It was honours even at the Emirates in Sunday’s midday kick-off, as Spurs came from behind to secure a point in the North London Derby.
The big news before kick off was the return of talisman Harry Kane, who hadn’t played since his knee injury in mid-September. Kane was only passed fit to play at the end of the week, but was thrown in at the deep end as he spearheaded a new-look Spurs side.
Mauricio Pochettino used a 3-4-3 formation seen only once before, in our win against Watford last season, with Kevin Wimmer joining Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier for his first start of the campaign.
There was a worry that England striker Kane might be lacking a little match-fitness due to his spell on the sidelines, but he was the first man to get the fans out of their seats with a glorious chance courtesy of a Christian Eriksen cross.
The first half was split firmly in two. Spurs dominated the first 20 minutes, restricting Arsenal to a handful of passes and hardly and chances while they camped in the Gunners’ half.
However the tide began to turn as the half went on. Arsene Wenger’s side turned the screw as Mesut Ozil began pulling the strings, and the two wide men began vausing problems.
First up it was youngster Alex Iwobi who probably should have done better when presented with a glaring chance thanks to Alexis Sanchez:
…Before Theo Walcott produced what would have been an absolutely stunning goal, only to be denied by the upright of Hugo Lloris’ goal.
…The arriving Mesut Ozil couldn’t capitalise on the rebound, either…
But the German wasn’t done there. Inevitably, it was a piece of magic from him that broke the stalemate towards the end of the half.
Ozil’s deliveries had been Arsenal’s biggest danger of the opening 45, and his latest did not disappoint. The pin-point accurate in-swinger left Kevin Wimmer with nothing to do but head embarrassingly into his own net to make it 1-0.
Poor old Kev wasn’t happy with that one, which should have been ruled out for offside due to the positioning of “active” players Laurant Koscielny, Alexis Sanchez and Shkrodan Mustafi.
Spurs sides of the past would have let that ruin their game, but not this one. After the break, Poch’s side came out of the blocks all guns blazing.
It was Moussa Dembele’s turn to produce a moment of genius, and the Belgian didn’t disappoint.
His fantastic solo run and drop of the shoulder saw France centre-half Koscielny dive in studs first, a foul worthy of a penalty agreed referee Mark Clattenburg:
And there was only one man on the field who was ready to dispatch it. Harry Kane celebrated his eagerly-awaited return from injury by levelling the scores from 12-yards out.
The Harry Kane of old seemed to be returning, as the instinctive Enfield boy found himself finding space in the Arsenal box more and more often.
He was to have one more chance before being replaced by Vincent Janssen, a chance that had he been playing for the last two months he would have been highly likely to put away.
Christian Eriksen then followed in the footsteps of Theo Walcott by testing the frame of the Emirates goals, his teasing free-kick from the left wing evading everyone in the box to ricochet off the back post to safety.
But it wasn’t to be, and the game came to a pulsating finish with honours even.
A typically fiesty North London Derby didn’t disappoint, and Spurs stayed in 5th place with the unbeaten run intact.
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