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Unable to take advantage

Posted on 8 February 2009  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp's side were held to a goal-less draw by North London rivals Arsenal in the derby at White Hart Lane - despite the visitors playing most of the match with 10 men.

Unable to take advantage

Harry Redknapp's side were held to a goal-less draw by North London rivals Arsenal in the derby at White Hart Lane - despite the visitors playing most of the match with 10 men.

Emmanuel Eboue was sent off for a second bookable offence after an off-the-ball incident with Luka Modric in the 37th minute, but we were unable to press home our man advantage.

But the result keeps an impressive home record under Redknapp's guidance in tact - we have still only lost once at The Lane since he took charge.

The manager made two changes from the side defeated at Bolton last Saturday. Jermaine Jenas came into the midfield in place of Didier Zokora and, as expected, Robbie Keane made his second Spurs debut having rejoined from Liverpool last week to start up front alongside Roman Pavlyuchenko.

It was Robbie who led the side out as captain, and it didn't take long before he was right back in the thick of the action leading our line.

After just three minutes, the Irishman put William Gallas under pressure, forcing the Frenchman to take a wild swipe at the ball in an attempt to clear, felling Keane in the process in the box. However, penalty appeals were turned down by referee Mike Dean.

The first real chance of the derby fell to the visitors after six minutes, when Eboue linked up with Robin Van Persie and burst into the box before firing across the face of goal and wide.

We answered back two minutes later when Aaron Lennon cut inside off the right and forced Manuel Almunia into his first save of the match with a left foot shot.

This exchange set the tone for the first half as the football was end-to-end with chances created by both sides in a typically pumped-up derby clash.

On 14 minutes, Eboue went foraging into our box again, pulling the ball across the face of goal for Emmanuel Adebayor, who was shut out by a cluster of Spurs defenders.

Eboue picked up on the ball as it went loose and slammed into the net, but Jonathan Woodgate was adjudged to have been tripped by Adebayor during the melee, and the goal was ruled out.

At the other end a minute later, a great chance fell to an unmarked Pavlyuchenko in the box after Benoit Assou-Ekotto's ball in, but the Russian snatched at a volley which sailed well over.

But we were applying pressure to the visitors all over the field and were starting to get on top of the game.

Modric was beginning to have a similar influence in this encounter as he did in his man of the match display in our last home game with Stoke and, on 28 minutes, he fizzed a ball out to the right where Lennon nipped in front of Gael Clichy, got into the box, but dragged his shot wide in our best chance of the half.

Arsenal's main threat was coming from counter-attacks, and even defender Kolo Toure ventured forward into our box on 29 minutes and pulled across the face of goal, but Carlo Cudicini did well to cut it out.

Almunia was called into action again three minutes later, palming a Modric shot from the edge of the box wide, and once again, Arsenal went straight back down the other end.

Vedran Corluka was caught in possession on the by-line by Adebayor, whose centre was an open invite for a tap-in - but none of his team-mates were in sight, and Assou-Ekotto was able to clear to safety.

That was to be Adebayor's last action of the half, as on 36 minutes, he pulled up when chasing down a long ball and had to be stretchered off.

Things went bad to worse for the Gunners moments later when the lively Eboue received his marching orders. Modric was also booked in the fracas.

It was now left to us to make the most of the man advantage, and we finished the half the stronger side.

Wilson Palacios had made a fantastic start to his home debut and, fittingly, it was he who forced Almunia into a fine save just before the break with a fierce 25-yard effort.

As the second half started, we continued to press, with good chances falling to each of our strikers in the first 15 minutes.

Five minutes into the half, Pavlyuchenko cut inside of Toure and went into the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, but fired high and wide.

Then, seven minutes later, Lennon put in a teasing cross from the right and Keane got in front of Almunia, only to glance his header onto the roof of the net.

Despite being down to 10 men, Arsenal had not given up hope of getting more than just a point from the game, and did apply second half pressure of their own in spells.

On 67 minutes, Samir Nasri scuffed a corner, but it fell at the feet of Van Persie at the near post, who fired wide.

Three minutes later, the Dutchman took a corner of his own, and Alex Song got in front of Palacios six yards out and turned wide.

We were waiting for that little bit of Robbie Keane magic, perhaps, to break the deadlock in this tight encounter, and that so nearly came on 71 minutes.

He picked up on a bouncing ball 20 yards out and hit a beautifully-struck trademark volley agonisingly wide of Almunia's right hand post.

The last 20 minutes were tense, but we had to wait until the dying moments for our best chance of the second half.

Adel Taarabt, a late substitute for Lennon, broke away and played in Modric who closed in on goal with just Almunia to beat - but the Croatian could not find a way past the Spaniard.

It could have been so much worse as, moments earlier, we had Cudicini to thank for pulling off a fine save to deny Nicklas Bendtner.

So we continue to look for our first league win over our biggest rivals in 10 years, although we are now unbeaten in four games against the Gunners in all competitions.


Spurs (4-4-2): Cudicini; Corluka (Chimbonda, 75), Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Taarabt, 86), Palacios, Jenas, Modric; Pavlyuchenko (Bent, 64), Keane
Subs not used: Gomes, Bale, Zokora, Huddlestone

Arsenal (4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy (Gibbs, 87); Eboue, Song, Denilson, Nasri; Adebayor (Bendtner, 38), Van Persie
Subs not used: Fabianski, Eduardo, Ramsey, Djourou, Arshavin