Goal keeps Arsenal away from top spot
BY MARTIN SAMUEL / With 73 minutes gone, Harry Kane left the field to predictable opprobrium from the home support. That is five goals in four games against Arsenal for Kane, tying with Gareth Bale in the Premier League era.
Kane has been missing for six weeks and Tottenham have suffered accordingly.
The draw was the fair result, though, even if it will leave both sides frustrated. Arsenal missed out on a chance to go top, Tottenham lost ground on the top four. No-one suffers the Monday morning embarrassment at work, but nobody got the spoils either.
Kane’s penalty, Tottenham’s equaliser, looked soft. Mousa Dembele appeared to be already off balance and ready to tumble when Laurent Koscielny stuck out a leg in the 50th minute.
Had he kept out of it the Tottenham man may have fallen anyway. This made it look like a trip. Mark Clattenburg had a good view, though, and decided: foul. Kane waited for Cech to choose a side and stuck it straight down the middle.
Arsene Wenger made a string of attacking substitutions, but none could deliver the match. Hugo Lloris saved at the feet of Mesut Ozil, and tipped an Alex Iwobi cross around when Granit Xhaka couldn’t get a touch. It was a good derby, a lively derby, but with no winner it did neither side any favours really.
It was a bold decision by Mauricio Pochettino to play a back three in such an important game but, for much of the first half, it worked. Arsenal had plenty of possession, but little that amounted to a threat and had to wait until the 31st minute for a shot of significance.
Tottenham, by contrast, made good use of their wing backs – particularly Danny Rose – and had a couple of good opportunities to open the scoring.
In the fifth minute, Son Heung-min broke quickly down the left and struck a low cross that just couldn’t meet the foot of Kane.
Then, after 21 minutes, a cross by Eriksen found Kane in plenty of space, but the England man steered a diving header narrowly mind. He could have done better, and perhaps would have if this were not his first match since September 18. It is an indication of how sorely he has been missed that Pochettino put him straight back in the starting line-up.
Yet once Arsenal got into the game, the title potential that many have observed this season could be plainly seen.
There seemed to be an Arsenal goal coming, and in the 42nd minute, from the unlikeliest direction, it arrived. A free-kick was won 40 yards out and Ozil floated it in, targeting every central defender’s corridor of uncertainty. He succeeded in turning Kevin Wimmer around, back towards his own goal.