It is not as if Harry Kane has a point to prove against Arsenal. He is already the top scorer in the history of the north London derby.

Even so, Arsenal, take that. Kane had this game as good as won by half-time and the pressure is back on Mikel Arteta’s side to hang on to that fourth place. Win against Newcastle and Everton, of course, and there is still nothing Tottenham can do. One slip, however…

And Arsenal looked frail on Thursday as Kane and Son Heung-min took them apart. They got to a three-goal lead within the hour, the first time there had been that margin between these teams in Tottenham’s favour in Premier League history.

Harry Kane (above) opened the scoring by slotting the ball home from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute of the game

This is Spurs’ longest unbeaten run against Arsenal at home since a period between 1960 and 1968 — a time that included the Double winning season, and one Jimmy Greaves.

As for Kane, while everybody is giddy about the impending arrival of Erling Haaland, we shouldn’t forget the player Manchester City could have landed had Tottenham been amenable last summer. He is still capable of turning a match as important as this, he could still win a major team the title. Tottenham? There is some way to go yet, even with the magnificent Antonio Conte in charge.

It helps to have Son as a foil, too. Opponents are so busy watching one, the other can escape their attention. So Son earned the 22nd-minute penalty that broke the deadlock, Kane converted it.


For once, it wasn’t a foul by the hapless Rob Holding, but it was a foul, Cedric Soares pushing Son in the back as he competed for a Dejan Kulusevski cross. Paul Tierney, the referee, pointed to the spot, Kane kept it low and right.


Son was taken out on multiple occasions and even went face-to-face with Soares after the Arsenal defender manhandled him following a poor challenge (above) later in the game

Tottenham’s momentum built from that moment. In the 37th minute, Kane steered them further ahead. It was a Son corner from the right, flicked on by the head of Rodrigo Bentancur, with Kane quickest to spot what was developing and getting to the far post to convert with a diving header from very close range.


Arsenal diehards may argue that Holding’s sending-off changed the game but Tottenham were already on top. Anyway, no sympathy is due. Arsenal have had 13 players dismissed since Arteta’s first game in charge, five more than any other team. That’s on them, not the referees.

Arsenal worked very hard at getting this fixture just when it suited them, it was one of the most controversial postponements during the pandemic. Conte has never let Arteta forget — but the timing of this rescheduled fixture hardly seemed to do Arsenal any favours. By the time it had been slipped in to this penultimate week of the season, it was a huge game, a cup final for both teams. And Tottenham rose to the occasion.

They walked out here knowing that if Arsenal won, the fourth Champions League place would be as good as theirs. If Tottenham won, however, they would close the gap to a point — and could be two points clear by the time Arsenal next played.

By half-time, Tottenham led by two goals, and Arsenal were down to 10 men. Both were thoroughly deserved. Tottenham were good for their lead, it was right that Holding should play no further part beyond the 33rd minute. He set out to rattle Tottenham’s most in-form player, Son.


Whether this was Arteta’s instruction or a decision he made alone, we cannot know. But it seemed a pretty ordered, relentless campaign. One problem: Son is a much better player than Holding. He was manhandled, roughed up, and seemed on the verge of losing his temper. Yet his talent got him through.

Ultimately, Holding did not have much more than raw physicality and that wasn’t containing his man. So he was the one who ended up rattled. He was the one who ended up stretched. And he was the one who ended up sent-off.

It began with a niggle on the left flank. Holding fouled Son, then left a bit more on him as he lay on the ground, needlessly kicking him in the back. Son looked upset. It could easily have been a booking. Tierney chose a little chat.


Soon after, another coming together, this time in the middle. On this occasion, both men ended up on the turf but Holding wouldn’t let his man go. He dragged Son across and threw him off. Now, Son looked like he might lose it. Holding seemed to be getting what he wanted: Tottenham’s talisman distracted by a squabble.

Why didn’t Tierney do something? Third time’s a charm. In the 26th minute, Holding fouled Son and was shown a yellow card. Now he was the one feeling the strain. And, marking this tightly, 64 minutes was a long time to go without drawing a second caution.

In the end, the Arsenal man could not last eight. As a ball was played forward and Son set off in pursuit, he checked over his shoulder and stop-blocked him with a slightly raised elbow and his shoulder in a brutal position. He did his best to frame it as an accident but anyone who knows the game knew what he was up to.

So did Tierney. He marched over and showed a second yellow card. It could have been a straight red. Arteta was moaning on the touchline but if this was his plan it had failed miserably. From there, Tottenham were in complete control.

Maybe they would have been anyway. They were already a goal up when Holding was dismissed and Arsenal had offered little that impressed. Eddie Nketiah had a shot tipped over by Hugo Lloris in the 43rd minute, but his only other contribution had been a very obvious dive after three minutes when Eric Dier was nowhere near him.


Tottenham scored the goals and had the best chances. In the 27th minute, a great run from Kane across the area ended with the ball falling to Emerson Royal who should have done better than a wayward shot. In the 42nd minute, a deep cross by Ryan Sessegnon fell to Royal again, who missed from another good position.

As for Son, he got the last laugh, scoring the goal that very much put the game beyond Arsenal’s reach. It was fabulous work from Kane, getting the better of Gabriel and feeding the ball which Son fired into the net with goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale nowhere.

Much like Arsenal on Thursday night.


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