Three things learned as Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley

Alex Rea 10/02/2018
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Harry Kane after another missed chance

Harry Kane proved Arsenal‘s nemesis again as his bullet header earned Tottenham a deserved 1-0 victory in the north London derby.

Spurs could have won by more at Wembley had they not squandered countless chances in the second half but Kane’s seventh goal in eight versions of this fixture was enough to seal all three points.

Here, we look at three things learned from a Spurs perspective.

KANE NOT YET THE WORLD’S BEST CENTRE-FORWARD

Seven goals in seven Premier League games against Arsenal – Kane is well and truly the king in the north of London.

But the Spurs striker should have stretched that record to at least nine with a hat-trick opportunity missed.

Seconds after his brilliantly headed opener, he missed with another seconds later and then saw a bullet volley stopped by Cech. He glanced wide from yards out with another header in the first half and there’s a legitimate argument to suggest his support play superseded his finishing on Saturday.

Yet, Kane showed all the elements of his repertoire to support his case as the world’s best centre-forward – a conversation which includes Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez.

His movement to float between the two Arsenal centre-backs was clever, his one-touch lay-offs crafty while his perfectly executed switch balls were crisp.

Suarez was the last player to break the 30-goal barrier in the Premier League in 2013/14 and it’s reaching that bracket which will truly elevate the England international above the likes of the Uruguayan and Lewandowski.

He’s on track with 23 already, but squandering chances like he did against Arsenal is why he’s in the discussion rather than leading it – for now at least, after all at 24 he’s nine years Suarez’s junior and seven to Lewandowski.

HALF-TIME GENIUS FROM POCHETTINO

Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger before Saturday's clashMauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger before Saturday’s clash

There have been games and moments in which Mauricio Pochettino has truly announced his managerial eminence.

Outclassing Manchester United and Liverpool, taking four points from Real Madrid and six from Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League are testaments to their big-game mentality.

There have been games where they have failed to perform but that never looked like being the case on Saturday as they stretched their unbeaten run to 12.

Another late-season charge appears to be on the cards and with Spurs sitting third, Pochettino’s side are right in the mix for a top-four finish.

And the manager deserves tremendous credit for a huge three points. Arsene Wenger did the right thing and started with a compact midfield to nullify Dele Ali, Christian Eriksen and Son.

The route to Kane was cut off with Elneny and Xhaka rotating as a third centre-back. But after half-time, Pochettino replied by pushing Son and Eriksen wide with their full-backs taking up a more central position.

It meant there was no one to stop the crosses as they came in field and ultimately it proved dividends with the winner.

A brilliant tactical tweak from Pochettino and another justification of why Madrid are sniffing around.

DAVIES’ DELIVERY IS UNDERRATED 

Whenever Ben Davies takes to the field his attitude is near exemplary.

Committed and commanding, it’s easy to see why Spurs fans have taken to the 24-year-old left-back.

He is keeping Danny Rose out of the team on merit and considering figures of £50million are being tagged to him, you wonder how much Davies is worth.

The Welshman has barely been singled out for the praise he deserves having really gone up another level in recent weeks but he was superb again on Saturday.

His crossing ability is seriously underrated and the delivery for Kane’s header was a real peach for a sixth assist of the season.

The fact he was afforded the time by Arsenal defenders is for another day but the cross practically rolled out the red carpet for a blockbuster header. It wasn’t quality in isolation though. He crossed the ball five times against Arsenal and all were whipped into dangerous areas in between the centre-halves and goalkeeper.

Away from his quality on the ball, his adaptability was another key asset for Spurs as he moved into field to help create space for Son who was being doubled up on.

A previously perceived weak link in the wake of Rose’s injury troubles has become an area strength.

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Tottenham player ratings in 1-0 win over Arsenal as Harry Kane scores an 8 and Dele Alli gets a 6

Chris Bailey 10/02/2018
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Harry Kane proved to be the difference in the north London derby again as Tottenham recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday.

A header from the England striker early in the second half was enough to earn Spurs all three points and move into third place in the Premier League with Liverpool and Chelsea playing on Sunday.

Here, we rate the performance of the Tottenham players.

TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1)

Hugo Lloris – Munching popcorn before he plucked out a venomous Jack Wilshere effort from the air. That’s the type of attention span you want from a goalkeeper in a dominant side. 7

Kieran Trippier – Not as eye-catching on the right flank as Davies but was stout defensively, though he was helped by the fact that Mkhitaryan was speaking a different language to his team-mates. Gobbledigook. 7

Jan Vertonghen – Much like Rio Ferdinand, Vertonghen is the type of player that on his day operates with such control that nary a hair on his head is out of place come the final whistle. It was one of those days. 9

Davinson Sanchez – Not quite as composed as his partner – a little more blood and thunder with his tackling and you’re never entirely comfortable watching him dally on the ball. Nearly soured Spurs’ day after letting Lacazette through in injury-time. 6

Ben Davies – Had new Wales boss Ryan Giggs been in the stands he’d have a genuine rival for best left foot within the confines of Wembley – a beauty of a cross to set up Kane. Was a little lax defensively in the first half, as Arsenal’s best moments came down his side. 8

Eric Dier – Let the entertainers juggle while he mopped up the loose balls. Let Wilshere bypass on a couple of occasions but past the 20-minute mark, there was only one winner in that particular battle. 7

