Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1
No magic wand, and he is not Santa Claus - but at least Jurgen Klinsmann has
sprinkled a bit of bite and fight over Tottenham even if they are now in the
bottom two after today's derby draw with Arsenal.
Klinsmann's return has been hailed as all Spurs fans' Christmas and new year
wishes rolled into one, and the German showed he has lost none of his sheer
But the German captain knows he has rejoined a very different Tottenham team
from the one he left two-and-a-half years ago.
There's no Teddy Sheringham, no Nick Barmby, no Gica Popescu, and once again,
today at least, no Darren Anderton or Les Ferdinand either - in short, it's a
side which will have to battle and scrap for every single point.
They did that, though, in a north London derby that never hit the heights, and
it looked as if, even if the fairytale would not come to pass, they would get
the next best thing when Allan Nielsen crashed home from a Klinsmann flick just
before the half-hour.
Yet self-inflicted wounds have hounded Tottenham before and since Christian
Gross' arrival, and so it came to pass again as Ramon Vega's half-hearted block
sent Ray Parlour's strike beyond a stranded Ian Walker.
Not even the inspiration of Klinsmann's return could spark Spurs into a second
goal, and indeed Arsenal could justly feel the more disappointed to have
finished with just one point.
But with Dennis Bergkamp again peripheral, north London's championship
challenge now looks almost dead. Only the relegation dogfight will concern this
corner of the capital for the next five months.
The expectations on Klinsmann were immense, despite the German's intimations
of his own mortality yesterday, and his presence did inspire Tottenham to a
Klinsmann himself, not surprisingly, was involved in much of what was good,
spinning expertly off Steve Bould before crossing deep for Steve Clemence to
float a header across goal.
But, while Spurs had effort, they had only one real front man, Ferdinand's
continued absence seeing David Ginola forming a Franco-German alliance.
Arsenal were without their main hitman as well, Ian Wright beginning his
latest ban, although Parlour might have put the Gunners ahead when he burst from
half-way in the seventh minute before firing a yard wide.
That, though, was the sum total of Arsenal's attacking intent for the first
half-hour, as Spurs called what few shots there were, even if they always seemed
to be defending on the margins.
A spectacular overhead scissors kick by Ginola went straight at David Seaman,
who also gathered easily from Nielsen, while Ginola's floated free-kick dropped
the wrong side of the bar.
Arsenal were not helped when Lee Dixon was forced to make way - victim of an
early ankle injury - for Gilles Grimandi, and the Frenchman had barely settled
in when Spurs went in front.
Ginola spread wide right and Ruel Fox - otherwise a huge let-down - poked past
Nigel Winterburn and flashed in to the near post.
Klinsmann, battling with Martin Keown, appeared to get the slightest of
touches, and when the ball dropped on the half-volley eight yards out Nielsen
The response was almost instant. Sol Campbell, ever a tower of defensive
strength, did just enough to block Marc Overmars, but then Bergkamp's clever
heel-flick found Emmanuel Petit.
For once, even Campbell was found wanting as Petit played in Nicolas Anelka,
and the young French striker's first-timer beat Ian Walker all ends up, only to
bounce back off the foot of the goalkeeper's right-hand post.
That made it two bits of quality after a dearth of such moments, and with
passions now raised on and off the pitch - even Klinsmann was involved in a
verbal skirmish with Keown - Arsenal began to force the pace.
But they could not force the equaliser, Anelka shooting weakly before Campbell
got the slightest of touches to deflect an Overmars right-footer wide of the
Tottenham's problems all season have been after the interval, but today they
did start the second half brightly.
Klinsmann, whose effort never dimmed, nearly put Ginola in; Steve Clemence
forced a less than sure gather from Seaman, and Ginola broke from deep to fire
over the top.
Yet all the time it looked as if the Spurs back-line was more sieve than
bucket, and within a minute of Jose Domingues replacing Fox, Arsenal were on
Vega had originally cleared Petit's corner, but Spurs did not close down as
Winterburn fed Parlour.
When the midfielder let fly from 25 yards, Vega's attempt to block succeeded
only in sending Walker the wrong way as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
It was wretched luck for the Swiss defender, although Spurs had been living on
their nerves for some time. Yet after their recent problems Gross would probably
have settled for one point.
Arsenal needed more, of course, Anelka volleying close after Vega had again
not got enough distance on his clearance, but once Bergkamp - still without a
Premiership goal since October 4 - went off 10 minutes from time, both sides
seemed happy to settle with what they had.
Klinsmann almost put Domingues away five minutes from time, Colin Calderwood
thumping a couple of feet over, but a draw was no more than they deserved.
It was not exactly the script the Spurs fans had written in their minds before
the start, but it was still better than it might have been.
Klinsmann will know this is just the start of a long road to salvation. Effort
is one thing, but effort alone might not be enough.
Tottenham: Walker, Calderwood, Fox (Domingues 60), Neilsen, Carr,
Ginola (Iversen 66), Vega, Wilson, Campbell, Clemence, Klinsmann.
Subs Not Used: Baardsen, Mabbutt, Scales.
Booked: Campbell, Wilson.
Goals: Neilsen 28.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon (Grimandi 27), Winterburn, Vieira, Bould,
Anelka (Rankin 86), Bergkamp (Hughes 79), Overmars, Keown,
Subs Not Used: Manninger, Upson.
Booked: Bould, Keown.
Goals: Parlour 62.
Ref: M A Riley (Leeds).