What a derby. I went through every emotion in what was a game that had it all.
It was arguably the biggest North London derby ever, certainly in my lifetime, as both teams were going for the title and so much was at stake.
I was very nervous before the game because I knew it would be really tough as it always is at White Hart Lane but especially because they have played surprisingly well this season and we have been struggling recently losing two league games back to back.
So this game was so crucial to the title race and definitely the biggest match of the season for us. It was time for our big players to step up.
Wenger once again made a few changes to the side who lost to Swansea. Ospina had to come in for an injured Cech (which was a big reason why I was so nervous) and Gibbs surprisingly replaced Monreal. I don’t think this was such a bad decision though because Gibbs scored against them in the reverse fixture and he is English so arguably understands what this game means more than Monreal.
Other changes to the side were that Elneny came in alongside Coquelin for his first league start and what a game to make your debut in! I think this was also a good decision because we needed more stability in the midfield to cope with Spurs.
Ramsey wasn’t dropped though and went onto the right wing like he has done before. The last change was that Welbeck started up front instead of our leading goalscorer Giroud but again I thought this was the right decision because Welbeck has more pace, desire and is an all round better player than Giroud (as well as being English like Gibbs).
After some battles from fans outside the ground the real battle kicked off on the pitch and it was Spurs who started the strongest.
You could definitely tell they were targeting Ospina as they took shots at will at him but none was successful. Lamela had their best chance forcing a great save from him and maybe I didn’t need to be so nervous after all.
We couldn’t really get into the game at all as Spurs pressed really well and won the ball back every time we got it. It was a tight and scrappy game in the middle of the park and it really needed a goal to open the game up.
A goal did come before half time and fortunately it came from Arsenal as we silenced the home crowd with our first attempt on goal. It came out of nothing really as we broke with Welbeck who crossed it to Bellerin and he set up Ramsey who then brilliantly back heeled it into the back of the net.
I went absolutely crazy but knew there was a long way to go and we were leading last year in this fixture only for them to comeback and win so we needed to hold on this time.
This goal must have given our players a much needed confidence boost though and we grew into the game until half time.
So 1-0 at half time and we needed to carry on playing the same way to get a massive win.
The second half however started with controversy. As a defensive midfielder you get sent off from time to time and Coquelin’s time was today. It was stupid from him as you have to be extra careful when you are on a yellow especially in such a big game. So we were down to 10 men and really had to hold on now.
This changed the game completely as Spurs really got back into the game and got the equaliser just five minutes after the sending off. After a great save from Ospina to deny Kane requiring goal line technology which showed it was millimetres (the closest I’ve ever seen) from going in they scored from a similar chance through in form defender Alderweireld.
This was followed only two minutes later by Englishman and ex Arsenal youth player (he’s one of our own) Harry Kane. It was a great goal as he curled it around Ospina to put them ahead.
It was at this point where I thought we would get destroyed – 2-1 down with only 10 men. At last however we finally started showing some passion and quality that has been missing recently.
It again came out of nothing as we attacked and Bellerin assisted again (the new Özil?) this time for another out of form player in Alexis Sanchez. He finished well to score his first goal in the league since October.
So it was somehow 2-2 and I definitely would have taken a draw with 10 men. Spurs should have actually had a player sent off as well as Dier fouled substitute Giroud but the referee got it wrong. However Bellerin also could have been sent off later on in the game.
Both teams went for the much needed winner and Gabriel so nearly scored an own goal which had Ospina (who was actually man of the match) beaten. He did definitely prove his worth in the absence of Cech which was great to see. He actually made the most saves (9) by an Arsenal goalkeeper in the premier league since 2009 which is amazing.
After a nightmare TV collapse the last chance fell to us and it was Ramsey again who should have scored. He took too long to shoot and the game ended in a draw.
A classic derby but it was a result neither team really wanted. However considering we had 10 men and the way we have been playing recently it was a better result for us. Spurs will feel like they lost and hopefully this will damage their confidence and form as a result.
Following Leicester’s win later on in the day we are now 8 points behind them. I think they will crumble though and we still have a chance along with Tottenham and Man City. It will be so interesting to see what will happen in the end but we really need to go on a good run now like we have done in other years.
Next up for us is Hull away in the FA Cup fifth round replay on Tuesday and it is definitely a game we could do without. However it needs to be done and hopefully we will win and go a step further to winning the competition a really impressive three times in a row.
Who knows we might have more than one trophy at the end of the season!