Report: Tottenham 0-0 Arsenal
A point is never enough, but in Sunday’s endurance of some scourge at White Hart Lane, Arsenal were delightful with just avoiding defeat – and extending their unbeaten streak of league meetings with the old foe to a record-equaling 19 games.
Rarely do north London derbies end goalless, and that was queer because only goals eluded this fiery clash. You might suggest that 4-4 draw back in October had abducted goals from this return fixture.
Arsenal’s superb resilience with stricken and reduced men, provided a lifeline in the pursuit of a top four spot.
The formidability of Wenger’s squad was much found in the dugout of White Hart Lane where Eduardo da Silva and Andrey Arshavin made up the benchwarmers. Double changes from last week’s starters were Song and Van Persie in for Diaby and Bendtner.
Spurs, at home, were arguably the more energized from start. Tottenham showed derby mood and were lively as ever – threatening from relentless set-pieces and taming shots. First Lennon and Palacios tested Almunia, then Pavlenchenko sent a keen snapshot into the crowd.
Eboue modeled Arsenal sandwiching Tottenham’s thrust with their own crisp. The Ivorian had sniped a shot inches off on five minutes after movement with Van Persie, but did guide the ball home on 13 minutes. Pitifully, the referee judged Eboue to have fouled Woodgate when turning to shoot past a hapless Cudicini right in front of goal.
It was a balancing game at this point, as spills and incisive moves bared an end-to-end affair. Then, at the middle of the hour, serial obstacles went Arsenal’s way in this all-important derby.
One was understandable, the other was bemusing.
Emmanuel Adebayor strained his hamstring in a race for the ball at Tottenham’s end. The Togolese would see an end to a potentially memorable day – his 100th Premier League appearance in a luxuriant fixture. As he was being stretched off the pitch with the match still in play, his namesake Emmanuel Eboue saw a second booking for similar offenses – his insolent attitude against Mike Dean.
The Ivorian seemed to have been spared after a slight fray with Modric, but could not stay quiet with his escape, and so was directed back into the dressing room. In that event, Bendtner had been patched in for Arsenal’s loss of a striker.
Arsenal’s two Emmanuels had carried the team’s torments with personal memories of stressing the club to settle for a point in two big games, due to theirs respective sending-offs – Adebayor against Liverpool and Eboue today.
Tottenham were right where they wanted – having the knife right at Arsenal’s throat. It would be a matter of mercy but perhaps the visitors’ own guts kept them level with their bitter rivals at the break.
Into the second-half, Pavlyuchenko skipped past an off-balance Toure and into Arsenal territory with Almunia to beat, but the Russian finished well wide.
Arsenal had their backs to the wall at this point, and Keane’s header onto Lennon’s cross, brushed the upper part of the net with Almunia powerless.
Spurs were coming closer and closer, but knew if matters remained, Arsenal were always in the run to conjure the unthinkable. It was literally that which nearly occurred when an occasional and awfully delivered corner kick fell to a turning Van Persie at the near-post. The Dutchman smashed a shot just waving Cudicini’s finger tips and over the bar.
Suddenly it looked as if Wenger’s men had neglected their inferiority in numbers as another chance fell to Song from a corner, but the Cameroonian’s faint poke onto the ball always went ‘almost’ .
Curtains were closing, and Tottenham grew more urgent and agitated about sparing the Gunners, but Keane’s low volley after Arsenal had been caught once more, was as much as they frighten before Clichy went off with a bloody headbutt from an aerial clash with Bent.
Then at the death, two pretenders for the game winner transpired.
Arsenal broke once more and Bendtner unleashed a thunderous effort heading right at the top half of the net, but Cudicini tipped it just over. The Italian stopper grabbed the resulting corner and set-up a swift and last-gasp counter attack for his team, which ended up with Modric right in Almunia’s face, but Arsenal’s stopper outrageously denied the ball through his legs and out to safety.
Another stalemate was settled.