On the finest of margins can matches, and even seasons, turn. Tottenham were labouring against their bitter rivals, seemingly out of ideas against an Arsenal team that led through Aaron Ramsey and had executed Unai Emery’s gameplan to the letter, Trend reports citing The Guardian.
Spurs were staring at a third consecutive Premier League defeat and the last time that happened was in 2012. The implications were grave. Mauricio Pochettino had conceded that the title was out of reach for his team after the losses at Burnley and Chelsea but another reverse would have imperilled their top-four hopes while simultaneously encouraging Arsenal.
Then Christian Eriksen floated in a 73rd-minute free-kick and everything changed. Harry Kane was in an offside position but, contentiously, it was not spotted. If the Spurs striker had not been ahead of the line, perhaps Shkodran Mustafi would not have felt the need to barge him. But he did and when the penalty was awarded, Kane duly scored his ninth goal in nine north London derbies.
Spurs had their reprieve. Or did they? There was still time for another twist after another controversial penalty award. This time it was for Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the substitute, had the position on Davinson Sánchez and there was some tussling but the Spurs defender did not appear to trip him. Nonetheless, after going down, Aubameyang found himself standing over a last-gasp kick to win it and give Arsenal a sixth win in seven league game.
However, Hugo Lloris read his intentions and dived to save. There was more. When Alex Iwobi crossed from the rebound, Aubameyang looked set to convert from close range only for Jan Vertonghen to make a last-ditch challenge.
At the very end, another Arsenal substitute, Lucas Torreira, was given a straight red card for a high and out-of-control lunge at Danny Rose and, when the dust settled, Spurs could reflect on having stopped the rot and Arsenal nursed feelings of what might have been.
If the nerves were not already jangling for Spurs, they surely were on 15 minutes when Ramsey put Arsenal into a lead that they merited. Emery’s team had looked the more sure-footed and aggressive in the early running and the concession was a disaster from the Spurs point of view.
At first, it felt as though Ramsey had to have been offside when he surged on to Alexandre Lacazette’s pass but the replays would lay bare the full horror of the defensive breakdown. Ramsey was onside because he was inside his own half when the ball was played. Yes, he had the entire Spurs half into which to sprint, round Lloris, hold off the chasing Victor Wanyama and roll home.
The villain of the piece was Sánchez. He committed himself to reaching a ball out of the Arsenal defence in front of Lacazette and, when he missed it, the alarm bells sounded. It was not only a bad misjudgment but a needless decision in the first place.