It’s a bizarre case of two points dropped and one point gained following our 2-2 draw with Tottenham, as while we really should have got the win over our north London rivals, we were forced to come from behind having been reduced to ten men in order to salvage a point.
It was a frantic start to the game, with both sides clearly going for goals; despite Arsene Wenger setting up more defensively. Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin were paired in midfield, while Aaron Ramsey was pushed out to the wings.
Tottenham were looking the better side, and were dominating possession and peppering our goal – admittedly not with any particularly threatening efforts. We were looking dangerous on the counter-attack though, and Danny Welbeck starting up front appeared to be an excellent choice.
Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin frustratingly both found themselves booked fairly early on, and both yellows would play a part in the result. We were under the cosh for most of the first half, and had David Ospina to thank when Erik Lamela looked to turn a cross goalwards. It looked destined to find the back of the net, but the Arsenal shot-stopper stuck out a hand and made a superb reaction save.
Right before the break the counter-attacking threat we’d been posing paid dividends, and Aaron Ramsey was able to put us into the lead. Good work from Danny Welbeck down the left stretched the Tottenham defence awkwardly, and Aaron Ramsey’s forward run created space for Hector Bellerin. Welbeck picked out the Spaniard who played it quickly in to Ramsey, with the Welshman cleverly flicking it past Hugo Lloris with a neat back-heel. 1-0.
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We were boosted by the goal, while Tottenham seemed a little shell shocked. We pushed for a second before the end of the half, but there wasn’t enough time to capitalise on our momentum – although Welbeck arguably should have after being played through on goal by Mesut Özil.
We looked to be in control after the break, and while we hadn’t exactly picked up where we left off, the game was unquestionably ours to lose. Francis Coquelin’s moment of madness made things hugely difficult for us though, with the Frenchman needlessly sliding in on Harry Kane and getting his second yellow of the game. The referee didn’t really have any option, and unfortunately it was the right call.
We seemed to collapse a little after going down to ten men, and within minutes Spurs had scored twice to take the lead. David Ospina attempted to keep the home side out, making another fantastic goal-line save to deny Kane. Replays showed there was a matter of millimeters between a goal and a save, with referee Michael Oliver expecting to blow his whistle after looking down at his watch for a goal alert.
It meant very little unfortunately though, as Toby Alderweireld soon leveled things up. Erik Lamela somehow managed to get the better of Gabriel Paulista in the air during a corner, with the ball falling kindly for the Belgian defender. He smashed it goalwards, and despite Ramsey and Ospina looking to get the block in the ball found the back of the net. 1-1.
Kane then decided he felt like being world class for a few minutes, with the England striker capitalising on a mistake by Per Mertesacker. He cut in from the left flank and curled the ball from distance, leaving David Ospina with no chance as it flew into the top corner. 2-1.
We looked more likely to concede again rather than equalise, but the introduction of Olivier Giroud for Mohamed Elneny changed all that. The Frenchman had an indirect impact on the game, and really made us much more of an attacking threat. He kept the defenders really busy, creating spaces for Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, and Mesut Özil.
We were soon level too, with Giroud playing a part in the build-up. The ball was worked out to Hector Bellerin, and the full-back played a great ball in front of the defence for Alexis Sanchez. The best option looked to be for the Chilean to keep the ball moving for Giroud at the far post, but instead he chose to take a shot. It certainly wasn’t one of his best, but with the rain pouring down it skidded off the surface and got the better of Hugo Lloris. 2-2.
More good work from Giroud really should have seen things leveled up in terms of numbers not just goals, and Eric Dier certainly should have been given a second yellow for a blatant shirt pull on the Arsenal forward. Michael Oliver had a great view, but ridiculously didn’t book the Tottenham man. A couple of players had been booked for similar offences, and there was a real lack of consistency from the referee on this occasion. There were calls for Bellerin to be given a second yellow when he appeared to pull back Dele Alli, but his was nowhere near as bad as Dier’s, and if the referee had have sent off the young right-back there would have been riots.
There was still time for some superb saves at both ends, with Ospina acrobatically keeping Christian Erkisen out and Lloris punching away an Alexis free kick. Gabriel Paulista almost scored an embarrassing own goal with a wild clearance and Aaron Ramsey had a great chance to score, but the Welshman was denied by a superb last ditch sliding challenge by Kevin Wimmer.
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A point is not bad considering the situation, but we really needed the win in this massive three pointer. If Leicester win against Watford we could find ourselves with too much to do, but there was definitely an improvement in our character and desire – we need to keep that up.