Spurs 1-1 Arsenal: Honours even in hard-fought North London derby
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Arsenal travelled to Wembley Stadium to take on Spurs in the North London derby. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report
A 74th minute Harry Kane penalty levelled a first half Aaron Ramsey goal to ensure honours were even after a full-blooded North London derby ended 1-1.
The England captain sent Gunners keeper Bernd Leno the wrong way after referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty following a push in the back on Kane from Shkodran Mustafi.
However, in a tale of two penalties Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a late spot-kick saved by Hugo Lloris.
After a superlative display during the 5-1 rout of Bournemouth at the Emirates on Wednesday Unai Emery once again benched talented playmaker Mesut Ozil, opting for Alex Iwobi instead while Grant Xhaka replaced Lucas Torreira.
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Emery also picked Alex Lacazette ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he went for more solidity ahead of flair.
With the Gunners having won their last three matches and Mauricio Pochettino’s side losing their last two against Burnley and Chelsea, a victory against the Lillywhites would have seen Emery’s men move to within one point of their opponents from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.
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As ever in these frenzied encounters form is only a basis for negotiation.
And so it proved in the early stages as the home side dominated, albeit without an end product as the Gunners backline withstood urgent early probing.
However in the 16th minute Davinson Sanchez failed to deal with a long ball prompting Ramsey to capitalise on the error before rounding the onrushing keeper Hugo Lloris, before calmly slotting home.
Wembley was momentarily silenced before the screams of delight from the 3,000 travelling Gunners fans packed in the away end punctured the air as the players and fans celebrated wildly at the home of their bitter rivals on and off the pitch.
The goal was also proof Ramsey is a true clubman proving categorically that he is most definitely not idly playing out his contract until his lucrative move to Juventus in the summer.
The statistics backed the claim up that Ramsey shines in the maelstrom of the North London derby – having been directly involved in three of Arsenal’s last four Premier League goals against Tottenham - one goal and two assists.
On 23 minutes Harry Kane was rightly denied a goal for offside following referee Anthony Taylor disallowing his headed goal after Christian Eriksen floated a free-kick into the box.
After a passionate if scrappy spell Alex Iwobi drew a superb save from Lloris in the 42nd minute Gunners keeper Leno went even better with an absolutely world class show first denying Kane with a brave block before diving full stretch to tip past the post a fierce shot from Moussa Sissoko.
The home crowd simply couldn’t believe their eyes while the travelling fans proudly sung Leno’s name as the clock ticked down to the interval.
Emery made a change at the interval swapping Matteo Guendouzi for Lucas Torreira.
The Spaniard also showed his ruthless streak after hooking Lacazette following his miss in front of goal early in the second half after a well-worked move involving Iwobi.
Moments after Kieran Trippier fired a shot into the side-netting Emery replaced the misfiring Lacazette with Aubameyang.
Of course he would claim it was tactical but despite his thumbs up after the Frenchman’s crucial miss it would have been more appropriate if he had indicated a thumbs down in the style of a Roman Emperor.
The look on Lacazette’s face certainly looked like a condemned man.
As the clock ticked down Emery replaced Ramsey with Ozil – but it was a defender who should have been replaced long ago, Mustafi, that gave away the crucial spot-kick which Kane converted to earn the home side a point.
Frustration all round for Arsenal with Aubameyang’s penalty miss.