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Pochettino makes his point for Spurs aganist Arsenal


rom Gerry Francis to Tim Sherwood Arsène Wenger has beaten every Tottenham manager since 1996, then seen them off for good, nine in all: English, Scots, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese. It is early days, and an air of impermanence hovers over every Spurs’ manager, but Mauricio Pochettino may prove harder to shift.

Here, the Argentine’s developing team secured a battling draw at the Emirates and even scented a rare victory over their bitter rivals when Nacer Chadli put them ahead early in the second half. That dream died when, amid intense pressure, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalised with 16 minutes left.

Many a recent Spurs team would then have folded, but Pochettino’s side made up in steel what they lacked in silk, holding on even with five minutes’ added time. It was their supporters who were singing at the final whistle.

It was not just the two dropped home points that left Arsenal in a funk. Aaron Ramsey suffered a hamstring injury, Mikael Arteta was invalided out with a calf problem, and Jack Wilshere hurt his ankle. The first two may well be out for a month while Wilshere is at the very least doubtful for Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Galatasaray.

By contrast Pochettino seems to have options aplenty, with the latest being Ryan Mason. The boy from Enfield was given a surprise Premier League debut at the grand old age of 23, and after loan spells at Yeovil, Doncaster, Millwall, Swindon and French club Lorient. Mason scored as a substitute for Spurs in midweek, in the Capital One Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, and that was enough to persuade Pochettino to make him one of three changes from the XI beaten at home by West Bromwich Albion in the League last weekend. Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose returned,  with Vlad Chiriches, Eric Dier and Mousa Dembélé omitted.


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Wenger sent out the same team that won 3-0 at Villa Park last Saturday, which meant Alexis Sanchez was on the bench along with Santi Cazorla and, perhaps surprisingly given this was a derby, Mathieu Flamini. Not that any team with Wilshere is going to lack midfield bite. It was no surprise that he was soon into what became a lengthy list of cautions in Michael Oliver’s book during a first half that promised more than it delivered.

Arsenal, for much of the half, were in control but rarely stretched Hugo Lloris. Arsenal’s best opportunity fell to Danny Welbeck, who skinned Vertonghen on the halfway line and sped away, but delayed his shot long enough for Younes Kaboul to make a crucial block.

Tottenham perked up towards  the end of the half but Emmanuel Adebayor, to the delight of the home support, Christian Eriksen and Chadli, each wasted fine opportunities, barely testing Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsenal continued to look the brighter side after the break but were undone by an error of their own making shortly before the hour. Calum Chambers fed Flamini deep in his own half but the Frenchman dallied and was mugged by Eriksen. The ball was switched by Erik Lamela to Chadli who, this time, finished sweetly inside the far post.

Within a minute Arsenal almost levelled, Per Mertesacker heading a set-piece towards the right goal but being athletically denied by Lloris.

These events finally woke the home support, who roared Arsenal on. With Wilshere limping, and close to a second yellow, Sanchez came on to fill the creative void left by Mesut Özil’s inability to repeat last week’s performance at Villa.

The pressure built, but Spurs looked secure, until Lamela made a hash of a simple clearance. The ball came to Sanchez who squared to  Cazorla. His shot was diverted by Kaboul causing it to elude Welbeck but not Oxlade-Chamberlain. who lashed it in at the far post .

Arsenal went for the jugular, penning Spurs back, but with Chambers’ attempt to repeat Phil Jagielka’s derby dazzler fizzing just over the bar, Spurs held on. They had not seen much of the ball, and Wenger’s complaints about time-wasting had some validity.

“They took every second to make the game last,” he said. “They tried to gain time to slow the game down. The referee should have done something about it. People pay money in the stands to watch football. He should book them straight away.”

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