Moussa Dembele – Wouldn’t melt under pressure if you stuck him in a microwave. Danced around Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny for fun in the middle of the park. 8

Christian Eriksen – Whipped in a delicious cross off his right peg – to match Davies – that Kane should have gobbled up in the first half. Did not wane a bit in influence in the second half as he flayed Arsenal’s centre-backs with vexing throughballs. 8

Dele Alli – Produced some exquisite touches and tricks but, relative to the work being produced both ahead of him and around him, was not the star artist on show. 6

Son Heung-Min – His parting shot was one of the worst you’ll ever see – at least 30 feet over Cech’s crossbar – but Arsenal paid special attention to him as there were three men around him nearly every time he touched the ball. He thoroughly deserves that attention. 7

Harry Kane – Missed a sitter with his head in the first half and was given a second chance. Then proceeded to miss two other gilt-edged opportunities. But he deserves a high mark purely for some surgical link-up play, the best of which found Erik Lamela. Sitter-misser turned sitter-provider. 8

SUBSTITUTES:

Erik Lamela – Had an eventful 20 minutes on the pitch – fluffing his lines and receiving a yellow card. However, he dovetailed effortlessly into a dangerous attack as Tottenham kept the pace up until the end. 6

Eric Wanyama – In the last five shored up a Tottenham side that really should have been out of sight. N/A

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Harry Kane should have had a hat-trick but striker is difference as Tottenham beat Arsenal

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Harry Kane scores the only goal for Tottenham versus Arsenal.

Harry Kane’s second-half header proved enough to earn Tottenham a deserved 1-0 triumph against shoddy north London rivals Arsenal and storm – at least temporarily – into the Premier League’s top three.

After he had glanced wide in the first half, Kane was clinical in the 49th minute when picked out by excellent Wales left-back Ben Davies. Kane actually should have earned a hat-trick by 54 minutes, but was uncharacteristically profligate.

Here, we analyse the performance of the Spurs striker:

STATISTICS 

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 4

Shots on target – 2

Touches – 32

Passes – 19

Key passes – 0

Dribbles – 0

Dispossessed – 1

30-SECOND REPORT

Emerged as the match winner once again in the north London derby when he took advantage of the porous Arsenal defence to head in the 49th-minute opener.

Consistently preyed on the deficiencies in the opposition rank and should have earned a hat-trick by 54 minutes. First headed an inviting Eric Dier centre wide, before lashing a thunderous volley straight at the overworked Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Would almost turn creator later on when he somehow spotted substitute Erik Lamela and cushioned a ball perfectly into his path.

GOT RIGHT

TARGETING A WEAK POINT – Kane swiftly realised his markers had no intention of properly performing their duties. Consistently – and expertly – drifted into the gaping chasm between Arsenal centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.

COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE – Kane’s enthusiasm for the derby was utilised perfectly. Would drop deeper when Arsenal players took too much time in his zone. But was still awake to fact he was the figurehead for Spurs’ attack. Had 11 more touches than opposite number Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

GOT WRONG

MISSING HIS MARK – On another day, Kane would have been heading home with the match ball.

From four presentable chances, it was strange to see Europe’s top goalscorer from 2017 only convert one. It is easy to forgive him not being able to convert a volley from the edge of a penalty box packed with Arsenal and Spurs players, plus the giant Petr Cech. But only scoring one header when unmarked three times is not like him.

KEY MOMENTS

5th min CHANCE CREATED: Kane’s trademark desire was on full show from the off. Drove back into his own half, tackled the dawdling Egypt centre midfielder Elneny and pinged a perfect ball to Son Heung-min, which the South Korea forward didn’t make the most of.

27th min CHANCE: Gets in-between Arsenal’s centre-backs, but header is not on target. Now smells blood after he realises how sloppy Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are in undertaking their defensive duties.

49th min GOAL: Can’t say Arsenal weren’t warned. Kane refuses to pass up another unmarked header and he guides the ball perfectly into the corner, for his seventh goal in seven appearances against the Gunners. Huge celebrations for the boyhood Spurs fan, against the team who released him as a nine-year-old.

52nd min CHANCE: Anchorman Dier picks out Kane from deep, whose header bounces wide. Probably should have scored, despite being just inside penalty area.

54th min CHANCE: Smashes a rasping volley straight at Arsenal keeper Cech from the edge of the box. Connection was perfect, but didn’t get enough angle on it. Another let off for the negligent visitors to Wembley.

72nd min CHANCE CREATED: A Spurs counter-attack caused a cross-field ball to be rocketed towards Kane. Somehow found time to swivel, see Erik Lamela in the corner of his eye and chest it delicately towards the Argentina winger. Just five seconds later, Cech was pulling off a fine stop. 

VERDICT

Alongside Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen and Belgium centre-back Jan Vertonghen, was one of the best players on the pitch.

Only regret will be the fact he was only able to add one goal to his leading Premier League tally for the season – which stands at 23.

Kane’s reputation as a complete striker was enhanced throughout. As his heatmap attests, work much harder than Arsenal’s lauded attacking trio of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang put together.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

Whoscored's heatmap comparing Harry Kane to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Whoscored’s heatmap comparing Harry Kane to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

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