Harry Kane scored two second-half goals to complete a rousing fight back by Tottenham and secure a potentially vital 2-1 win victory over Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Already having canceled out Mesut Ozil’s early strike with a close-range finish at the start of the second half, Kane came up with his 21st goal of an increasingly fairytale breakthrough season to brilliantly head home the winner four minutes from time.
White Hart Lane was rocking at a decibel level unheard in some time. And understandably so. Fueled by the goals of one of their own youth products, a first win over their north London rivals in more than three years has taken Tottenham above Arsenal and, temporarily at least, into fourth place in the Premier League.
It was no less than Tottenham deserved. For Arsenal it was a similar approach to the one that finally delivered them a big win away from home last month against Manchester City. Sitting back and looking to strike on the break, the plan appeared to be working perfectly when the man brought back into the side presumably for his defensive responsibility and pace on the counter, Danny Welbeck, burst clear, and, from a mishit shot from Olivier Giroud, Ozil volleyed home for his third goal in as many games.
The game appeared to be following a similar pattern to the corresponding fixture last season. Then Arsenal struck early and held firm for a 1-0 win. But on Saturday, they encountered a Tottenham team playing with far more intensity and purpose. While there was a lack of end product, despite dominating the ball, in the opening half, after the break it increasingly appeared a matter of time before their pressure told.
It was no surprise that Kane provided the leveler, following up after Mousa Dembele’s near-post header from a corner had been well tipped away by the increasingly active David Ospina. In a thrilling encounter, both teams had chances to get a decisive goal. But it was Tottenham who continued to be in the ascendency, and Kane, supplied by a perfect Nabil Bentaleb cross, who sealed a memorable win after a performance that suggests Mauricio Pochettino’s side are a real threat to end a 20-year run of looking up at Arsenal at the season’s climax.
The mood of optimism was a far cry from the opening stages of the match, which suggested it would be a familiar story for those in white. An Arsenal side coming into the match in as impressive form as any team in England, and with five straight wins, looked to set up solidly and exploit what they doubtless expected to be the numerous holes in their opponents. Arsene Wenger will have been delighted when all his plans appeared to be coming together in the 11th minute. Arsenal won the ball back on halfway, and, with Jan Vertonghen already committed upfield, Welbeck surged easily beyond Danny Rose, before his pull back was inadvertently helped onto a just onside Ozil by Giroud.
It was Rose who was in many ways the key man in the first half. Having been exposed for Arsenal’s goal, the left-back consistently provided the best attacking outlet for Spurs surging forward into space. Unfortunately for Tottenham, his end product was more often than not found wanting. Rose did test Ospina in the Arsenal goal with a low shot, while the Colombian also had to repel a long-range effort from Ryan Mason. But given the extent of Tottenham’s dominance for much of the opening 45 minutes, Pochettino will have been disappointed by how little Ospina was worked.
After the interval his side stepped it up a gear. Tottenham had more energy and bite in the midfield and increasingly pushed Arsenal back. In the 56th minute the visitors finally buckled as Kane pounced. Arsenal, and especially Ospina, had to show resolve to prevent quickly conceding a second, before they were roused into rediscovering the attacking side of their game that had been absent since they went in front. While Arsenal have at long last developed another way of playing, they still have work to do in striking the right balance at the right time.
After Hugo Lloris saved well from Welbeck, it was Tottenham pushing to secure all three points in the final 10 minutes. While Lamela skied horribly over the bar with his second clear opening of the contest, Kane made no mistake with a sublime header directed into the corner from a pin-point Bentaleb cross. A win at Liverpool on Tuesday, and a place in next season’s Champions League will really begin to look a reality.