Kieran Gibbs struck his first Premier League goal for more than three years to rescue a draw for Arsenal in the north London derby and take them back level with Manchester City at the Premier League summit. Arsenal had been staring at only their second home loss to Tottenham since 1993 after Harry Kane’s strike gave the visitors a deserved first-half lead. But just three minutes after being sent on from the bench by Arsene Wenger, Gibbs arrived onto the end of Mesut Ozil’s precise cross at the back post and managed to squeeze in a volley that Hugo Lloris will be disappointed he failed to keep out.
The result means Arsenal rejoin Manchester City, who dropped points earlier in the day against Aston Villa, while Tottenham climb back into fifth place, remaining five points off the top. While they were the side hanging on in the end, such was the impressive way they played for much of the encounter, there will be cause for some frustration for Spurs that they failed to claim an all-too rare victory at their fiercest rivals.
Despite playing their third game in just seven days, it was Tottenham’s pressing that stood out and heavily disrupted Arsenal’s usual passing rhythm. Gradually Mauricio Pochettino’s side grew into the ascendency, and there could be few complaints from those in red when the visitors grabbed the lead. Kane, who struck twice in Tottenham’s 2-1 home win over Arsenal last season, was able to run in behind a shambolically organized Arsenal backline, before finishing with supreme composure past Petr Cech.
Arsenal had their chances in a second half where in spells they displayed more urgency, but Olivier Giroud's absence of clinical finishing appeared set to prove costly. Having hit the crossbar with one close-range header, the striker then somehow headed wide of the target again from six yards, and again from a perfectly delivered Mesut Ozil set-piece.
Yet Tottenham had their own opportunities to make the result safe, and, with Arsenal’s defending leaving much to be desired, it was left to some fine goalkeeping from Cech to keep the hosts’ hopes alive. Just a few minutes after Cech reacted impressively to keep out Toby Alderweireld’s fierce header from a near-post corner, the man between the posts at the other end allowed to game to be turned on its head 13 minutes from the end. Lloris appeared to be in position to keep Gibbs’ volley at bay, but instead could only parry it behind him and agonizingly over the line.
At the end, both managers will have cause for celebration and disappointment. Just four days after being humiliated 5-1 by Bayern Munich, an injury-ravaged Arsenal squad again showed plenty of vulnerability. For much of the match, they were second best. And while it is not yet known whether the decision to take Santi Cazorla off at halftime was injury or tactically related, it would be no surprise were it the latter, given the way he in particular was harried into errors in the first half. The lack of defensive organization throughout, not least in the poor decision making from Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker on Kane’s goal, was also a major concern.
But on the back of such a chastening loss, Arsene Wenger will be encouraged by the fact that his side were able to fight their way back into the contest. Avoiding a second straight damaging loss could prove key to maintaining momentum.
As for his counterpart, Pochettino will be delighted with the way his side played for the majority of the 90 minutes. Certainly, they looked a better drilled outfit than rivals who have looked down upon Spurs for so long. On the back of such a hectic schedule, which included a Europa League win over Anderlecht less than 72 hours earlier, he can hardly be too disappointed with a point that means Tottenham still haven’t lost in the Premier League since the opening day of the season. But thoughts of what might have been, rising to within three points of the Premier League summit, will be inevitable after the lateness of Arsenal’s equalizer and the manner of it.