Tottenham conceded a goal after 113 seconds and despite an improved and battling performance Spurs were unable to find a way through a resolute Arsenal defence at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Arsenal 1
Team: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Sandro (Paulinho) Bentaleb; Chadli (Sigurdsson), Eriksen (Soldado), Townsend; Adebayor Subs: Friedel, Walker, Lennon, Kane
Tim Sherwood brought in Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend to face Arsenal at White Hart Lane. With doubts over Kyle Walker’s fitness, he was among the substitutes with Kyle Naughton at right back. Bentaleb replaced Paulinho with Townsend preferred to Aaron Lennon and Chadli starting in place of Harry Kane. Those who had started against Benfica joined Walker on the bench.
Arsenal made a sensational start with a goal after 113 seconds. Sandro gave the ball away in the opposing half and the visitors broke on the right through Rosicky. With Rose forward, Rosicky carried the ball towards the Spurs area and played it in to Chamberlain who had a fortunate break as the ball bounced back for Rosicky to thunder a shot across Hugo Lloris and into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box.
From that point on Tottenham dominated possession with 63% at half-time, getting the ball into the Arsenal area but without finding a telling pass to create a real opening or to test the goalkeeper. Arsenal were pushed back, only threatening on the break and could have doubled their advantage after 14 minutes when Chamberlain went past Bentaleb on the half-way line but shot well wide from the edge of the area.
For all their possession Spurs didn’t manage a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and while Townsend and Naughton combined well on the right to trouble Arsenal there was no end product with the final cross or pass being cut out or failing to find the intended player. Adebayor was troubling Arsenal as Spurs looked to get him behind the central defenders but without getting in any shots.
Arsenal looked to break quickly and Lloris headed the ball away from danger from outside his area. From a corner, Arsenal flicked the ball on but Lloris held it easily. Eriksen curled a free-kick over the bar after 28 minutes.
At the start of the second half Spurs had two opportunities to get level when the Arsenal goalkeeper struggled to deal with a high ball into the area. On 47 minutes he challenged for a ball on the edge of the area with Adebayor, it fell to Chaldi but a defender got his foot in to clear the danger. Within seconds the goalkeeper failed to gather a high ball, only getting his finger tips to it. It again dropped to Chadli who took a second touch and when he shot the two central defenders were in position to block the effort.Spurs continued to dominate possession and push Arsenal back although an under-hit pass by Vertonghen was picked up by Rosicky who threatened but Sandro managed to recover the situation. Naughton and Townsend delivered numerous crosses into the area but without Spurs ever managing to get a crucial touch. Arsenal still threatened on the break and Kaboul put in a vital clearance on one such occasion.
In spite of having greater possession Spurs didn’t threaten and Arsenal defended stoutly with numbers back. As time went on Spurs started to flag in spite of Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson coming on and this gave Arsenal more opportunity to control the pace of the game, slowing it down at every opportunity.
In the final minutes Spurs pushed forward and Adebayor manufactured a chance fon the edge of the area but his shot was saved by Szczesny in the 88th minute. In their effort and frustration to get a goal, Spurs managed to pick up 5 bookings, including Roberto Soldado who hardly touched the ball in his 8 minutes on the pitch.
There was effort and endeavour from Spurs, Tim Sherwood had got a response from his players but not a result. With 8 games remaining, Spurs now find themselves 7 points behind 4th-placed Manchester City who have played three games less and 9 behind Arsenal and Liverpool who have 9 games to play.
There was effort and commitment but not the telling pass or understanding between the players to open up the Arsenal defence which were comfortable in holding the early advantage gained from Rosicky’s wonder strike.