A clash of old rivals saw an exciting game as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal both came from behind at different stages to secure a draw.
Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring six minutes before the end of the first half, through a clever flick. The turning moment in the game came in the 55th minute when Francis Coquelin was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. Consequently the game was turned on its heels at the hour mark when Toby Alderweireld equalised for Tottenham before Harry Kane’s stunning strike put them in front just two minutes later. Alexis Sanchez then netted to rescue the point.
The game was a test for both teams, as a win for Tottenham would have kept them on Leicester City’s tails. A win for Arsenal on the other hand would have kept their title fight alive as their recent drop in form has hindered their title ambitions. Both teams arguably failed. Tottenham could not put the game to bed even with a one-man advantage and dominance throughout. Arsenal however needed the win to prove their hunger and determination for the league, something that they have been questioned about. While they showed character to force a draw it wasn’t enough to win. In addition to this they lacked passion in their play, which is vital for a derby win and title challenge.
Coquelin recieves red, but were others lucky?
A second yellow card for Francis Coquelin saw Arsenal go down to ten men in the 55th minute. The challenge on Harry Kane, which resulted in the sending off, was unnecessary from the midfielder, as Kane’s attack saw no direct threat. Coquelin received his first yellow for a grabbing the ball as he fell to ground while being pressed by Eric Dier and Dele Alli. The act was forgivable as the attack, which was developing would have been threating.
However, Eric Dier and Hector Bellerin both had lucky escapes as referee Michael Oliver could have easily sent both players off. Dier was penalised for pulling back Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck while struggling with a tackle, and should have received a second yellow when he again pulled on Oliver Giroud’s short to stop an Arsenal attack. Bellerin however should have received a second yellow after bringing Alli to ground by pulling his shirt.
Naivety in front of goal
Tottenham were dominant throughout the game and saw 26 shots at goal. While the Gunners have David Ospina to thank for some stunning saves which kept them in the game at the same time Tottenham’s inability to really challenge the goalkeeper meant that they couldn’t secure the win.
In the first half Tottenham were in full swing. They pressed well and consequently won the ball back and retained majority of possesion. They linked up well with each other and so created numerous chances. But they were not clinical enough in front of goal to give them the advantage going into the second half, and this came back to haunt them as Ramsey scored to give their rivals the lead. Tottenham were very direct when it came to scoring, who ever had a chance to shoot would, but maybe they were too direct. Their chances lacked the intelligence to beat the ‘keeper, or even the determination to score as multiple shots only lead to easy saves.
At the hour mark where Tottenham equalized they regained momentum in their play and again looked like they could go on to win the game. Yet a 10-men Arsenal team managed to control what is such a powerful Tottenham midfield with ease and later equalised.
This isn’t the first time Tottenham have had this problem. In their FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace a few weeks ago Tottenham did everything but score. Against Swansea City last weekend Tottenham struggled in front of goal but managed to fight back in the final quarter of the game.
Are Tottenham starting to tire?
A high tempo pressing style was always going to take its toll on this Spurs team. While many hoped or even believed it would happen later on the season, it was just as likely to come earlier.
Tottenham are still playing with energy for large sections in games and can keep going until the end, but recent results and inability to put games to bed, like they were doing so easily at the beginning of the season, would suggest tiredness. Spurs are an incredibly fit team meaning that they can dominate opponents even when tired, but it is starting to have an effect. On top of this key players like Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are still playing well but not to the standard we know them to be, which suggest fatigue rather than a drop in form. Tottenham are also looking sloppy at times with missed place passes and easy balls given away further adding to the idea that they are tiring.
Tottenham should be disappointed with the result as they failed to finish the game off when they had the chance. The result feels like two points dropped for the Lilywhite rather than a point gained, like the Gunners may view it.
Tottenham will now travel to Germany to face Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League while Arsenal face Hull for an FA Cup replay.