Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Barclays Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham in yesterday’s north London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners – thumped 5-1 at Bayern Munich in their midweek Champions League tie – had to come from behind after Harry Kane fired the industrious visitors into a deserved first-half lead.
Substitute Kieran Gibbs bundled in a first league goal since March 2012 on 77 minutes to set up a grandstand finale.
However, Arsene Wenger’s side – missing the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hector Bellerin, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck through injury – could not conjure a winner, so remained level with Manchester City, who earlier drew 0-0 at Aston Villa.
“In the second half we showed the mental strength of a side determined not to lose the game. In the end I think it’s a good 1-1,” said Wenger afterwards.
“What this championship shows is that you have to fight 200 per cent in every game for a result, you’ve seen that in all the games today. It shows it will be down to the team that can find the mental resource in every game.”
It was an electric opening to the 82nd north London derby, with both sides quick on the break but lacking a telling pass in the final third.
Spurs created the first real opening when a deep free-kick from Christian Eriksen floated over to the back post, where Eric Dier sent his angled header wide.
Kane fired the visitors in front on 32 minutes. Full-back Danny Rose chipped a long ball over the Arsenal defence, with Per Mertesacker caught upfield and Laurent Koscielny trying to play offside, which released Kane into the Arsenal penalty area. The England forward, who scored against Anderlecht in Thursday’s Europa League tie, dipped his shoulder before curling a low effort past Petr Cech into the bottom-right corner.
Arsenal were close to an equaliser when Joel Campbell cut in from the right and curled a low effort towards the far corner, which Hugo Lloris got down at full stretch to turn away.
Spurs then came within inches of doubling their lead when Eriksen darted into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area and his angled shot was deflected off Mathieu Flamini and drifted across the face of goal, dropping just past the far post.
Arsenal hit the crossbar on 54 minutes after Mesut Ozil sent over a deep free-kick from the right and Olivier Giroud just could not keep his looping header down.
The France forward then glanced a free header wide from six yards following Ozil’s corner.
Spurs weathered the storm and were soon back in the ascendancy, as Cech beat away a bullet header from Toby Alderweireld at point-blank range.
Wenger sent on Gibbs, replacing Campbell, and the defender – pushed on to the left flank – pulled Arsenal level on 77 minutes.
Ozil swung over a deep ball from the right, which floated across the Spurs area and Gibbs arrived on cue at the far post to volley past Lloris as the goalkeeper fell back into the net.
Arsenal had the momentum now, with Giroud forcing another smart reaction save from the France goalkeeper, but Spurs held out for a deserved point.
“The way we played we should feel very proud,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.