Arsenal 1 Tottenham 1: Three talking points as Kieran Gibbs nets equaliser
Kieran Beckles takes a look at the talking points as Kieran Gibbs rescues a point for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur
A matter of centre-halves
Laurent Koscielny was restored to the Arsenal starting line-up for the north London derby after the Frenchman missed their 5-1 defeat by Bayern Munich mid-week with a hip problem. While Koscielny returned, it was at the expense of Gabriel Paulista, and not Per Mertesacker. Presumably, the Brazilian’s lack of derby experience played a part in the manager’s decision, particularly after losing his temper with Diego Costa in the London derby at Chelsea in October. Surprisingly, Koscielny made the mistake which led to Harry Kane’s opener in the 32nd minute. The 30-year-old stepped up with the rest of his Arsenal line but a little too late as Kane beat the offside trap and finished past Petr Cech. Gabriel did something similar against Bayern mid-week. Arsenal have produced some of the Premier League’s best football over the past month or so, but questions marks linger over their inconsistent defence, particularly against the top sides. While Arsenal may have kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win against Manchester United, it was against a Red Devils side struggling to create. Struggling Chelsea scored twice against the north London side in their last Premier League defeat.
Impressive Alli highlights Arsenal’s limitations
Dele Alli is the type of player that Arsenal supporters have been crying out for in recent seasons. Francis Coquelin has done an adequate job in centre midfield since emerging as a Wenger favourite earlier this year. While the 22-year-old Frenchman is a ball winner, he is very limited on the ball and he can struggle to put Arsenal on the front foot. Admittedly, Alli’s final ball could have been better in the north London derby, but his energy and physical presence was a standout feature, contrasting with pint-sized Santi Cazorla. Tottenham’s English pulse has surpassed Wenger’s British talents. Kane, Alli and Danny Rose are already England internationals, and Eric Dier was called up to Roy Hodgson’s most-recent squad. The future looks bright at White Hart Lane, and it looks English.
Arsenal show title character
It wasn’t a great Arsenal performance. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were lively in the opening 20 minutes but Arsenal’s big-name stars couldn’t maintain their intensity. Like Ozil and Sanchez, the rest of the Gunners side started to fade as Tottenham Hotspur started to get a stranglehold on the match. When Arsenal did manage to rally in the second half, it lasted a matter of minutes before Spurs hit back with Christian Eriksen and Kane coming close to adding a second. Arsenal of old would have crumbled after a demoralising 5-1 loss against Bayern Munich in Germany mid-week, but Wenger threw on Kieran Gibbs in an unorthodox left-midfield role. It wasn’t pretty but the Arsenal defender managed to get a touch on Ozil’s cross to level up the north London derby. Wenger won’t be savouring a vintage Arsenal performance but after their Champions League exertions and Manchester City drawing at 20th-placed Aston Villa, it was a welcome point – and one which could prove crucial come next May.