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Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Wednesday, 20 April 2011 22:23 UK

Tottenham   3 - 3   Arsenal

Rafael van der Vaart (right) celebrates his first goal
Van der Vaart scored twice to earn Spurs a deserved point

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at White Hart Lane

Arsenal's Premier League title hopes were dealt another devastating blow as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw a north London derby classic with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger needed victory desperately to apply pressure on Manchester United after the leaders drew at Newcastle United on Tuesday - but this share of the spoils leaves Arsenal third in the table and six points adrift with only five games left.

In a contest that was enthralling from first whistle to last, Theo Walcott put the visitors in front early on only for Rafael van der Vaart to peg them back as Spurs drew level quickly.

Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie looked to have given the Gunners command as the interval approached, but Tom Huddlestone's goal for the home side right on half-time was pivotal, giving Harry Redknapp's side renewed hope.

Redknapp pleased to match Arsenal

And it was justified as Van der Vaart scored from the spot with 20 minutes left after Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny fouled substitute Aaron Lennon, giving Spurs a point they deserved and moving them to within two points of fourth-placed Manchester City as the hunt for a place in next season's Champions League intensifies.

Wenger, animated throughout, looked resigned at the end of a magnificent game that was a credit to both sides - something that will be little consolation to the Gunners' boss as he now stares at the prospect of another season without a trophy.

The north London duo provided a feast of flowing attacking football, a candidate for the Premier League's best game of the season, that allowed Szczesny and his Spurs counterpart Heurelho Gomes to excel by producing a series of outstanding saves.

And there was little doubt Redknapp was the more satisfied manager when referee Martin Atkinson blew the whistle on a breathless evening in which Arsenal stretched their unbeaten league run to 16 games but probably lost their battle to win the title.

Wenger surprisingly left out Jack Wilshere to accommodate Alex Song in central midfield - and the teenager was as gripped as everyone inside White Hart Lane by a sensational first half.

Arsenal struck the first blow after five minutes when Walcott's pace took him on to Cesc Fabregas's pass and away from the Spurs defence to roll a cool finish beyond Gomes into the corner.

The celebrations lasted less than two minutes as Redknapp's side struck back swiftly, Van der Vaart scoring at Szczensy's near post from Vedran Corluka's pass into the area.

Wenger promises title fight

In a scintillating opening spell, the Gunners were back in front with only 12 minutes gone. Abou Diaby found Nasri 20 yards out and his shot took a faint touch off Michael Dawson to beat the unsighted Gomes.

Walcott's speed was posing a problem Spurs were struggling to solve and he was inches away from increasing the visitors' lead after 28 minutes when he was released by Van Persie - and Spurs were almost on the mark themselves when the industrious Luka Modric saw his shot blocked by Szczesny.

Wenger's men looked to have put daylight between themselves and their opponents five minutes before the interval. Van Persie was the scorer from close range after Gomes had done brilliantly to claw out his header.

It was a lead that was reduced only five minutes later as the half came to a stunning conclusion, Huddlestone thumping a finish past the motionless Szczesny after Fabregas could only partially clear.

The hosts also had presentable claims for a penalty rejected by referee Atkinson when Modric tangled with Johan Djourou as he raced into the box.

Redknapp was forced into a double change at the start of the second half, with Gareth Bale and Corluka being replaced by Younes Kaboul and Lennon. Bale had been struggling badly after two hefty collisions with keeper Szczesny - although on both occasions the Arsenal keeper's challenges were perfectly acceptable.

The Gunners had not been found wanting in the physical exchanges and both Song and Djourou were booked early in the second half for fouls on Modric as Spurs pressed forward in an attempt to force an equaliser.

Wenger then introduced Wilshere for Diaby, who had picked up a knock, and cut a tortured figure in the technical area as Walcott once again sliced the home side open, only to see his delivery fly across the face of goal without any team-mate able to apply the decisive touch.

Redknapp's men had exerted more control and levelled again with 20 minutes left, Van der Vaart scoring from the spot after Szczesny had fouled Lennon.

Arsenal's talented young keeper then made amends with a crucial point-blank block from Modric when it seemed certain the Croat would give Spurs the lead for the first time in this rollercoaster encounter.

Gomes was hardly idle at the other end, twice saving well from Fabregas as the visitors knew a draw would not be sufficient as they chase down Manchester United.

Szczesny was next to excel with a save of agility and excellence to turn Peter Crouch's goalbound header over the bar. He followed this up with further saves from Van der Vaart and Spurs substitute Sandro.

