Tottenham rarely threatened Arsenal in a listless performance that could see them fall too far adrift in the race for the Premier League title.
A goal that never should have happened, or been allowed, changed the complexion of the match, giving Arsenal the lead in the 36th minute. Their lead, though probably deserved, was unjust nonetheless.
Davinson Sánchez expertly nicked the ball from Alexis Sánchez on a well-time slide tackle that Mike Dean inexplicably ruled a foul. He believed Sánchez pulled the Arsenal attacker back before making the tackle, a decision which cost Spurs dearly.
On the resulting free kick, Shkodran Mustafi got the better of Jan Vertonghen in the air, but the German was marginally offside when the ball was played, another call missed by the officials.
Things got worse for Spurs, whose offside trap again failed in the 42nd minute, this time Mesut Ozil breaking free of Vertonghen. The German’s cross was taken well by Sanchez, who was somehow able to smash the ball into the top of the net from an acute angle.
Spurs pressed with relentless energy to start the match but weren’t able to gain control of possession, as Arsenal enjoyed more of the ball in the first stanza.
Eric Dier and Vertonghen committed careless errors, both center backs conceding possession in dangerous positions. Arsenal, however, spurned both offerings.
Other than selling Hugo Lloris short with an ill-advised back pass, Sánchez was Spurs’ best player in the first half. He was unjustly persecuted for a phantom foul against his opponent with the same surname but, otherwise, made some superb tackles.
The Gunners clearly got the better of Tottenham in the first half, with Spurs struggling to hold the ball. More tellingly, their usually proficient counter attack let them down. Harry Kane had a few glimpses of goal, but was kept silent for the most part.
Down two goals, Spurs expectedly dominated possession in the second half. Kane had an early penalty claim which was quickly ignored by Dean. Seconds later, Kane got another glimpse of goal, but his shot was blocked.
Nothing was going Spurs way, who looked oddly impotent in attack. Harry Winks’ introduction didn’t swing momentum in the way Mauricio Pochettino desired.
Kane and Dele’s frustrating outings came to an end in the 75th minute, when Fernando Llorente and Son Heung-Min were provided the opportunity to try swing the tide. The changes have their desired effect, though.
Eric Dier came closest to scoring, his header saved by Cech’s outstretched arm in the 82nd minute.
Tottenham’s seemingly endless house of horrors continues at the Emirates, where the Lilywhites have managed only two wins in their last 33 visits, 18 of which ending in defeat.
Spurs, if Manchester City beat Leicester away this afternoon, will trail the northerners by 11 points, a gap that, based on current goings on, seems insurmountable.
But, with 26 matches still to play, anything is possible, even with the odds heavily – and decidedly – stacked against the Lilywhites.