The Gunners, still sore from the dramatic 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, were given a major boost on Tuesday night as Manchester United were held to a goalless draw at Newcastle United, and they made a dream start as they looked to gain ground on the leaders.
Cesc Fabregas’ measured pass played in Theo Walcott and the England winger made no mistake by netting on five minutes, but Spurs responded almost immediately as van der Vaart got on the end of Vedran Corluka’s pass to equalise.
Samir Nasri restored the Gunners’ lead just five minutes later with the aid of a deflection, and Robin van Persie extended their advantage on 40 minutes by firing home after his initial effort had been blocked by Heurelho Gomes.
However, Spurs came back again and Tom Huddlestone lashed home from the edge of the penalty to reduced the arrears a minute before half-time.
And van der Vaart then secured a point for the hosts when he coolly slotted home a penalty after Wojciech Szczesny tripped Aaron Lennon.