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Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

Emery defends officials after late penalty drama in north London derby

19:25 EAT 02/03/2019
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Arsenal were denied a win over arch-rivals Spurs by a contentious penalty but their manager was not bitter after seeing his side fail from the spot

Unai Emery refused to criticise the match officials after Harry Kane's controversial penalty rescued a 1-1 draw for Tottenham against Arsenal on Saturday.

The Gunners were leading at Wembley thanks to Aaron Ramsey's early opener when, 16 minutes from time, Spurs were awarded a spot-kick for Shkodran Mustafi's foul on Kane.

Replays showed Kane had been offside before Mustafi's transgression, but Emery was not pointing any accusatory fingers at referee Anthony Taylor and his team, the Spaniard's stance perhaps softened after Arsenal were awarded a late spot-kick of their own.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ultimately denied by Hugo Lloris but had gone down under minimal contact from Davinson Sanchez, while Jan Vertonghen appeared to encroach before denying the Gabon striker on the rebound and, with VAR set to be introduced in the Premier League from 2019-20, Emery acknowledges the officials' jobs should become easier.

"For us it is not a good result because we can win. But I think it can make us stronger in our mentality for the next matches," he told BT Sport.

"One month ago I said to everybody my opinion. VAR is coming for the referees. It is very difficult for the referees.

"You can analyse with the TV and it is very easy. VAR is for them and, with it, maybe the match is different.

"For me the referee had a big personality for two teams. I like this man here to be the referee."

Emery could have been forgiven for cursing Arsenal's luck after seeing Aubameyang miss from the spot and fellow frontman Alexandre Lacazette squander a golden opportunity.

The Spaniard was, however, eager to look for positives rather than dwell on any negatives.

He said of Aubameyang's penalty: "I spoke with him. He had 35 minutes to help us for the victory.

"He did this action and got the penalty. After, you can score or not. It’s not a mistake, it’s one action.

"The same with Laca. He had good chances, but no problem.

"Today we create some good chances but today it’s not enough."

The result keeps Spurs four points ahead of Arsenal in the race for Champions League qualification.