Arsenal fought back from a goal down to rescue a point at home to north London foes Tottenham thanks to a late strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Nacer Chadli struck on the break for Spurs 56 minutes into a slow-burning derby, but Arsenal built up a head of stream and capitalized when Oxlade-Chamberlain lashed into the roof of the net with 16 minutes remaining.
Given the pressure they applied late on, the goal was no less than Arsenal deserved, and there was plenty of disappointment around the Emirates Stadium that they weren’t able to seize on their superiority further and grab a winner. Yet it was a challenging evening for Arsenal against rivals that they have dominated in recent years. Mauricio Pochettino became the latest Tottenham manager to try and alter the balance of power in north London. And, despite his side being hauled back, the Argentinean had plenty with which to be encouraged after a run of three Premier League matches without a win.
While Arsenal controlled possession, Tottenham shrewdly bided their time and looked to capitalize in transition. Having been wasteful in the first half, they showed up Arsenal’s continued vulnerability on the break when Mathieu Flamini was robbed and Chadli finished. While Arsenal recovered well, helped by Alexis Sanchez’s arrival off the bench and Mesut Ozil's move into the center, the encounter could have consequences beyond just the two dropped points from Arsene Wenger. Injuries forced off Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey in the first half, while the third of Arsenal’s starting midfield trio, Jack Wilshere, made his way off later on having earlier gone down in agony clutching his problematic right ankle.
Already with a shortage of defenders, the latest injuries are a recurrence of a common theme for Arsenal. And so was their continued demonstration that they are at their most vulnerable when they have the ball. Pochettino, who has built his reputation on a high pressing, attacking style, showed his flexibility in his first north London derby in getting his side to pick their moments to press.
Despite Arsenal dominating possession in the opening half, it was Tottenham that had the better openings. Sanchez was left on the bench after starting the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Southampton and, just as oddly, Ozil again played mainly from the left, although admittedly switching on occasions with Wilshere. Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul coped impressively with what was thrown at them, while 23-year-old Ryan Mason had an encouraging first ever Premier League appearance alongside Etienne Capoue in front of the back four.
Having soaked up the pressure, Tottenham had their best spell of the opening period right before halftime. They carved out two good chances, too, but both were wasted, first by former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor and then by Chadli. By that point Tottenham had also failed to take advantage of several opportunities when stripping their opponents of possession and streaming forward against an Arsenal team all-too familiarly caught upfield.
Early in the second half they finally seized their chance. Eriksen impressively pressed a dawdling Flamini, allowing Erik Lamela to feed Chadli down the side of Arsenal’s defense for the Belgian to finish clinically across Wojciech Szczesny. It looked like being the perfect away performance for Tottenham. But the goal sparked Arsenal into life and they were level almost immediately. It took a sensational save from Hugo Lloris to keep the hosts t bay, with the French stopper somehow clawing out Per Mertesacker’s firm header with the strongest of one-handed saves.
It was a major disappointment then that Tottenham’s defenses faltered for the only time to deny them only a second win in their last 22 visits to Arsenal. Lamela brought on the danger with a horrid clearance that went straight to Sanchez on the left of the box. From the Chilean’s pull-back, Santi Cazorla’s shot was scuffed, but deflected off Kaboul and, after Welbeck swung and missed in front of goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain made no mistake to leave Lloris with no chance.