Tottenham ensured they remained just four points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, and confirmed they would finish above arch-rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1994-95, with an impressive north London derby win at White Hart Lane. Chelsea’s 3-0 victory at Everton put the pressure on Spurs – but they responded in style with a ninth successive league win to continue their best sequence since October 1960, when they won 13 games in a row. The match was decided with two goals in just over a minute, Dele Alli scoring his 21st goal for Spurs this season with a close-range finish in the 55th minute before Harry Kane netted from the spot after he was fouled by Gabriel. Arsenal, whose top-four hopes are in serious jeopardy as they remain six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand, were only spared a heavy defeat in the last derby at this stadium in its current incarnation by a magnificent display from keeper Petr Cech.
Spurs might have been forgiven for entering this game with an air of resignation after Chelsea restored their lead – albeit temporarily – to seven points with victory at Everton. It took them 45 minutes to perhaps clear their heads, although they had the best chances of the first half through Alli’s header and Christian Eriksen’s side-foot effort against the bar, before they demonstrated the quality and development that has characterised their season. Manager Mauricio Pochettino clearly reminded his players of what might still be at stake at half-time, and they emerged at full throttle and maximum physicality to overpower Arsenal and win the game with that quick-fire one-two. Pochettino looks to be establishing the platform for a golden future at White Hart Lane, while Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger is trying desperately to recreate the glories of the past. Pochettino has a young, powerful, talented team with a strong English foundation, while Wenger presides over an Arsenal group that is a pale shadow of those of even recent vintage that may not even offer the traditional place in the Champions League to console him.
The Gunners look flimsy and lacking in presence, and if Wenger stays at Emirates Stadium, which looks likely, he faces a formidable rebuilding task. The irony, of course, is Arsenal are the club in north London with the chance of tangible success after reaching the FA Cup final – a task beyond Spurs as they lost to Chelsea in the semi-finals. Spurs and Arsenal moved to add power and stability to their midfield in the summer with the signings of Victor Wanyama and Granit Xhaka respectively. There is no question who got the better deal. Wanyama, an £11m buy from Southampton, stamped his presence all over midfield here with his imposing frame and ball-winning ability. Xhaka, in contrast, was little more than a liability with his poor challenges and wayward distribution, again looking well short of the quality expected from a player bought for in the region of £30m.