Arsenal missed out on the chance to go into the international break top of the Premier League standings, and could well find themselves down in fourth place if results continue to go against them today after being held to a far from attractive 1-1 draw in a disappointing London derby.
Tottenham came to the Emirates today and lined up in a 5-3-2 formation, a decision which seems to have caught Arsenal completely off guard. As a result, Tottenham bossed the ball and created the better chances in opening half hour as the Gunners struggled to get in the game and get their passing game going.
The only positive for Arsenal in that opening 30 minutes was that they didn’t concede a goal, despite Harry Kane getting in some good positions.
Arsenal enjoyed their best spell of the game in the closing 15 minutes of the first half. Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi spurned half-chances, while Theo Walcott hit the post, beating Hugo Lloris for pace. Arsenal finally made the possession count as Kevin Wimmer nodded home a Mesut Ozil freekick into his own goal to give Arsenal the half-time lead.
Tottenham were perhaps a little unlucky with the goal as several Arsenal players were in an offside position when Wimmer rose to meet the cross, but the goal stood.
Arsenal were not on top for long though as Moussa Dembele won his side a slightly contentious penalty early in the second period. It was one of those decisions that looked soft and another Referee on another day might not have awarded it. Arsenal were predictably aggrieved as they felt they should have had a penalty of their own in the first half when Granit Xhaka was having his shirt pulled off as he attempted to meet an Arsenal corner.
Referee Mark Clattenburg though decided to give this one Spurs’ way and Harry Kane stepped up and smashed the ball down the middle after Petr Cech went down to restore parity to the game.
Both teams had half chances to win the game as the match wore on with Arsenal’s decision to throw on reinforcements in the form of Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not paying off as they left themselves more open to the counter attack and lost the fluency to their play.
Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular was especially poor and struggled to get in the game at all conceding freekicks and misplacing passes.
Tottenham were also unlucky to see Christian Eriksen’s freekick come back off the woodwork, while Harry Kane missed a terrific chance as well when a Danny Rose cross from the left wing was just intercepted by Nacho Monreal at the far post.
Spurs were undoubtedly the happier of the two sides with a point as they stay in 5th place, while Arsenal continue to be a point behind leaders Chelsea and level on points but behind on goal difference from Manchester City. Liverpool could leapfrog all three teams with a win against Watford later today.
Up next for the Gunners is a clash with one time arch rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford after the international break, while Tottenham will enjoy home comforts in a slightly less important London derby with West Ham United.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi, Xhaka, Coquelin (Ramsey 64′), Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain 71′), Ozil, Iwobi (Giroud 70′), Alexis
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Elneny, Ramsey, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker (Trippier 80′), Rose, Wimmer, Dier, Vertonghen, Dembele, Wanyama, Son (Winks 89′), Eriksen, Kane (Janssen 73′)
Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Janssen, Nkoudou, Onomah, Winks, Carter-Vickers
Final Score: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (Wimmer og 42′, Kane pen 51′)