Aubameyang fluffs late Arsenal penalty to hand Spurs controversial draw

Hugo Lloris celebrates with Harry Kane and teammates after saving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty[/caption] 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. 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. Lacazette had snatched at a second minute chance after Iwobi’s pass had deflected through to him – he looked offside, although there was no flag – and there was a certain vulnerability to Spurs. Given that Pochettino started with three centre-halves and Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko in front of the defence, there ought not to have been but they were so determined to press high and spark moves with early turnovers that there was space in behind for Arsenal to exploit. Iwobi almost did so in the 42nd minute, running at Kieran Trippier and curling a shot for the far corner. Lloris dived to save. It was an entertaining spectacle; Spurs pushing, Arsenal punching on the counter. Spurs made attacking inroads after the midway point of the first-half and they would have been level at the interval but for a marvellous double stop from Bernd Leno on 44 minutes. Kane sprang Eriksen clear of Arsenal’s offside trap with a dinked ball and, from close-range, the midfielder saw Leno leave his line quickly, close the space and block the volley. Sissoko guided the rebound back towards goal only for Leno to regain his footing, plunge to his left and save. Spurs had seen a thumping Kane header from Trippier’s free-kick correctly ruled out for offside and they were on the front foot. Son Heung-min almost tricked his way through a crowded defence but he had too many men to beat and this was a key point – in the first half, Arsenal defended well in numbers. In the one-on-one duels, they impressed, too – particularly Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Emery swapped Lacazette with Aubameyang in the 56th minute and, by then, his team might have been further in front. The chance had been created for Lacazette, from Nacho Monreal’s cut-back after Iwobi’s pass but the striker side-footed wide of the far post. Source]]>

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