Tottenham beat 10-man Arsenal to reignite their Champions League qualification
hopes with an emphatic 3-0 victory in a breathless 191st north London derby.
Arsenal could have confirmed a place in the Premier League’s top four with a win at
clear of Spurs with two games left.
In a feverish atmosphere, Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead from the spot in the 22nd
minute after Son Heung-min was fouled by Cedric Soares, then added a second before
the break with a stooping far-post header after Rodrigo Bentancur flicked on a corner.
In between, Arsenal had been reduced to 10 men when Rob Holding was shown a
second yellow card for a foul on Son, while the South Korean finished off any hopes
the Gunners had when he fired in from 10 yards two minutes after half-time.
Such was the manner of this Spurs win – added to the momentum they are gathering
under manager Antonio Conte – they must have increasing belief they can yet snatch
a top-four place away from Arsenal.
Conte’s team look so impressive, organized and solid in defense with the deadly pair
of Kane and Son a permanent menace in attack.
Spurs have two eminently winnable fixtures remaining at home to struggling Burnley
and at relegated Norwich City while Arsenal must travel to Newcastle United – no
easy task these days – before a final home fixture against Everton, who may yet be
fighting for survival.
Conte has brought the best out of this Spurs side by implementing his trademark
fierce tactical discipline while still getting the most from those two outstanding
forwards, who have been augmented by impressive January signing Dejan Kulusevski.
As Spurs flourished and Arsenal wilted, it made for a celebratory atmosphere among
a record crowd of 62,027 inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Spurs are still the hunters but they have a real chance of making the top four to
round off some fine work by Conte, who took over an out-of-sorts side in eighth place
when he succeeded sacked Nuno Espirito Santo in November.
This was a night of unrelenting misery for Arsenal in an environment where their
struggles are relished more than any other.
Mikel Arteta’s side were never given the chance to settle and once Kane put Spurs
ahead it was all downhill, with Holding’s needless sending-off making an already
difficult task impossible.
The late hamstring injury to key defender Gabriel only added to their suffering but
the positive for Arteta and his players is that their destiny remains firmly in their own
hands. If Arsenal win their next two games they will be in next season’s Champions