Emmanuel Eboue’s sending off in the first half ultimately denied Arsenal from making a better challenge for the match as the Gunners were forced to defend deep. Luka Modric had a great chance in injury time but the lack of overall quality upfront meant Spurs could not capitalise on the numerical advantage.
Tottenham 0-0 Arsenal
It was a compelling match without real conviction and one which was unfortunately decided by the red card to Emmanuel Eboue on 37 minutes. He had already been booked for dissent, a decision which bemused the Ivorian but when the second yellow was shown after an incident with Modric, no one quite knew what for.
Those watching the match on TV will have seen the stat on the bottom of the screen read Mike Dean had sent off the most players this season and it seemed fate had been tempted once again. But the sending off was justified; Eboue inexplicably swinging his leg out at Luka Modric. These were the two best players on the pitch at that moment, the Croatian roaming inside from the left and weaving his magic. Eboue on the other hand was doing the same from the right without the magic. He had a goal disallowed for a slight nudge on Corluka and was also involved in Arsenal’s best moves in the first half.
In fact Arsenal started the nervier of the two sides, giving the ball away on a number of occasions. Spurs were hassling and harrying the Gunners, typified by the all action display from Palacios. It was predicted neither side would be able to dictate the match from central midfield which was the case today. However the red card changed everything even if Tottenham were the better team though not in terms of quality upfront. Pavlyuchnko was wasteful and Keane showed good movement though usually drifting out wide.
After the red card Wenger decided to keep the two upfront in Bendtner and Van Persie, the former coming on for Adebayor. The reason was to attack on the counter but in the centre Arsenal were outnumbered, stretched and giving more work for the full backs. However the Gunners showed everything required of them in answer to the numerical disadvantage, Gallas and Toure immense at the back.
Pat Rice was screaming at the defence to push up while upfront Arsenal’s touch was too heavy. Alex Song had the best chance from the corner as he scuffed wide, Bendtner forced a tip from Cudicini but it was Tottenham through all their possession but no thrust, had the best chance as Modric was denied by Almunia. The celebration from the keeper and Toure at the end of the match said it all; the Gunners were the happier of the two while Spurs felt it was an opportunity missed. But as Arsenal slip further behind, it may also be an opportunity missed for them too.
Arsenal: Almunia (8), Sagna (7), Toure (8), Gallas (8), Clichy (7) [Gibbs (6)], Eboue (6), Song (6), Denilson (5), Nasri (6), Adebayor (5) [Bendtner (5)], Van Persie (6).
Subs not used: Fabianski, Eduardo, Ramsey, Djourou, Arshavin.
Booked: Eboue 17, Clichy 43
Tottenham: Cudicini, Corluka (Chimbonda 74), Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (Taarabt 87), Jenas, Palacios, Modric, Pavlyuchenko (Bent 64), Keane.
Subs Not Used: Gomes, Bale, Zokora, Huddlestone.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
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