The North London derby is one of the most intense rivalries in football. The two teams have faced each other since 1886 and they refused to let go of their rivalry even when not playing each other for a few decades. Now, Tottenham are on course to qualify from the Champions League Group Stage after beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley thanks to Harry Kane’s first goal in eight months.
Tottenham Hotspur were in a precarious position before Harry Kane’s hat-trick against Arsenal last weekend. The North London derby marked the beginning of Tottenham’s rise back to the top 4 and now they are just one step away from Champions League football. Read more in detail here: premier league table.
LONDON — Harry Kane began the season looking for a way out of Tottenham, but he will finish it as the driving force behind a late push for Champions League qualifying.
Kane was already the all-time leading goal scorer in these games before bagging a brace on Thursday, extending his personal record to 13 and helping Spurs to a 3-0 victory against ten-man Arsenal, which blew the top-four competition wide open.
Spurs needed to win, and they did so thanks to their talisman coming up in the way he has so many times before, delivering their greatest league victory against Arsenal since 1983.
The extra importance this time is that earning a Champions League spot would enable Spurs keep Kane beyond the summer while also providing the financial influx needed to support Antonio Conte’s targeted makeover of the team to the point where they can fight for the Premier League championship shortly.
Tottenham can leapfrog Arsenal if they beat Burnley on Sunday lunchtime, a scenario Conte was able to plan for during a second half that quickly turned into a procession after Heung Min-Son slotted home a third goal after picking up a loose ball as Gabriel attempted to stop Kane’s advance into the box.
Spurs were so comfortable that Conte could retire Son and Dejan Kulusevski for the last 18 minutes, which will be a source of humiliation for the Gunners, especially since the former is only one point behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (22) in the Golden Boot competition.
However, this was not the night to consider individual awards. Arsenal and Tottenham both need the status and financial power that Champions League football brings, and the stakes just added to what had been a long-awaited night in this stadium.
Tottenham’s new £1 billion stadium opened in April 2019, but due to scheduling issues and COVID-19, the first derby was played in front of a capacity crowd on Thursday. And what a good time they had.
There were always doubts about how this youthful Arsenal team would cope with such a situation. Even in their four recent victories — against Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham, and Leeds — the Gunners have had a 15-20 minute period in which they have lost their cool. They had enough to get through such times on previous occasions, but it cost them the game this time.
The thunderous roar helped referee Paul Tierney award a penalty kick in the 22nd minute after Cedric pushed Son in the back as he sought to head toward goal. Spurs won on a razor-thin margin, with Kane executing the penalty with his trademark accuracy.
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• Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich on Saturday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. ET) • Hertha Berlin vs. Dortmund (9:30 a.m. ET) • RB Leipzig vs. Bielefeld (9:30 a.m. ET) • Liverpool vs. Chelsea (11:45 a.m. ET) • Valencia vs. Espanyol (12:30 p.m. ET)
Arsenal lost Gabriel late in the game to a similar injury, but White was still on the bench. Instead, they finished the game with Cedric, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Granit Xhaka, and Nuno Tavares in the back four — an impressive foursome for a game of this significance. White was apparently kept for Monday’s away trip to Newcastle, a game that takes on more significance now that their advantage has shrunk to a single point with two games remaining.
Significantly, Arsenal still has a chance to qualify for the Champions League, but the impetus has shifted to Tottenham after a derby day that is expected to thrill the hosts and demoralize the visitors.
The difficulties ahead will need calm minds and strong personalities. Kane’s transfer to Manchester City may have fallen through last summer and again recently with the signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, but he will be a key figure for Spurs as they try to rescue their season.