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Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tottenham 0-0 Arsenal

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at White Hart Lane

Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue is shown the red card against Tottenham at White Hart Lane
Eboue did his side no favours by getting himself sent off

Robbie Keane drew a blank on his return to White Hart Lane as Arsenal survived the first-half dismissal of Emmanuel Eboue to earn a point against Tottenham in the north London derby.

Arsene Wenger's side - who also lost Emmanuel Adebayor to a hamstring injury and left new signing Andrey Arshavin as an unused substitute - will be happier with the stalemate after a frenetic encounter short on quality.

In reality, however, the result did little to help Spurs' bid to escape the Premier League danger zone or the Gunners' attempts to force their way into the top four.

Eboue was sent off by referee Mike Dean after 37 minutes for lashing out at Luka Modric, after earlier being needlessly booked for dissent.

Keane had a busy debut, flashing a header just over and shooting narrowly wide in the second half, but Arsenal's rearguard action ensured Spurs must wait to end their sequence of failing to beat their arch-rivals in the Premier League since 1999.

The home side enjoyed superiority in terms of possession and territory, and it took a vital block from Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia to deny Modric when he raced clear in injury time.


Modric and Aaron Lennon also forced earlier saves from Almunia, while Roman Pavlyuchenko missed two good opportunities.

Arsenal rarely threatened at the other end, but when they did Alex Song wasted their best chance when he shot wide from eight yards following a corner.

Tottenham keeper Carlo Cudicini was relatively untroubled until he turned over a shot from Nicklas Bendtner late on.

Wenger will be satisfied with the resilience demonstrated by his 10 men, but he cut an animated and frustrated figure for much of the afternoon.

He insisted his side were never in serious trouble, despite playing with a man less, and was furious that Eboue was denied what he felt was a legitimate goal in the 14th minute when referee Dean ruled Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate had been fouled.

The loss of two more points surely kills off any lingering suggestion that Arsenal might be involved in the Premier League title race, and increases the pressure in their attempt to break into the Champions League places.

Wenger hits out at 'unacceptable' decison

Spurs gave newly appointed captain Keane an instant debut after his return from a miserable spell at Liverpool - but Wenger decided to keep Arshavin on the bench.

The visitors' main danger in a fiercely contested first half came down the flanks, with Eboue an early threat after being played in by Robin van Persie.

But Harry Redknapp's side had moments of their own, with Lennon's low drive producing a save from Almunia and Pavlyuchenko shooting over from a promising position.

Modric has shown signs of flourishing under Redknapp's guidance after struggling, along with many others, under the stewardship of Juande Ramos.

The Croatian was at the heart of most of Spurs' best efforts, creating an opening for Lennon with an astute pass inside Gael Clichy and then forcing Almunia into action with an effort from 20 yards.

Spurs were almost the architects of their own downfall after 31 minutes when Vedran Corluka's clumsy attempts to shepherd the ball out of play saw him robbed by a combination of Samir Nasri and Clichy, but Arsenal wasted the opportunity.

Arsenal suffered a double blow as the interval approached, when first Adebayor was stretchered off with a hamstring injury and Eboue was sent off after 37 minutes.

Redknapp encouraged by Spurs display

Eboue had been booked by referee Dean earlier after a prolonged bout of dissent, and he saw red for kicking out at Modric following a clash that also saw the Spurs midfield man booked.

Spurs, with morale lifted by their numerical advantage, pressed after the break with Pavlyuchenko failing to hit the target with an angled effort and Keane glancing Lennon's cross on to the top of the net.

Redknapp clearly felt his side needed extra attacking impetus to break down what was becoming a rearguard action from Wenger's side, and he responded by sending on Darren Bent for Pavlyunchenko after 63 minutes.

But it was the Gunners who created the big opening six minutes later, only for Song to steer Van Persie's corner wide from eight yards.

Keane had only been given fleeting chances, but he almost fashioned an opening with a right-foot volley that flew just wide.

Bendtner then nearly provided a stunning finale with a volley that Cudicini did well to turn over - but there was still time for Modric to close in with only Almunia to beat, but the Arsenal keeper ensured the spoils were shared.

Tottenham: Cudicini, Corluka (Chimbonda 74), Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (Taarabt 87), Jenas, Palacios, Modric, Pavlyuchenko (Bent 64), Keane.
Subs Not Used: Gomes, Bale, Zokora, Huddlestone.

Booked: Modric.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy (Gibbs 87), Eboue, Song Billong, Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor (Bendtner 38), Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Eduardo, Ramsey, Djourou, Arshavin.

Sent Off: Eboue (37).

Booked: Eboue, Clichy.

Att: 36,021

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Tottenham's Wilson Palacios on 7.34 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Wenger incensed by referee Dean
08 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
08 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
08 Feb 09 |  Football
Player Rater
19 Dec 06 |  Live Text

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