Commentary

Three takeaways from Tottenham-Arsenal

By Ridge Mahoney
(@ridgemax)

Another scintillating display from one of the brightest lights in the Premier League, Spurs forward Harry Kane, drove Tottenham past Arsenal, 2-1, Saturday in the 175th edition of the North London derby.

Kane struck twice in the second half after an early goal by Mesut Ozil pushed Arsenal in front. Ozil scored from close range in the 11th minute after Olivier Giroud had either miskicked or re-directed a Danny Welbeck cross into his path.

Tottenham equalized when Kane glided to the back post and first-timed a ball parried by keeper David Ospina behind the Gunners keeper. Spurs won the match in the 86th minute with an elegant header from Kane, who backpedaled several steps to meet a midfield cross from Nabil Bentaleb and loop it into the top corner.

Here are three takeaways from a dramatic North London derby:

1. Dazzling derby debut adds another chapter to Kane story.

Not since academy product Ledley King captained Spurs during an injury-shortened career have their fans so lustily enjoyed a local player, and Kane added another chapter to his compelling story by scoring twice in his first match against Arsenal.

Kane, 21, grew up just minutes away from the Tottenham stadium, White Hart Lane, and started in the Arsenal academy at age 8 before joining Tottenham three years later. Starting in 2011, he went on loan to four teams and when given a spot last spring in the starting lineup by former manager Tim Sherwood, scored in three straight games.

He didn’t play in the first match against Arsenal this season, a 1-1 tie in late September, but since gaining a regular-first team place under manager Mauricio Pochettino in November has scored 10 of his 12 league goals and upped his tally in all competitions to 22. England manager Roy Hodgson was on hand to witness the display, and the U-21 international produced another strong case for a callup to the senior team.

Kane’s goals punished Arsenal’s inability to control the center and secure the flanks while revealing poise and focus not often seen in a young striker. He also has a rare sense of place for so young a player. After the final whistle as his teammates celebrated, he took a solo lap around the field to applaud the delirious fans saluting him. Already he’s part of the lore and storied history at White Hart Lane.

2. Spurs leans to the left.

Gunners right back Hector Bellerin has kept the slot and opponents have targeted him with varying degrees of success. As Tottenham pushed forward after equalizing, Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen took turns running at Bellerin. For all the effort, however, grim defending by Arsenal allowed only a pull back that produced a decent chance that Eric Lamela scuffed badly.

Pochettino had ramped up his left-sided efforts by bringing on Nader Chadli for Moussa Dembele, who had been playing in the hole behind Kane. Chadli pushed up on the left wing to apply more impetus and that pressure indirectly contributed to the goal; Arsenal dropped so deep none of its players were close when Bentaleb lofted a ball from about 45 yards out that Kane headed home for the winner.

Central midfield partners Ryan Mason and Bentaleb strengthened their influence on the match after Arsenal took the lead, and Santi Cazorla was unable to orchestrate play and dictate tempo. Tomas Rosicky replaced Cazorla midway through the second half and 10 minutes later Theo Walcott replaced Welbeck, whose stinging shot with the score 1-1 had been sharply saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.

3. Frantic fight for fourth.

Tottenham’s quest to finish in the top four will take it to Liverpool on Tuesday, Manchester United next month, and Southampton in April for road matches that will be crucial. It is battling all three teams, as well as Arsenal, for a Champions League playoff place. Its only appearance in the history of that competition occurred in the 2010-11 season after a fourth-place finish.

TRIVIA. The win brings Spurs’s take to 15 points in games they have trailed. It also pushed Spurs ahead of Arsenal in the standings and raises hopes among the fans it can finish ahead of its bitter rivals for the first time since Arsene Wenger was hired ... in 1996!

Feb. 7 in London
Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1.
Goals: Kane 56, 86; Ozil 11.
Tottenham --
Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason (Paulinho, 90), Bentaleb, Lamela (Stambouli, 90), Dembele (Chadli, 75); Eriksen, Kane.
Arsenal --
Ospina; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin (Akpom 89), Cazorla (Rosicky, 68), Ramsey, Ozil; Giroud, Welbeck (Walcott, 78).
Att.
: 35,659.

2 comments about "Three takeaways from Tottenham-Arsenal".
  1. Mary Galbraith, February 7, 2015 at 5:13 p.m.

    Haha Harry Redknapp England's manager. Wishful thinking?

  2. Zoe Willet, February 7, 2015 at 6:27 p.m.

    So what's the final word on Ade, since 'Arry wasn't able to get him at QPR?

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