By Chris Harris at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal came from behind to rescue a point in a frantic, action-packed north London derby.
Nacer Chadli gave Tottenham a second-half lead after Mathieu Flamini was caught in possession by Christian Eriksen, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed home an equaliser with 16 minutes left.
It was the least Arsenal deserved after making most of the running despite losing their midfield triumvirate - Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere - to injury.
Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck tested the Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris while Wojciech Szczesny had little to do at the other end.
When you're staring a derby defeat in the face, most of us would take a draw. But Arsenal bossed this compelling match and can count themselves unlucky not to emerge with local bragging rights.
SETTING THE SCENE
Arsene Wenger sprang something of a surprise before kick-off, leaving Alexis Sanchez on the bench. Wilshere was the only change from Arsenal's last Premier League game, replacing Santi Cazorla as Wenger added ballast to his midfield for the derby battle.
Flamini, who made his second debut for Arsenal in last year's corresponding fixture, was on the bench after shrugging off a leg injury.
This would be a first north London derby for Calum Chambers and Welbeck but a 44th for Wenger, who was chasing his 22nd win over a 10th different Tottenham manager. His first 'victim' was Gerry Francis back in November 1996.
History was on Arsenal's side - Spurs had won just one of their last 21 top-flight trips across town and lost all three meetings last season. The form book favoured the Gunners too, but the usual derby mantra applied - win if you can, just don't lose.
As ever the expectancy, tension and noise inside Emirates Stadium was cranked up for the most eagerly-awaited home game of the season.
This derby began as so many do - frantic and committed with very little room for creativity. Tackles were snapped into and decisions contested as every player - like every fan - gave that little bit extra.
Arsenal looked more composed when it mattered and derby debutant Welbeck was at the heart of their best moments.
His tracking back was a feature of the first half and he won possession in the fifth minute, feeding Wilshere who advanced on goal and picked out Ramsey to his right. The Welshman's first-time shot went straight at Lloris.
Welbeck was the next to threaten, showing great skill to turn his man in the 14th minute and race towards goal. He shimmied outside Younes Kaboul but the Tottenham captain read the situation and blocked Welbeck's shot.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was making inroads down the right and his deep cross in the 21st minute was retrieved beyond the far post by Welbeck, who cleverly fashioned space for a shot which Lloris got everything behind.
Another Oxlade-Chamberlain cross almost wrong-footed Lloris after taking a deflection and, as the half wore on Arsenal seemed to be turning the screw.
Welbeck's cute lay-off allowed Wilshere to warm Lloris' palms with a fiercely-struck shot, but the home side lost some momentum when Arteta succumbed to injury. Flamini replaced the captain, and there was another concern moments later when Wilshere went over on his ankle.
Tottenham finished the half strongly and this derby's pantomime villain - Emmanuel Adebayor - would have had a clear sight of goal had his control not let him down.
Mertesacker almost beat Szczesny with a header from a Tottenham corner and Nacer Chadli shot weakly after being played through.
Arsenal did test Lloris again - through Oxlade-Chamberlain - but they lost another midfielder before the break when Ramsey hobbled off.
If Wilshere was feeling the effects of that nasty fall on his ankle, he didn't show it. A few minutes after the restart, a trademark surge sparked a flowing move that ended with Kaboul hacking away a Cazorla shot inside his six-yard box.
Wilshere was at it again moments later with a deft first-time ball into the path of Mesut Ozil, but the German's shot was blocked by Lloris.
Cazorla, on for the injured Ramsey, looked in the mood, and his tenacity won back possession deep inside Tottenham territory, allowing Gibbs to cross and Kaboul to clear again.
The pressure was mounting but Arsenal were rocked by a self-inflicted wound in the 56th minute.
There appeared to be no danger when Mertesacker played the ball out of defence to Flamini, but the Frenchman was caught on the ball by Christian Eriksen. He fed Lamela and he played in Chadli, who found the bottom corner.
Arsenal had to respond. Two minutes later they so nearly did, Mertesacker soaring to power in a header that Lloris pushed away.
Wenger played his final card, bringing on Alexis for the valiant Wilshere. But it was an unlikely source who was next to go close, Chambers firing a sweet volley inches over the crossbar.
With 16 minutes remaining, Arsenal did find a way through. Alexis’ shot caused consternation in the Spurs box, Welbeck swung and missed and Oxlade-Chamberlain found the top corner.
The relief was palpable and the home side pushed forward in search of a winner. But Spurs defended well in the closing stages and clung on for a draw that they probably didn't deserve.
Referee: Michael Oliver
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