Fabregas Flare Almost Wins It For Arsenal
A week of intrigue behind the scenes at Arsenal ended with a 2-2 draw against rivals Tottenham courtesy of Jermaine Jenas’ injury-time strike at White Hart Lane.
Former Arsenal players such as Ian Wright had suggested the departure of David Dein as vice-chairman could affect players, yet Arsene Wenger’s men showed their character to come from behind to lead, only for Jenas to grab a point.
After Robbie Keane opened the scoring, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor had finished off set-pieces in the second half – both delivered by Cesc Fabregas – to establish a lead before they were denied maximum points.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action before Keane broke the deadlock, although Dimitar Berbatov had a sight of goal with less than a minute gone.
Didier Zokora played the ball forward and William Gallas made a hash of his clearance, with Berbatov scooping an awkward ball over Jens Lehmann but failing to direct it on target.
Zokora was driving Spurs forward from midfield in the early stages and had a speculative effort from long range that did not offer encouragement of him scoring his first goal for the club.
Spurs were furious earlier in the season when Adebayor looked offside scoring against them at the Emirates Stadium. He finished well in the 11th minute but the flag went up against the Togo striker this time.
The game woke up on the half-hour mark with a triple booking – for Berbatov, Abou Diaby and Lehmann – as players jostled for position for a corner.
When Jenas’ set-piece was eventually swung in, Michael Dawson met it firmly and Keane helped it over the line with a header from close range for his 19th of the season.
Keane had been struggling with a knee inflammation this week but the risk was justified and the Republic of Ireland striker extended his recent record to five in five appearances.
His header increased the intensity, and Zokora was booked for a foul on Tomas Rosicky.
Emmanuel Eboue struck the post in first-half stoppage time after exchanging passes with Fabregas on the right flank, with Adebayor firing the rebound over the crossbar.
Fabregas was only introduced as a first-half substitute after struggling with a virus this week and starting on the bench, the Spain midfielder replacing Freddie Ljungberg.
It was Fabregas who took the corner in the 52nd minute when Arsenal struck the upright again. This time it was Toure who glanced a header towards the far post.
They hit the woodwork just before the hour mark when Adebayor looped a header over Paul Robinson from Gael Clichy’s cross on the left flank. Spurs responded by taking Teemu Tainio off for Steed Malbranque, which gave them a more attacking look for the final third of the game.
But the visitors were not to be denied their equaliser and levelled in the 64th minute when Fabregas floated a free-kick to the far post and Toure finished past Robinson.
Julio Baptista, on as a substitute, then had a shot blocked on the edge of the area as Arsenal chased a second.
Aaron Lennon was taken off for the final 19 minutes and Tom Huddlestone was brought on. The substitution came just after Fabregas had played Eboue behind the Spurs defence on the right flank but the full-back could not find a team-mate with his cross.
Adebayor headed in with 13 minutes remaining, getting on the end of another Fabregas free-kick at the far post. With seconds remaining Jenas picked the ball up 30 yards out and drilled into the bottom corner with a fierce drive.
Match report thanks to ESPN Soccernet.