Tottenham gave Manchester United a dose of their own medicine as Clint Dempsey slotted in a 93rd minute equaliser after Robin van Persie's opener in the first-half.
Dempsey savours his equaliser
United's lead has now been trimmed to five points from seven and Spurs, in fourth, are four points ahead of Everton. Here's five things learned from the Premier League encounter.
IN AT THE DEEP END
United defended relatively comfortably as Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić imperiously repelled Tottenham. Aided by a resilient Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, they had more to contend with however after Sir Alex Ferguson opted to take Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa off.
Kagawa had been linking the play well with Danny Welbeck and Van Persie, but his withdrawal for Wayne Rooney shifted Cleverley to the right before he made way for the timid Antonio Valencia. Van Persie was now isolated and Mousa Dembélé, often marauding into his opponents' third of the pitch already, was afforded even more room as Spurs pegged United further back. Their aerial threat, hitherto impotent, came ballooning in one final time and David de Gea cracked, punching feebly for Aaron Lennon who assisted Dempsey's equaliser.
Purportedly attacking substitutions, Ferguson had actually intensified United's catenaccio attitude, only Tottenham kicked in the 'door-bolt'. Amidst these circumstances, Spurs looked fretful when United seldom ventured into their own third.
WORLD-CLASS STATUS ELUDES BALE
Ever ebullient, Gareth Bale was however well-marshalled by Rafael da Silva, a fullback he has come unstuck against twice before. That prompted him to move central, where he attempted the odd reckless shot with a one-word message which read, 'furstrated'.
One of European football's best wingers, Bale however is yet to impose himself consistently against the big boys. A standout performance at Arsenal two seasons ago aside, he is often on the fringes against either them, United, Chelsea or Manchester City, despite having scored against all of them.
On the fringes
Lennon may frustrate more often than Bale, but his perseverance against the back-peddling Patrice Evra eventually paid off thanks to self-discipline. He may not want to be getting chalk on his boots, but it is a mistake of Bale to veer away from the wing.
HODGSON MUST RECONSIDER FERDINAND
Sprightly, solid and superb, Rio Ferdinand has been an ever-present for United this season and on Sunday offered a vintage retort to those who suggested his powers were waning. Complemented by Nemanja Vidić, had Spurs not earned a point this would have been remembered as one their partnership's best displays, but the reminder to Roy Hodgson was firm enough.
Hodgson has been found guilty of hypocrisy regarding the defender's injury record and age and Ferdinand remains superior than any other English centre-back. His determination to thwart Jermain Defoe's goal-bound shot underlined phenomenal powers of recovery for a 34-year-old, whose performances and experience would be greater assets than other members of England's 'golden generation' in Brazil next year.
PARKER A POOR SUBSTITUTE
With Sandro out for the rest of the season, Scott Parker made his first Premier League start since May last year. As Samuel L Jackson says in Pulp Fiction, "Accept no substitute," and Parker was unacceptable.
Purportedly the man who epitomises the stiff upper lipped English footballer, Parker was an embarrassment. Having conned Chris Foy with one dive in the first-half to penalise Danny Welbeck, he was guilty of simulation in the second 45, clutching the ball to demand a free-kick. He didn't get his way and it was mystifying why Foy didn't book him for his unforced tumble or the handball. His work with the ball was also as laboured as it was wayward.
Maybe it is harsh to write off Parker's effect after one league start, but his woeful performances at last year's European Championship suggested he was out of his depth at the highest level, which is where Spurs aspire to be. Arsenal are mulling over whether to trigger Mohamed Diamé's £3.5m release clause, and Spurs may also be considering whether to activate plan B in light of Parker's struggles in the snow. And on that note...
TOTTENHAM MUST MAKE JANUARY BUYS
Such is the Premier League's regression Tottenham may get away with it this year, but do Spurs want to take their chances of finishing behind Arsenal for an 18th consecutive season?
André Villas-Boas' substitutions when chasing the game may make Ferguson even more frustrated at the manner of the game's outcome. Emmanuel Adebayor was out in Africa, so Benoit Assou-Ekotto, a full-back, and Tom Huddlestone, an immobile midfielder, were introduced in a bid to alter the outcome at 1-0. No wonder Villas-Boas celebrated Dempsey's leveller as if it was a winner.
Tottenham's first-choice XI is superior than Harry Redknapp's last year even without Luka Modrić, but Sandro's injury has scuppered that luxury. Defoe and Bale, the two outstanding goalscorers, have not succumbed to injury yet but Spurs fans - perennially pessimistic - must fear another springtime collapse after last year's disintegration. With 11 days to go, Villas-Boas best hurry.
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