By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal’s hopes of leapfrogging Premier League leaders Manchester City were frustrated when they drew 1-1 with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after City’s surprising 0-0 draw with bottom club Aston Villa.
Tottenham, who moved up to fifth, had looked on course for a rare away win against their neighbours when they led through Harry Kane’s first-half goal but substitute Kieran Gibbs equalised for the Gunners with 13 minutes left.
Juergen Klopp tasted defeat for the first time since taking over as Liverpool manager, his side beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Manchester City, who hit the bar late on against a resolute Villa side under the command of new boss Remi Garde for the first time, have 26 points from 12 matches, the same as Arsenal, but have a better goal difference.
Tottenham, unbeaten in the league since an opening day defeat by Manchester United, have 21.
Liverpool have 17 points in 10th with Crystal Palace two points better off in eighth.
The Premier League now takes a two-week breather for a raft of international matches.
Injury-hit Arsenal, without the likes of Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, had a gilt-edged chance to go into that break top, especially after City’s stalemate at Villa Park in the day’s early kickoff, but in the end were relieved to avoid only a second home league defeat by Tottenham in the last 23 meetings.
“It was a very intense game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “In the second half we had a great mental response and we were determined not to lose.
“Whe you’re 1-0 down it’s a mixture of relief and regret because if we were really clinical in the last 15 minutes we could have won, but 1-1 was probably a fair result.
“City dropped points, we dropped points, Liverpool lost to Palace, it just shows what a hard league this is.”
Arsenal started brightly but Tottenham responded and took a deserved lead after 32 minutes when Kane raced on to Danny Rose’s long pass and beat Petr Cech with a cool finish.
The Gunners improved after the break, having taken off a “dizzy” Santi Cazorla, and Olivier Giroud headed a chance against the top of the crossbar and an even better one wide.
Tottenham, though, remained dangerous, threatening a second goal with Christian Eriksen, Kane and Toby Alderweireld all denied by the impressive Cech.
Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris made a great save from Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell but would have been disappointed not to keep out Arsenal’s equaliser when Gibbs crept in at the back post to meet Mesut Ozil’s delivery and bounced the ball past the Frenchman who seemed to have it covered.
“We should have won but I feel very proud of the players. We played very well. You need to kill the game. When we were 1-0 up we had chances to score again,” Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said.
Villa manager Garde was also proud of his new charges after his side hung on grimly for a morale-boosting point after a seven-match losing sequence in the league.
They had to ride their luck in the second half when Brad Guzan kept out a close-range Raheem Sterling effort with his head, Kevin De Bruyne missed an open goal and Fernando shook the crossbar with a bullet header.
“You have to be lucky but to be lucky you have to work hard,” former Arsenal midfielder Garde told reporters.
“Luck is not coming knocking on your door, you create that, the situation and the behaviour that you need to get lucky.”
Klopp will have plenty to ponder during the international break after Scott Dann’s late goal condemned his Liverpool side to defeat after Philippe Coutinho had equalised following Yannick Bolasie’s Palace opener.
“It’s important to learn. Today was not enough — we can do better,” the German said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis and Ian Chadband)