Despite all of the pre-match anticipation and excitement, the north London derby was not a memorable one for Arsenal.
During his post-match media duties, Arsène Wenger agreed that it was two points lost rather than a point gained for the hosts on Sunday afternoon.
Kevin Wimmer’s own goal from Mesut Özil’s free-kick delivery meant the Gunners went into the half-time interval with a slender lead, but Harry Kane made no mistake from the penalty spot to punish Laurent Koscielny and gift Spurs a way back into proceedings.
When asked about his assessment on the game itself, Wenger remained fairly positive and admitted the result was perhaps a fair one upon reflection.
As quoted by the club’s official website, “It was a game of high intensity where I felt in the first-half we looked always like we could score every time we crossed the halfway line and in the second-half we looked a bit more flat physically, a bit less sharp and couldn’t find the creativity, the fluency around the box nor the vision we are used to.
“I think our level dropped and we were a bit too stretched as well. Spurs defended well on some crosses in the final 10 to 15 minutes, I feel there were some balls where the fact that despite three tall players we couldn’t make enough of corners and we missed some crosses as well. So overall it was high intensity, technically I think our level dropped in the second half and the desire was there. Maybe the result is fair.”
Having comeback from a two-goal deficit to prevail 3-2 away in Bulgaria against Ludogorets on Tuesday, suggestions were made post-match that Arsenal’s performance was consequently affected by their midweek trip.
Tottenham started well and this meant players had to cover extra ground in an attempt to keep Spurs frustrated in the midfield third. Pressing as a collective unit isn’t one of Arsenal’s strengths and this potentially had an adverse effect on the players physically after Kane’s equaliser.
“Did we get a little bit of a mental blow when they equalised? I don’t know. But overall I felt that when we were questioned in the final 30 minutes, we had no physical answer good enough to win the game. But we tried. I cannot question the spirit and the intensity of the game, but we looked a bit flat.”
Spurs’ three-at-the-back formation was a surprise tactic in amongst the pre-match team news but given the absence of Toby Alderweireld in the centre of defence, it was “not the basic problem” for Arsenal in terms of being able to counter their plan.
Having had 11 shots in the match, as well as creating a number of promising opportunities, it made for frustrating viewing – but Wenger was content with effort levels given the fierce intensity of the derby itself.
“I felt that we gave absolutely everything but we were not as sharp physically as we can be in the final part of the game.”