By Richard Clarke
A long-range strike from Jermaine Jenas deep into injury time prevented Arsenal completing another memorable comeback at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The visitors seemed to have secured the sweetest of victories before the England midfielder fired low into the corner of Jens Lehmann's net with only seconds to go.
It was scant reward for Arsenal who had dominated the 90 minutes. Robbie Keane put Tottenham ahead on the half-hour against the run of play and it seemed like it was not to be Arsène Wenger's day as his side hit the woodwork three times before equalising in the 64th minute.
Substitute Cesc Fabregas floated a free kick to the far post and Kolo Toure bundled home a low shot. Fourteen minutes later, the Spanish teenager found the head of Emmanuel Adebayor with another dead-ball and the Togolese striker nodded home his first goal in nine games.
The Tottenham challenge seemed to be spent and Arsenal were happy to play out time. But with the four minutes of injury time up, Jenas let fly from range and the visitors were forced to settle for a point.
Wenger had two doubts going into game but both recovered sufficiently to be involved. Freddie Ljungberg (hamstring) reprised his role as the support to Adebayor. Fabregas (virus) only made the bench.
You could argue there was relatively little play for in this particularly derby game. Arsenal had all but secured a Champions League spot while Tottenham were scrapping it out for seventh and the Uefa Cup spot it brought.
However in truth there is no such thing as a low-key game between Arsenal and Tottenham. The atmosphere inside White Hart Lane ahead of this game was as intense as it ever was and, as usual, it inspired the home side into a fast start.
Martin Jol's side poured forward from the first whistle but they created only half-chances at best. In fact the first real chance came in the 10th minutes and ended up with the ball flying into the Tottenham net. Eboue drove the ball to Ljungberg just outside the area and his flick on was thumped home by Adebayor. The Togolese striker held his head in anguish when he saw the assistant referee's flag. However replays showed it was not Adebayor who was offside but Ljungberg.
The chance helped Arsenal to settle and soon the began to flex their muscles. In the 19th minute, Rosicky nudged the ball into Adebayor on the edge of the area. He held off his marker and flicked it to Ljungberg just outside the area. However the Swedish sliced his shot high bar.
Arsenal seemed to have wrestled the initiative. However Tottenham's opener was just around the corner. In the 29th minute, Berbatov bustled down the right, evaded Clichy and reached the byline only for Gallas to bundle his shot into the sidenetting.
As the corner was taken there was a skirmish in the area. When the dust had settled, Mike Dean booked Jens Lehmann, Abou Diaby and Berbatov. Perhaps the delay unsettled Arsenal because when Jenas tossed the ball into the area once more, Michael Dawson nodded it down and Keane steered in a close-range header at the far post. It was cruel fortune on Arsenal. At the time of the goal the statistics said the visitors had enjoyed two-thirds of the possession.
Matters got worse for Arsenal soon afterwards when Ljungberg seemingly succumbed his hamstring injury and limped off. Fabregas came off the bench and Diaby moved into the role of support striker
Tottenham threatened a second when Berbatov flicked the ball to Keane who hooked his first-time shot straight at Lehmann. However Arsenal would fashion a great chance for equaliser just before the break
Eboue ghosted into area, swapped passes with Fabregas and thumped a cross shot against the post. The ball bounced out to Adebayor who could only slice his shot over the bar.
It had been that sort of half for Arsenal.
Within five minutes of the restart, the visitors had hit the woodwork again. Fabregas fired in a corner from the right and Toure flashed a header against the outside of the far post. In the 54th minute, the Spaniard saw a long-range drive drift just wide of Paul Robinson's goal. The Arsenal fight back was on.
Just before the hour, the visitors hit the woodwork yet again. Clichy did well to reach the byline and his curling cross was met by the head of Adebayor. The ball arched high into the air and bounced off the top of the goal with Robinson nowhere.
A goal seemed to be coming. It arrived in the 64th minute. Fabregas chipped a free-kick to the far post where Toure volleyed in a low shot off Robinson. It was only his 11th goal in his 241st game for Arsenal
As with the opening goal, Wenger was forced into a substitution before the cheers has subsided. Rosicky hobbled off and Baptista came on.
Suddenly Tottenham were nervous. Hleb fed Baptista whose goal-bound shot was charged down then Eboue rifled a shot across the face of goal.
Thirteen minutes from time, Arsenal took the lead. Eboue was fouled on the right by substitute Tom Huddlestone. Again Fabregas took the free-kick and again floated it to the far post. Adebayor rose above the Tottenham defence to steer his header into the top corner of the net. White Hart Lane was stunned as they faced up to another Arsenal comeback.
Baptista could have made the points safe two minutes from time but he nodded wide after good work from Adebayor. However, by that time, Tottenham seemed to be a spent force.
Unfortunately there would be a twist in the tail.
- Lehmann Yellow Card
- Toure Goal!
- Diaby Yellow Card
- Hleb 90
- Rosicky 66
- Ljungberg 40
- Adebayor Goal!
- Senderos 90
- Fabregas 40
- Julio Baptista 66
- Jenas Goal!
- Tainio 60
- Lennon 72
- Zokora 82 Yellow Card
- Berbatov Yellow Card
- Keane Goal!
- Huddlestone 72
- Malbranque 60
- Defoe 82