Harry Kane marked his return from injury with the equaliser that kept Tottenham as the only unbeaten team in the Premier League after a north London derby draw at Arsenal.
The England striker, sidelined since 18 September with an ankle injury, scored from the penalty spot early in the second half after Kevin Wimmer’s own goal three minutes before the interval gave Arsenal the advantage.
The Gunners knew victory would put them top of the table, and Theo Walcott almost put them ahead, crashing a shot against the post, before Wimmer glanced Mesut Ozil’s free-kick past Hugo Lloris.
Spurs responded well with Kane’s spot-kick after Laurent Koscielny tangled with Mousa Dembele. They then threatened to take all three points, Christian Eriksen forcing a fine save from Petr Cech before his angled free-kick bounced back off the post in the closing minutes.
- Relive Arsenal v Tottenham
Arsenal miss their chance?
Arsenal could have gone top of the Premier League with victory here – moving ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City – and all the omens seemed good for them.
The Gunners were in prime form – they remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season – and faced a Spurs side in reduced circumstances, without a win in six games and missing the influence of injured defender Toby Alderweireld and midfielder Dele Alli.
With Kane also returning after a seven-week absence, Arsenal would have entered this north London derby high on optimism – yet had to settle for a draw.
Arsenal were pushed on to the back foot for the first 20 minutes but then exerted their authority to lead by half-time, only to be knocked off track by the concession of that cheap penalty.
The Gunners still showed plenty of grit but in the end they did not possess enough guile to unlock a resolute Spurs defence, who held out in relative comfort for a point.
Pochettino will be more satisfied than Wenger
It may seem strange to suggest, but spirits appeared low at Spurs despite the fact they entered this game as the only unbeaten team left in the Premier League.
Spurs were on an indifferent run after a superb 2-0 win against Manchester City in early October, and their Champions League campaign is in real danger of fizzling out after that second Wembley defeat in the group stage against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
They left Emirates Stadium in better heart after a strong performance and the return of their main marksman Kane, who looked dangerous, albeit short of full match fitness.
Spurs overcame the loss of important players to fully deserve their point and the manner in which they responded to conceding that unfortunate own goal just before half-time will have left Mauricio Pochettino more satisfied than counterpart Arsene Wenger.
Tottenham’s average position map illustrates how manager Mauricio Pochettino tweaked their usual formation to thwart Arsenal’s intricate passing between attack and midfield. Spurs employed three centre-backs, with Victor Wanyama (12) and Mousa Dembele (19) stationed in holding roles in front of them. It worked, and gave licence to full-backs Danny Rose (3) and Kyle Walker (2) to attack
How did Harry Kane fare?
England striker Kane got a standing ovation from the visiting fans when he was replaced by Vincent Janssen after 72 minutes.
He proved once more that he is this team’s talisman, stepping up to score coolly from the spot and showing plenty of energy considering this was his first game back.
Spurs had played 903 minutes without Kane before this game, scoring 13 goals – five of which came against Gillingham in the EFL Cup – and while his strike was not from open play, the signs were there that they will profit from the extra menace he brings.
He was in a dangerous position but did not get on the end of Son Heung-min’s cross in the first half and also glanced a header narrowly wide. As well his penalty, it also took a superb challenge from Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal to stop him putting Spurs ahead after the break as he stole in at the far post.
All in all a very satisfactory comeback.
Man of the match – Mousa Dembele (Tottenham)
The stats you need to know
- Arsenal v Spurs is now the highest scoring fixture in Premier League history with 139 goals.
- Mauricio Pochettino is the first ever Tottenham manager to remain unbeaten in his first five top-flight north London derbies.
- Harry Kane is now Tottenham’s joint-top scorer in Premier League games against Arsenal with five goals (level with Gareth Bale).
- Tottenham have stayed unbeaten in their opening 11 top-flight games for the first time since 1960-61 – which is when they last won the title.
- Laurent Koscielny conceded twice as many fouls in this game (4) as he had in his previous nine Premier League games this season combined (2).
What they said:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, speaking: “It is disappointing to drop two points at home. We created plenty of chances in dangerous situations.
“In the second half we looked more laboured, there were plenty of aspects I did not like, the desire was there but we were too nervous.
“We lacked what we are strong at; the fluency of movement, vision around the box. We usually play better from the back, there was a lot missing.
“Spurs go home happy, we go home and are not happy. We wanted to win the game, but overall it is not mathematically a disaster.”
On the Spurs penalty: “From the outside it looked a very soft penalty, I was surprised.”