LONDON — A draw wasn’t the result Arsene Wenger wanted on Saturday in the North London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur, but he must have been happy with the spirit his 10-man Gunners showed.
[ POCH: “One team was best. Spurs.” ]
Leading 1-0, Francis Coquelin was sent off in the 55th minute and the game was suddenly turned on its head.
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In the space of three minutes Toby Alderweireld equalized and then Harry Kane scored a stunner to put Tottenham 2-1 up. That said, Arsenal dug deep and failed to crumble, with Alexis Sanchez equalizing 15 minutes from time to make it 2-2 and keep Arsenal in the title race. Just.
Asked in his press conference afterwards if Arsenal — four points behind leaders Leicester City with nine games to go, but the Foxes have a game in hand — still has a shot in winning the title.
“I don’t know. Let’s see what happens over the weekend but we have to take encouragement from today and if we can reproduce that we still have a chance,” Wenger said. “It shows that we had the right spirit and balance in the team, and overall we had a solid performance.”
Wenger also spoke about the pressure put on the Gunners put their own supporters but is hoping his side can finish strong and that others slip up. That said, the Foxes could go five points clear at the top if they beat Watford on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
“The pressure of our supporters is relentless, and I’m in a good position to tell you that,” Wenger smiled. “If Leicester win at Watford, they are in a very good position and they don’t depend on other people’s results.”
Arsenal do, but by digging deep and netting a late equalizer at the home of their bitter rivals, they have kept themselves in the title race by the skin of their teeth. They struggled early on but improved before half time with Danny Welbeck leading the line superbly on his own, plus the midfield duo of Mohamed Elneny and Coquelin doing a decent job of halting Spurs’ midfielder, not to mention Aaron Ramsey‘s audacious back heel for the opening goal. The game turned on the red card but Arsenal regrouped impressively and ground out a draw.
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Had they lost at Spurs on Saturday they would’ve trailed their bitter local rivals by six points with nine games. Now, it’s just four, but Wenger must be wondering “what if?” as Arsenal looked relatively comfortable before Coquelin was justly sent off after receiving two yellows.