A rollercoaster of a north London derby saw Arsenal take the lead through Aaron Ramsey before allowing Spurs back in before the game finally ended 2-2 at White Hart Lane.
Francis Coquelin was dismissed for a second yellow card shortly after half-time and Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane gave the hosts the lead before Alexis Sánchez levelled the scores with quarter of an hour remaining.
There were surprises on the teamsheet as Aaron Ramsey was moved wide and Mohamed Elneny came into midfield for his full Premier League debut. Kieran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal, struggling with a calf problem, and Danny Welbeck was given the nod up front.
A frenetic start to the game was dominated by Spurs, who had the majority of the ball and a number of half chances. With Arsenal picking up a couple yellow cards when breaking up the hosts’ rhythm and failing to build any pressure themselves. The biggest moment of the opening stages saw David Ospina, in for the injured Petr Čech, react amazingly to deny Erik Lamela the opener.
With around 30 minutes on the clock, the Gunners began to settle and six minutes shy of half-time the deadlock was broken. Danny Welbeck, who had been dangerous all game, troubled Spurs down the left and cut the ball back. Héctor Bellerín and Aaron Ramsey had arguably been Arsenal’s worst players of the half, but combined to deliver Spurs’ worst nightmare. The Welshman tucked away a low ball with a beautifully intuitive flick.
The goal sparked something in the Gunners and doubt set in around White Hart Lane; suddenly Arsenal were the dominant force and Tottenham looked rushed, panicky, nervous.
Coming out after the break, Arsenal looked far more relaxed and in control. Until Spurs broke down the left, and an already booked Francis Coquelin brought Harry Kane down. Second booking, red card, advantage Spurs.
David Ospina saved the ball (just – thanks goal line technology) from one set-piece, but Toby Alderweireld scored from the next one to equalise. It didn’t take long for Harry Kane to complete the turnaround, and with just over 30 minutes to go Arsenal were left staring into the abyss of being six points behind their north London rivals.
The following 15 minutes saw Arsenal struggle to get forward, but the Gunners were encouraged on when Arsène Wenger sacrificed Mohamed Elneny for Olivier Giroud. There was an instant impact, with Héctor Bellerín teeing up Alexis Sánchez to score his first goal in the league since October.
Had Eric Dier, already booked, been sent off as he should have been after tugging back Olivier Giroud the final 10 minutes may have been a lot more even.
Mathieu Flamini came on for the excellent Danny Welbeck with six minutes remaining and the scores still tied. An Alexis Sánchez free-kick was comfortably saved by Hugo Lloris and Gabriel was inches from scoring a spectacular own goal with a failed clearance.
A point was both disappointing and encouraging in the circumstances, but Arsenal fans won’t escape the feeling that Coquelin’s red card cost the side the chance to win. Ultimately a draw saves face, but may not be enough to help Arsenal claw their way back into contention for the title.