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Premier League

  • 20 April 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • White Hart Lane, London
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 36138

Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal: Gunners’ title hopes rocked as Spurs come from behind in scintillating north London derby

Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal: Gunners’ title hopes rocked as Spurs come from behind in scintillating north London derby

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Arsene Wenger's men fall into third after being held, while Harry Redknapp's charges are two points behind fourth-placed Manchester City

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Failure to hold onto a lead continues to be a thorn in Arsenal's title hunt this term and allowing Tottenham to secure a 3-3 draw, after being 3-1 ahead, has left Arsene Wenger's men trailing Manchester United by six points.

To add further sting, Wenger's charges slip into third on goal difference after Chelsea brushed aside Birmingham City in their fixture on Wednesday evening. But the real concern for the Frenchman will be the way his side surrendered a two-goal advantage in such an uncontrolled fashion.

Just two minutes after Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a flying start, Rafael van der Vaart was able to unlock Wenger's defence, and while Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie appeared to hand the visitors a comfortable half-time advantage, Tom Huddlestone once again proved the defensive brittleness of a side who seem destined to be without a trophy in six seasons.

For Spurs, their comeback is deserving of a piece of silverware on its own. The fight and guile which has been embodied in their Champions League campaign, up until their clash with Real Madrid, was transferred to White Hart Lane once more, and Harry Redknapp will be buoyed his side are now just two points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.

Arsenal came out of the traps with purpose and positivity. The game begun in a style often expected of local derbies, fast, fluid and frantic and within five minutes the opening goal had rocked the home crowd.

Cesc Fabregas, so often a tormentor of Spurs, made the most of Huddlestone’s error to feed Walcott with a superb pass. The through ball delivered by the Spaniard left Michael Dawson trailing and the winger burst through and finished neatly.

The frantic tempo of the game didn’t subside and within three minutes Spurs had wiped out the Arsenal advantage through a pin-point long ball from Vedran Corluka which Van der Vaart controlled magnificently and hammered beyond Wojciech Szczesny to level the tie.

Rescuer | Rafael van der Vaart's brace has kept Tottenham's fourth-place hopes alive

Arsenal didn’t take kindly to this affront from their local neighbours and once again showed the undeniable quality they do possess, but often, frustratingly fail to impose. Nasri was left unchecked and this flaw in the Tottenham defence was punished as the Frenchman made Heurelho Gomes look ordinary as he beat him low to his right.

Walcott had a chance to increase the lead but his low, cutting drive took the lightest of deflections off the right hand of Gomes to slide wide of the post.

Walcott’s influence on the game stretched to more than just scoring the goals. With a terrific chipped cross on the byline, Walcott crafted a goal for Van Persie which made the scoreline 3-1.

Credit to Tottenham for exhibiting the tenacity required to keep this close and once again Harry Redknapp’s side bounced back through a Huddlestone goal which atoned for his earlier error. A header from Peter Crouch was poorly cleared by Fabregas and the Spurs midfielder smashed the ball back into the danger area leaving Szczesny unsighted.

As the half drew to a close, it could have been all square when Luca Modric's run was halted by Johan Djourou. Referee Martin Atkinson waved away the protests and on reflection a penalty award may have been harsh.

The second half continued in a similar fashion and Fabregas had a perfect chance to get on the end of a Walcott cross but the Spaniard failed to fully anticipate the ball.

But Spurs’s resilience paid off and after Aaron Lennon was brought down by Szczesny in the box, Van der Vaart stepped up to take the resulting penalty and fired Redknapp’s men to a point.

Chances continued to flow for both sides but the enthralling tie had reached its limit for goals. For the red half of north London, it appears another title challenge could be slipping from their grasp, while for the white half, Redknapp’s men find themselves in a similar position of requiring another barnstorming finish to pip Manchester City to fourth spot.

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