Tottenham missed the chance to establish a two-point advantage at the top of the Premier League – for three hours at least – after a feisty 0-0 draw at Bournemouth.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men won the corresponding fixture 5-1 last season but there was never any prospect of a repeat and the visitors were hanging on for a point at the end.
Spurs can also count themselves extremely fortunate to finish with 11 men on the field with both Erik Lamela and, in particular, substitute Moussa Sissoko lucky to escape red cards.
Lamela was given the benefit of the doubt in the first half when, having already been booked, he slid carelessly into Dan Gosling, while Sissoko could face further action from the Football Association for an inexplicable elbow into the face of Harry Arter as the pair jostled for a ball at a throw-in.
With Harry Kane still unavailable due to injury, Pochettino opted to give Son Heung-min the nod up front ahead of Vincent Janssen, but the South Korea international was hooked in favour of the Dutchman on the hour mark after an anonymous performance.
Most of Spurs’ danger came from midfield, with Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lamela all testing home goalkeeper Artur Boruc – the Argentine even hitting the upright – but there was no way through for the visitors.
The best the energetic hosts could muster was when Charlie Daniels hit the crossbar early on, but they will be happy with a draw and a clean sheet against a title contender, as well as the on-loan Jack Wilshere playing his first 90 minutes in the Premier League since 2014 following his injury woes.
Bournemouth came close to grabbing an early lead when Daniels called goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into action after a short corner in the fifth minute – the France international only just managing to divert the left-back’s attempt from close range onto the woodwork after some good work from Gosling to create the chance.
Tottenham were next to hit the frame of the goal when Lamela tried his luck from 20 yards after a sublime piece of skill from Alli. The winger’s curled attempt towards the top corner beat Boruc but struck the outside of the far post.
The away side struggled to create any further chances of note in the opening 25 minutes, but they threatened from long range a second time when Eriksen forced Boruc into a sublime save after his shot took a wicked deflection off Arter.
Lamela was fortunate to escape a second yellow card after bringing down Gosling in midfield late in the first half, having previously been booked for a foul on Adam Smith, referee Craig Pawson opting to spare the former Roma star.
Spurs sprung to life early in the second half and had half-chances via Alli and Lamela, the former testing Boruc from long range, before the latter blasted a shot over the crossbar from a narrow angle.
Danny Rose had the chance to win it for Tottenham with 15 minutes left on the clock after a low cross from Sissoko, but his right-footed shot lacked the power to really worry Boruc.
Sissoko had replaced Alli after 72 minutes but should have had a short afternoon, the referee and his assistants somehow failing to spot his flailing arm into the face of Arter.
The incident fired up Bournemouth and they had one final chance to win it through Benik Afobe but the striker’s header after a good cross from Simon Francis went inches over the bar as it remained scoreless.
Key Opta stats:
– Tottenham have gone unbeaten in their opening nine top-flight games of a season for the fourth time in their history (also 1959-60, 1960-61 and 1990-91).
– Bournemouth have kept as many clean sheets in their last four home Premier League games (3), as they did in their previous 17 matches combined.
– Spurs are the only side yet to concede from open play in the Premier League this season.
– Wilshere completed 90 minutes in a Premier League match for the first time since 13th September 2014; 771 days ago.
– Eriksen has had 28 attempts on goal this season in the league, but is yet to find the net (inc. blocks).