A combination of refereeing decisions and profligate finishing put paid to our hopes of a first away win over our rivals since 2015, as we played out a draw versus tottenham.
An early goal from Aaron Ramsey looked like it would be enough for us to gain the win that would have shrunk the gap between us and them to a solitary point, but a dubious goal from Harry Kane and a stoppage time penalty miss from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were enough to deny us.
Unai Emery made some bold calls with his selections. Mesut Ozil was dropped in favour of Aaron Ramsey, Lucas Torreira was left out in favour of Matteo Guendouzi and Aubameyang was left on the bench, as Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ably assisted Alexandre Lacazette.
We started brightly, and in the fourth minute, Laca had a gilt-edged chance thanks to Iwobi cutting in, only to fire wide. We should have been a goal up.
Tottenham were coming forward with more purpose after our flying start, but we didn’t have to wait long for our opening.
A long ball from deep sprung the spurs offside trap, leaving Ramsey all alone to hone in on goal after Sanchez fluffed his lines and headed into the ground. The Welshman rounded Lloris and put the ball into the net to give us the lead, and deservedly so.
Eight minutes later, Kane thought he had equalised, only for the linesman to flag for offside - correctly.
The home team were getting some wind in their sales after their early setback, with Son especially getting forward to good effect, although he was struggling to find the final ball. This was a credit to our defence as well as the Korean’s decision making.
Our whole team were getting back and covering their avenues, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi and Ramsey were closing down to good effect. There was time for two good chances, technically three, before half time.
Firstly, Alex Iwobi cut in again from the left and let fly, aiming for the far corner, but Lloris pulled off a fantastic save.
Then, just before half time, Bernd Leno showed us how good he really is.
A ball over the top let Eriksen free, and on the volley the Dane smashed a shot, which Leno was equal to. the rebound? Met by Sissokho, and his effort was goalbound, only for a far-flung hand from Leno to stop it. A wondrous save.
Half time came and went and we were a goal up. Emery chose to bring on Torreira for this half in place of Guendouzi, perhaps to stop the runners from spurs.
It was pretty even for the initial minutes, but the first chance fell to us, and it was another golden one.
Monreal was on the left and with very little resistance to stop his run. He smashed into the box and pulled the ball back from the byline, finding Laca, but again he went wide. We really should have put the game to bed, and this would haunt us.
We nearly paid for it straight away, but alderweireld fired into the side netting after being found in a great spot at the back post. Living dangerously. Emery made another change, with Laca slumping off for Aubameyang. It would turn out to be neither of our striker’s days.
With fifteen to play, we were looking good and holding them at arms length. But with Anthony Taylor the man with the whistle, there would always be controversy.
This again proved true. A free kick was fizzed in and Taylor adjudged that Mustafi had bundled Kane over. Replays showed a number of tottenham men offside precluding Mustafi’s contact with Kane, meaning the offence was rendered moot, or should have been. Instead, the penalty stood, and Kane made no mistake from the spot.
We had every right to be aggrieved, but we would get the chance to put the record straight.
Fast forward to the 90th minute, and we were gifted a penalty, for what appeared to be a soft offence. Still, after tottenham’s goal was given, hadn’t we earned some good fortune?
Auba stepped up to take the kick, only for his tame effort to be easily saved by Lloris. that would surely have been the winner.
We still had time to get a man sent off too. A fifty-fifty ball saw Torreira fly in, but with one foot. His leg was slightly off the ground, but he got the ball. Also, Rose had jumped in with both feet, and didn’t get his marching orders. Instead, our Uruguayan was given the red.
Rose had also kicked Koscielny while he was on the floor, so the left back was extremely lucky to be on the pitch.
That was that, the last of the action. We had dropped two points, and also the chance to really exert some pressure on our rivals, but we did send a message that we have some real fibre in us and we have a great chance of going toe to toe with United and Chelsea for this 4th spot.
Perhaps, if spurs drop more points, we could still catch them.
Next up in the League is United. Another must win game.