Arsenal defeated a pretty lacklustre Tottenham Hotspur side in a surprisingly tame affair at the Emirates Stadium.
After a relatively bright start from both sides, Santiago Cazorla testing Hugo Lloris twice from counter-attacks with long-range efforts, the latter a low free-kick which cut just wide of the post, the game seemed to fizzle out. Spurs were enjoying more of the possession, but as an attack characteristically broke down thanks to the intervention of Per Mertesacker, Arsenal struck on the counter-attack. Theo Walcott was given the freedom of the right flank thanks to some ropey positioning from Danny Rose, and Olivier Giroud managed to elude Michael Dawson to sidefoot his centre in from close range.
The goal gave the home side a lift, with Walcott again going close after good work from Aaron Ramsey, and the Welshman missing a much better chance later as he blazed over from a loose ball in the Tottenham area.
Tottenham improved slightly after the break and began to put Arsenal under some pressure, but were once again lacking for creativity in the final third, not aided by the rather static and disappointing Roberto Soldado.
Spurs then suffered a setback as, just as Erik Lamela was being introduced for Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue endured a bad injury to his ankle that appeared to be quite a nasty one, Sandro his replacement.
Tottenham came the closest yet to scoring after with a goalmouth scramble after Defoe's effort from outside the area found its way through a crowd of red shirts via a deflection off Laurent Koscielny, but not far enough away from Wojciech Szczesny. Soldado had an effort from the rebound, which struck Giroud, one of several thousand Arsenal players who had massed at the near post, then screaming in vain for handball, before Kyle Walker dragged a third effort wide from the edge of the area.
Nacho Monreal was then introduced by the hosts, and the Spaniard almost scored with his first touch. Theo Walcott broke free on the counter with a fine opportunity to make it two, but Lloris was alert to deny him before Monreal miscued the rebound with the goal gaping.
Erik Lamela was given a chance to score shortly afterwards after collecting Sandro's fine scooped pass, but attempted to cut inside before scuffing his shot straight at Szczesny.
Spurs' inability to force chances was proving to be their downfall once again, as they simply couldn't seem to create any genuine pressure on the Arsenal goal despite their dominance in the centre of the pitch. A few late crosses were fairly easily dealt with by the Arsenal defence, before a pair of set-pieces failed to materialise to anything either. Tottenham have a fit and bedded-in Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Lewis Holtby to come in to the team, but as it stands they look desperately short of firepower.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Rosicky (Monreal - 79'), Wilshere (Flamini - 43'), Walcott (Sagna - 90' ), Ramsey, Cazorla, Giroud.
Tottenham: Lloris, Rose, Vertonghen, Dawson, Rose, Paulinho, Capoue (Sandro - 75'), Townsend (Lamela - 75'), Dembele (Defoe - 69'), Chadli, Soldado.