LONDON • In the end, Arsenal did just enough to claim the 1-1 draw that leaves them level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, but the result actually cut much deeper.
There were times during a breathless north London derby on Sunday when they looked shocked as well as frustrated by Tottenham Hotspur's new-found resilience.
For three-quarters of the game, until they made the mistake of dropping deep as they looked to protect a 1-0 advantage, Tottenham were excellent.
HIGHS AND LOWS
Wins for Tottenham in the past 10 games where they have scored first at Arsenal (six draws, four defeats)
Premier League games in a row in which Mesut Oezil of Arsenal has recorded an assist, the first EPL player to do so
Oezil assists this season, four more than any other Premier League player
Tottenham league games without defeat, their longest run since December 2012 to March 2013
They deserved their lead, through Harry Kane's well-taken first-half goal, and, with a performance that carried all the hallmarks of a Mauricio Pochettino team - disciplined, compact, intelligent, industrious - they looked ready for a rare win at the home of their fiercest rivals.
It was in desperation, his attacking options depleted by injuries, that Arsene Wenger sent on Kieran Gibbs as a left winger in the 73rd minute. And, within four minutes the substitute scored the equaliser, attacking the ball at the far post to force it past Hugo Lloris from Mesut Oezil's excellent cross.
It could have been worse for Tottenham had Olivier Giroud converted any of three headed opportunities in the second half, but they more than merited a result that extended their unbeaten run to 11 Premier League matches since the opening day of the season.
Their frustration will be that they are still three points off the top four and five points off the summit, given how well they have played at times in recent weeks.
Wenger said Arsenal were angry and dizzy after the frenetic draw.
The anger came from Giroud, while the dizziness belonged to Santi Cazorla, who was not himself because of an illness that Wenger could not explain. The Spaniard came off at half-time.
Wenger, though, was happy enough with the point, which probably shines a light on where the balance of power had been.
Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, praised the character of his team's collective performance and said that they had "deserved to win". This, he added, was evidence of the steelier Tottenham that he is trying to construct.
Wenger, too, was pleased with the mental toughness on show from his players, in the wake of last Wednesday's 5-1 Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.
"Giroud is very angry," Wenger said. "He wanted too much to score, especially the opportunity he had in the six-yard box."
Cazorla struggled sorely, and the wonder was that Wenger had selected him in the first place.
"We suffered in the first half, as Cazorla was at only 30 per cent of his potential," Wenger said. "He was dizzy and he could not move.
"Tottenham is a good side and, when you play with one guy less and you have to make the game, it's difficult. We showed great mental resources and we refused to give up.
"Giroud had the chances but, if I try to be fair, I must say that the point is maybe a fair result."
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN