Arsenal: Cech, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ozil, Campbell, Alexis, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Arteta Chambers, Flamini, Gibbs, Gabriel, Iwobi,
A late goal from substitute Kieran Gibbs salvaged a point as an under-par Arsenal drew 1-1 with Sp*rs at the Emirates this afternoon.
The only change from the team that started in Munich was the return of Laurent Koscielny at centre-half, while Mathieu Debuchy and Joel Campbell started on the right had side.
The game began brightly with both sides showing attacking intent, even as early as the 4th minute there was an end to end quality to proceedings. There was bite in midfield from both sides, and some creativity, Joel Campbell just unable to control an excellent pass from Alexis inside the Sp*rs area.
It settled down into a typically frenetic, if nervy derby, without too much to bother either goalkeeper. Spurs had to defend a couple of dangerous crosses from Monreal and Alexis, while at the other end a long ball to the heart of the Arsenal defence caused some momentary danger.
The visitors had the best chance of the game in the 25th minute, Erik Dier heading wide at the back post from an Erikssen free kick, the Arsenal marking was poor. By the half hour mark, Spurs had had 4 attempts on goals with the Gunners yet to register one.
If that was evidence of something it was hard to say, but when Harry Kane opened the scoring int the 33rd minute you couldn’t say it was a surprise. Koscielny tried to play offside, stepped up, Kane beat the offside trap and finished from close range, clipping the ball over Petr Cech.
There were some off the ball handbags between Giroud and Vertonghen, yet still not much in the way of attacking threat from Arsenal. Santi Cazorla looked a million miles off the pace, and when Campbell found Alexis in the box the Chilean couldn’t quite sort his feet out for an effort on goal. It summed up the first period for Arsene Wenger’s team.
Indeed Cech had to save from Kane just before half-time, and at the break it was impossible not to say that they deserved the lead, which is still a horrible thing to say.
There was a change at the break when Mathieu Flamini came on for the off-colour Cazorla, and Arsenal needed something to spark them into life. It almost came from Campbell who made Hugo Lloris work for the first time, cutting in from the right and shooting low towards the far post. The keeper palmed the ball away to safety.
The Sp*rs lead was almost doubled in the 50th minute when an Erikssen shot deflected off Flamini and flew just beyond the far post with Cech beaten. Arsenal almost equalised a few moments later when Campbell won a free kick out on the right. Ozil took it, floated it in, Giroud was having his shirt pulled but he got free and flicked a header off the top of the bar with Lloris rooted to his line.
Cech was almost caught in possession out of his area, before Koscielny headed wide from a deep free kick, and the equaliser was inches away when Giroud headed just wide from an Ozil corner in the 60th minute. He really should have scored.
At the other end there was danger with Cech saving from Erikssen and Kane shooting wide, and with nobody really obvious on the bench to bring on it was increasingly difficult to see how Arsenal might get the goal they needed.
It felt more like the Sp*rs lead would be extended, Cech denied Alderweireld with a point-blank save, Kane shot wide after a Mertesacker mistake, prompting Arsene Wenger to make his second change – Kieran Gibbs replacing Joel Campbell with 15 minutes to go. That meant Alexis moving to the right with the England man ahead of Monreal.
It turned out to be an inspired substitution as the left-back equalised just moments later. Mesut Ozil crossed it from the right, found Gibbs at the back post, he scrambled it in with Lloris unable to keep it out. 1-1.
Mikel Arteta then replaced Debuchy with Flamini moving to right back. Giroud fired over on the half-volley from a corner, and the Frenchman saw a header pushed around the post by the Tottenham keeper. Sp*rs defended a dangerous Ozil free kick, but the game played itself out to a draw, just like this game at home last season.
Under the circumstances a point feels like a good one. We didn’t play well, but dug in and got something from the game.
Now an Interlull to recharge the batteries.