Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry made the tongue-in-cheek comparison after Defoe played his part in a defensive rearguard that earned a 0-0 draw and the point required to guarantee safety.
The striker is 11th on the list of all-time Premier League scorers with 127 goals, but he spent much of the evening at the Emirates tracking the forward forays of Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin.
That prompted John O’Shea to call him “our new left-back” on Sky Sports after the game, and Henry chimed in with his reference to the great Brazil full-back.
Defoe – a January signing from Toronto FC – said: “It’s a case of grafting for the team – at times you’ve got to do things you’ve never done before.
“It’s all about getting the results, and when that final whistle went you can imagine the feeling. Everyone has worked so hard.
“We knew when we came here it was going to be difficult. They keep the ball well, good movement, discipline, so it’s fantastic.
“It (the relegation battle) has been scary to be honest. You try to be relaxed and approach it like every other game but you’re just crying out for the final whistle.
“I thought everyone was fantastic tonight. We needed the result and we got it under a lot of pressure so credit to the boys.”