Honours ended even - but for Wenger and his players this may well prove to be the final setback in a frustrating and fruitless hunt for the title.

Live text and stats

 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal FT
(HT 2-3)
  • Van der Vaart 7
  • Huddlestone 44
  • Van der Vaart (pen) 70
  • Walcott 5
  • Nasri 12
  • Van Persie 40

Tottenham

Substitutes

Arsenal

Substitutes

Ref: AtkinsonAtt: 36,138
TOTTENHAM
ARSENAL

Possession

  • Tottenham 50%
  • Arsenal 50%

Attempts on target

  • Tottenham 9
  • Arsenal 9

Attempts off target

  • Tottenham 7
  • Arsenal 4

Corners

  • Tottenham 7
  • Arsenal 6

Fouls

  • Tottenham 8
  • Arsenal 13
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+3:35 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
  • 90:00+3:07 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot from a long way out which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
  • 90:00+1:02 Luka Modric crosses the ball, clearance by Bacary Sagna.
  • 90:00+0:08 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto by Jack Wilshere. Heurelho Gomes takes the indirect free kick.
  • 87:47 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot. Michael Dawson gets a block in.
  • 86:26 Aaron Lennon gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gael Clichy. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.
  • 83:04 Raniere Sandro takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.
  • 82:27 Foul by Robin van Persie on Michael Dawson, free kick awarded. Michael Dawson restarts play with the free kick.
  • 80:56 The official flags Robin van Persie offside. Michael Dawson takes the indirect free kick.
  • 80:56 Substitution Andrey Arshavin is brought on as a substitute for Theo Walcott.
  • 80:56 Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Nicklas Bendtner coming on for Samir Nasri.
  • Correction - 78:10 Foul by Rafael Van der Vaart on Gael Clichy, free kick awarded. The ball is crossed by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Peter Crouch takes a shot. Save made by Wojciech Szczesny. Rafael Van der Vaart takes the inswinging corner, save by Wojciech Szczesny. Jack Wilshere takes the indirect free kick. Corner from left by-line taken by Luka Modric. Rafael Van der Vaart takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a comfortable save.
  • 78:10 Rafael Van der Vaart concedes a free kick for a foul on Gael Clichy. The ball is delivered by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Peter Crouch takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny. Corner taken by Rafael Van der Vaart from the left by-line to the near post, save by Wojciech Szczesny. Wojciech Szczesny takes the indirect free kick. Corner taken by Luka Modric from the left by-line. Rafael Van der Vaart takes a shot. Comfortable save by Wojciech Szczesny.
  • 77:08 Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.
  • 77:08 Substitution Raniere Sandro is brought on as a substitute for Roman Pavlyuchenko.
  • 77:08 The ball is sent over by Aaron Lennon, Unfair challenge on Samir Nasri by Peter Crouch results in a free kick.
  • 76:22 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aaron Lennon by Jack Wilshere. Michael Dawson takes the free kick.
  • 75:23 Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, save made by Heurelho Gomes.
  • 75:13 Alex Song produces a cross, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.
  • 74:40 Corner taken by Samir Nasri from the left by-line, save by Heurelho Gomes.
  • Correction - 74:29 Francesc Fabregas takes a shot. Heurelho Gomes makes a save.
  • 74:29 Robin van Persie takes a shot. Heurelho Gomes makes a save.
  • 74:20 Gael Clichy sends in a cross, William Gallas manages to make a clearance.
  • 73:22 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Peter Crouch by Johan Djourou. Benoit Assou-Eko



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Barclays Premier League results

20 Apr 2011 23:59 UK


Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 20 Apr 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 33 38 70
2 Chelsea 33 34 64
3 Arsenal 33 32 64
4 Man City 32 20 56
5 Tottenham 32 8 54
6 Liverpool 33 7 49
7 Everton 33 6 47
8 Bolton 32 3 43
9 Newcastle 33 1 40
10 Aston Villa 33 -12 40
11 West Brom 33 -15 39
12 Fulham 32 1 38
13 Stoke 32 -3 38
14 Sunderland 33 -12 38
15 Birmingham 33 -12 38
16 Blackburn 33 -14 35
17 Wigan 33 -21 34
18 Blackpool 33 -22 33
19 West Ham 33 -19 32
20 Wolves 32 -20 32

see also
Wednesday football as it happened
20 Apr 11 |  Football
We will fight for title - Wenger
21 Apr 11 |  Arsenal



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