the Premier League.
It was a case of not too much harm done with Arsenal and Manchester City also losing – but here they missed a real opportunity.
Spurs had that precious lead with Arsenal on the back foot and reduced to 10 men. All the momentum was with them as White Hart Lane sensed their old rivals were there for the taking.
Instead, with Lloris the culprit and Gunners understudy Ospina superb, they let Arsenal back in.
The chance to go top of the table, even for a few hours, was gone and while they remain three points ahead of their rivals in second place, Spurs will feel they should have extended the advantage.
Man of the match – David Ospina
The stats you need to know
- Tottenham have lost just one of their past eight Premier League games against the Gunners at White Hart Lane (W4 D3 L1)
- There have been 137 goals scored in this fixture in the Premier League; more than any other fixture in the competition
- Harry Kane has now scored 14 goals in 18 Premier League London derbies
- David Ospina made nine saves in this match for Arsenal, the most by a Gunners’ goalkeeper in a Premier League game since Lukasz Fabianski (also 9) v Liverpool in April 2009