Gunners feel their November curse
November arrives and Wenger's men freeze again
(Kevin Wimmer 42-og)
(Harry Kane 51-pen)
Arsene Wenger was caught on camera pulling up his zip.
The brisk cold weather was sneaking through his tailored suit as his Gunners shivered at the Emirates.
He doesn't like the winter any more than his players.
When the temperature drops, so does Arsenal's momentum. The 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last night felt like a Game of Thrones trailer.
Winter is coming. The gloves will come out on the pitch. One or two Gunners will go into hiding. From the sublime to the shivering, the old Arsenal returned like a damp squib.
Mesut Oezil, Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott, all so devastating in recent weeks, went into hibernation at the Emirates. Arsenal's record in November under Wenger is dreadful. There was worrying evidence to suggest normal service was resuming.
Without taking anything away from Spurs' endeavour and their excellent unbeaten record, this particular derby was there for the taking for the hosts.
By the end, Arsenal were struggling to hang on for a point.
Tottenham arrived with a new formation, an unfamiliar back three, a rusty striker and an inability to win games or even score in open play.
Indeed, Spurs' defeat against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League last week was so poor, Mauricio Pochettino returned to the drawing board and hoped for the best.
He was already taking a risk in recalling Harry Kane, considering the striker lacked match fitness.
But the Tottenham manager also opted for a radical approach in defence. Or was it?
The back three is an increasingly common get-out clause for troubled teams. So Pochettino went with three centre-backs and promoted Kevin Wimmer for his first English Premier League start of the season.
Oh, how it would come back to haunt the Austrian.
For a while, Tottenham's tweaking worked. Oezil and Sanchez often looked like Snow White, lost in the woods with seven hardworking men around them.
CHILLY: Arsenal stars like Mesut Oezil (above right) fail to warm Arsene Wenger's heart. PHOTO: AFP
But the visitors' early dominance also underlined their stubborn weakness. They couldn't score. Three goals in their previous six games (only one from open play) was a telling statistic.
Spurs' football was too much fumbling foreplay with no climax, like jittery teenagers still struggling with the growing pains of puberty.
And then, after half and hour, the Gunners rose from their slumber.
An angled drive from Walcott struck the top of the post so hard the vibrating woodwork must have registered on the Richter scale.
The wobbling proved contagious.
On 42 minutes, Oezil's in-swinging free-kick got the fine headed goal it deserved. It's just a shame the goal came from the disoriented head of Wimmer.
At least a couple of Gunners were arguably in an offside position. The goal should've been chalked off and Wimmer's blushes spared.
But Arsenal had earned their half-time advantage.
So why Laurent Koscielny felt the need to line the penalty box with sticks of dynamite before hitting the detonator was a mystery.
Even when Mousa Dembele muscled his way towards the box in the 49th minute, the midfielder was meandering in a bull-in-search-of-a-china-shop kind of way.
But Koscielny stuck out a leg with all the subtlety of an Irish jigger to give away a butter-soft penalty. The foul was avoidable, the damage entirely self-inflicted.
Kane clipped his spot-kick straight down the middle. The Englishman loves derby day. He scored home and away against the Gunners last season.
On the bench, Wenger appeared to be rubbing fresh lines into his forehead.
By the 70th minute, he had sent on all three substitutes.
Tottenham almost pinched a winner with seven minutes left, when Christian Eriksen's floated free-kick evaded everyone and struck a post.
As the ball rebounded to safety, the booing began.
North London Derbies are always taut affairs, but there was a nagging suspicion that Arsenal had once again floundered under pressure.
Their artists went AWOL. Their midfielders were often overwhelmed, bullied by Dembele and Victor Wanyama.
Tottenham still can't score from open play, but the Gunners can't put away opponents in harsh conditions.
As the big chill hit the Emirates, there was little to warm the hearts of the Arsenal faithful.
BY THE NUMBERS
The number of goals scored in the North London Derbies, making Arsenal v Spurs the highest scoring fixture in Premier League history.
Harry Kane is now Tottenham's joint-top scorer in Premier League games against Arsenal with five goals (level with Gareth Bale).
Tottenham have stayed unbeaten in their opening 11 top-flight games for the first time since 1960-61 - which is when they last won the league title.
Delighted Pochettino, downcast Wenger
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino (above, with Harry Kane).
Mauricio Pochettino was delighted after his Tottenham side earned a 1-1 draw at Arsenal to stretch their unbeaten start to the Premier League season to 11 games.
Spurs were up against it at half-time in the North London Derby following Kevin Wimmer's own-goal but Harry Kane - making his first appearance since mid-September after an ankle injury - secured the visitors a point from the penalty spot.
"I'm very happy with the performance," Pochettino told BT Sport 1.
"I think we played well at a very difficult place. Arsenal are on a very good run and have momentum.
"Our players deserve full credit today - they were fantastic.
"We showed big, big character to get back into the game."
The result means Arsenal remain three points ahead of their rivals heading into the international break, but manager Arsene Wenger was disappointed with a below-par performance.
"We had some good spells in the game and I don't question the spirit of our team," he said.
"But we usually have more fluency and it looked like we just tried to play too much."
On the decision to award Tottenham a spot-kick for Laurent Koscielny's challenge on Mousa Dembele, Wenger added: "For me it was a soft penalty, a very soft one.
"It didn't look a deliberate foul or that he was dangerous to score. Even speaking to some referees, you can give it or not give it. As Arsenal manager, I wouldn't have given it!"
Wenger also claimed Tottenham's Victor Wanyama had been "very lucky" to avoid a red card.
The Kenyan midfielder proved his usual bustling presence at the base of Spurs' midfield and despite a flare-up with Theo Walcott late in the first half, he avoided a booking.
"He was very lucky to stay on the pitch, of course," Wenger said.
"A few fouls, the elbow on Walcott for example. We have to cope with that. The referee makes the decisions."
Meanwhile, Kane hopes he convinced England boss Gareth Southgate he is fit to face Scotland in next week's World Cup qualifier.
"I'm ready if called upon by England," said Kane. "I'm feeling good and the ankle feels fine."
- Wire Services.
Our players deserve full credit today — they were fantastic. We showed big, big character to get back into the game. It’s been a very difficult game for us, but 11 games unbeaten in the Premier League, we need to be very pleased.
— Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino (with Harry Kane)