6th March 2016: More on the draw at Tottenham

Evening all. So where was I? Oh yeah, Harry Kane being an annoyingly lethal striker, but just like the majority of attackers in today’s game, far from shy in ‘buying’ fouls.

Anyway, after losing Coquelin, I was hoping we’d regroup quickly and keep Tottenham at bay for at least 10 to 15 minutes or so because I thought they’d start to get frustrated, fatigue would begin to set in and perhaps we could grab another goal at some point.

In the end, we could only hold out for five minutes because Toby Alderweireld got an equaliser for Sp*rs on the hour mark, firing home a loose ball low and hard past David Ospina at the far post following a corner. Just two minutes later, the hosts completed the turn-around in the score-line with what can only be described as a stunning long-range strike by Arsenal and Freddie Ljungberg fan Kane.

The chance came about because of some slack defending by Per Mertesacker, who in hindsight should either have committed a tactical foul on Alli as the pair chased the ball near the corner-flag, or slid and put it into touch, but instead he allowed Alli to get ahead of him and back-heel the ball to Kane. The England striker cut inside and unleashed a curler into the far top corner, to leave David Ospina with no chance.

As Kane celebrated wildly, I’m sure I wasn’t the only Arsenal fan filled with dread and anticipating a heavy defeat. But what followed was a gutsy response by the Gunners and an equaliser 15 minutes later. Arsene Wenger threw caution to the wind by replacing Mohamed Elneny with Olivier Giroud and we fashioned our second goals moments afterwards. Mertesacker intercepted the ball, turned neatly and found Ramsey in midfield.

The Welshman picked out Hector Bellerin on the right and he produced his second assist of the game, perfectly measuring an angled pass into Alexis Sanchez’s run so the Chilean didn’t have to break stride and could shoot first time past Lloris. It wasn’t the sweetest of connections but he got enough on it to see it bobble past their keeper and restore unlikely parity to proceedings.

After that, both sides had chances with the best one falling to Ramsey very late on after his brilliant run into the box was serviced by an equally impressive through ball by Sanchez. But as Ramsey tried to get a shot away, their defender slid in and nicked the ball away.

Spoils shared then and an impressive achievement by us to secure a point under the circumstances. Yet regret at another two points dropped and perhaps a little frustration that the referee didn’t issue a second yellow for Eric Dier when he clearly deserved one for pulling Olivier Giroud’s shirt. That would have evened up the numbers and given us a great chance to win it, but it wasn’t to be and the incident gets filed in the same draw alongside ones with Diego Costa, who also somehow escaped dismissal against us this season when it was clearly warranted.

The negatives from the game are obvious in that we picked up another totally avoidable red card through our own lack of discipline, which in effect cost us two valuable points. On the plus side, we functioned far better as a team, with Mohamed Elneny impressive in midfield, Ramsey playing far better from the right than he has recently in the middle and grabbing a goal, Gabriel solid at the back, Ospina shining in goal, and Danny Welbeck working hard and being a constant threat up front.

Add in a confidence-boosting goal for Sanchez and things are definitely looking up as far as I’m concerned. We look much more like team with yesterday’s selection of starters so hopefully they can stay fit and firing until the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are ready to return from injury.

Looking ahead, we play Hull in the Cup on Tuesday and then depending on the outcome of that game, next weekend we host either Watford in the quarter-finals or West Brom in the league. Whoever we face though, after yesterday’s showing at White Hart Lane, I’m feeling far more confident that we can actually string a few wins together now, having failed to get even one in our last five games.

See you next week.

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