BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 5TH MARCH, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) ARSENAL 2(1)
Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- M. Mullarkey & S. Childv
Fourth official:- R. East
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose (sub Davies, 78); Dier, Dembele (sub Son, 82); Alli, Eriksen, Lamela (sub Mason, 67); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier; Carroll; Chadli
Booked:- Lamela (foul on Welbeck), Dier (foul on Welbeck)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1):- Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker (Capt.), Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny (sub Giroud, 75), Coquelin; Ramsey, Ozil (sub Campbell, 90), Sanchez; Welbeck (sub Flamini, 85)
Subs not used:- Macey; Monreal, Chambers; Walcott
Booked:- Bellerin (foul on Rose), Coquelin (handball), Sanchez (unsporting conduct)
Sent off:- (54) Coquelin (second yellow for foul on Kane)
Sanchez snatches draw for 10-man Arsenal
I'll be honest with you. I've dreamt but never quite believed that Spurs might win the league this season. Today we saw a rousing "North London Derby" match in which Arsenal first took the lead after early Spurs pressure. Spurs came back after Coquelin was sent off for a second yellow card after 54 minutes, but then succumbed as Arsenal failed to play like a team one man short, with Sanchez scoring a 76th minute equaliser.
Whilst we remain three points ahead of our hated rivals, and in second place, the fact remains that we have dropped five points in our last two games, and I fear we are going to fall short of the line when it comes to winning the Premier League title. I may be wrong, of course, and I hope that is the case, but I can't help feeling we have missed a trick or two this week. We have certainly dropped five points.
Mauricio Pochettino played surely his strongest team today, with Mousa Dembele returning, and Lamela, Alli, and Eriksen playing behind Kane. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose got the full-back berths.
Arsenal were missing Petr Cech in goal, Koscielny at the back along with several others such as Giroud, Walcott, who were on the bench, and Oxlade-Chambelain who is on their injured list. We all thought we perceived weakness, but somehow, Arsenal always seem to find a way of adapting.
The game started in cold, but fair conditions, but the atmosphere was as hot as you'd expect for this fixture. Spurs opened with high intensity, and dominated possession, without testing second choice keeper Ospina sufficiently in those early stages. Harry Kane won and took a quick early throw, which ended with Dele Alli's cross/shot passing wide of the far post. After a fancy attempted back-heel pass by Arsenal in midfield, Alli latched onto the ball and gave Lamela a chance. His shot went straight into Ospina's hands.
Alli, and Eriksen were involved in a build-up which gave Harry Kane a chance, but Ospina parried the shot, and Arsenal cleared. Spurs had kicked off and played towards the Park Lane stand.
Only 6 minutes had gone, but Spurs were keeping the home fans excited. Harry Kane headed the ball to Lamela, who got the ball back to Kane. His shot was deflected and won a corner. Eric Dier had a shot go wide after changing passes with Lamela, on his left. Ospina collected an Eriksen free kick.
A Danny Rose cross was blocked and suddenly, Arsenal made a break and started to look dangerous after all that early Spurs domination. Ramsey's cross to the near post was cleared.
Eriksen passed to Kane who had a shot blocked, before Kyle Walker followed up and threatened with a cross.
After a foul on Danny Rose, Ospina held Eriksen's free kick. Both Erik Lamela and Coquelin saw yellow in separate exchanges. Danny Welbeck suddenly looked dangerous, turning Toby Alderweireld twice. The first time led to a corner which was cleared by Kane, but the second time, the former Manchester United man broke clear of Alderweireld, hitting a pass to Bellerin, whose shot seemed to be deflected in by Ramsey for a one goal lead against the run of play.
Half-time was approaching and Eriksen passed to Rose in a well advanced position, but his cross to the back post was not met by a Spurs colleague.
After the break, Spurs won a free kick for a foul on Dele Alli. Eriksen and Alli then exchanged passes before Eriksen simply skied his attempt on goal. Ospina parried a good shot from the right by Erik Lamela after Walker's pass inside.
Coquelin got a second yellow card for pulling back Harry Kane as he flew after a ball down the left flank. Lamela took a Spurs corner from the left headed by Alderweireld to Kane, whose shot was saved on the line by Ospina, and proved by goal-line technology not to have crossed the line by the slimmest of margins.
Spurs were level soon after that though, after another corner, also from the left, but this the taken by Eriksen. It was Lamela who forced the ball down and across the goalmouth for Toby Alderweireld, who fired low past Ospina from the left side of goal.
Within two minutes, Spurs were in the lead and The Lane was rocking. Dele Alli chased a long ball all the way down the left touchline, almost to the bye-line before delightfully back-heeling the ball to Harry Kane, who scored a simply magnificent goal. Harry came inside a little before curling a fantastic right footed shot past Ospina into his top left corner. Harry ripped off his mask and celebrated in the north-east corner.
Spurs were on a high and sniffing blood. Ospina saved from Dier after Eriksen's pass.
Sanchez got a yellow card following some sort of spat with Erik Lamela. Referee Michael Oliver also chose to have words with Arsenal captain Mertesacker over the incident. Lamela was soon replaced by Ryan Mason.
Arsenal were of course desperate to try and get something out of this game. To their credit, they did not play like a team which was one man short.
After a Spurs throw on the right, Eriksen and Alli worked the ball from right to left before Danny Rose hit a shot wide. Harry Kane pushed the ball forward to Walker on his right, Walker returned the compliment, but Kane's right footed shot passed wide.
With just over 20 minutes of the game to play, the rain started to fall more heavily. Unfortunately for Spurs, Sanchez latched onto Bellerin's ball from the right, and had sufficient space to hit a right footed shot across and beyond Lloris hitting the net inside the keeper's right post.
Danny Rose had taken a knock and was replaced by Davies. Dembele fed a ball to the new left back, who crossed low to Alli. His shot was held. Dembele was then replaced by Son, but the South Korean failed to make an impact on the game. He was involved in a move where Ryan Mason hit a decent shot which took a slight deflection for a corner
By this time, Arsenal had Giroud on the pitch as well as Sanchez. At the back, left back Gibbs, who had scored Arsenal's equaliser this season at The Emirates, panicked and his ball fell to Dele Alli on the right. Alli passed inside to Eriksen, who hit a terrific right foot shot which Ospina pushed over for a corner.
Kevin Wimmer was punished at the back and Lloris saved well from Sanchez's free kick. At the other end, centre back Gabriel escaped from own goal embarrassment when he sliced Eriksen's cross onto the top of his own net.
We had four minutes of added time, but Wimmer was required to make a saving tackle when Arsenal threatened. Eriksen had a shot go wide in the last moments of the game, and Spurs had to settle for just the one point from a game they had hoped to win.
Leicester won 1-0 at Watford and extended their lead over Spurs to 5 points. With away games against both Liverpool and Chelsea yet to come, we have a massive task on our hands, I think, if we want to win the title. I personally think we will fall short, but hope for a top three finish.
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