Saturday, June 22, 2024

Mourinho’s Spurs race away from shambolic Arsenal with clinical efficiency

Spurs go top, Arsenal stay in 15th

English Premier League

1Tottenham Hotspur117311424
4Leicester City11704621
5Manchester United10613219
6Manchester City10532618
7West Ham United11524417
10Wolverhampton Wanderers11524-417
11Crystal Palace11515116
12Aston Villa9504715
13Newcastle United10424-314
14Leeds United11425-414
16Brighton and Hove Albion10244-210
19West Bromwich Albion11137-156
20Sheffield United110110-131

Harry Kane to Son Heung-min. Goal. Son to Kane. Game over. The most lethal double act in the Premier League were at it again, combining to give Tottenham a 2-0 lead by half-time and the platform for a comfortable return to the top of the table.

The numbers alone are worth highlighting. Kane has scored 14 goals and made 12 assists in all competitions this season while for Son it is 13 goals and six assists. But it is more than that. It is the understanding that the pair have built, the instinctiveness of it, how they operate at such tempo and with such ruthlessness.

It was stamped all over the second goal, in particular, with Kane bending his run around Son on a rapid break before accepting the pass and blasting high past Bernd Leno. Son’s opener had been more of an individual effort – and a beautiful one, at that – although Kane did get him up and running, and it became a question as to whether Arsenal’s misfiring attack could penetrate the meanest defence in the division. Most of those present, who included 2,000 vociferous home fans, knew the answer.

It was the latest triumph of José Mourinho’s counterattacking gameplan and Kane’s goal meant he became the highest all-time scorer in this derby with 11 – one clear of Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith.

Arsenal’s woes go on. Mired in their worst start to a Premier League season, it is now five defeats in the past seven games in the competition and they cannot buy a break in front of goal. Only the bottom three clubs have scored fewer than their 10.

Mikel Arteta played Alexandre Lacazette in a roving role behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and he did not look like the creative solution as Arsenal struggled to break the lines or get in behind Spurs. They dominated possession but their play was almost always in front of their rivals – in other words, where Mourinho wanted them. It felt as though Arsenal could have worked their patterns all night without reward. They crossed and crossed and then crossed some more but Spurs kept on clearing

Arsenal knew they had to be wary of Spurs’ transitions but it is one thing to know that and quite another to stop them. They fell behind after one of their moves broke down on the edge of the Spurs area and it was Eric Dier clearing from Héctor Bellerín’s cross and Serge Aurier helping the ball up to Kane on halfway.

Kane held the ball up, as Gabriel stepped off him – a bad idea – before he turned and played in Son up the inside-left channel. Son cut inside and unfurled a trademark curler for the far corner, getting everything just right and leaving Leno clutching at thin air. Bellerín sank to his knees in anguish.

The contrasting fortunes of the key central midfielders on either side was instructive. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was once again outstanding in front of the Spurs back four whereas Thomas Partey lasted only 45 minutes for Arsenal upon his return from a thigh injury. Even worse, when Partey felt a recurrence of the problem and headed off, he left a hole for Spurs to exploit for the second goal. “We had four versus three and suddenly Thomas is walking towards me,” Arteta said, doing a good job of hiding his exasperation.

Aurier intercepted a Bellerín cross that was meant for Aubameyang and when he set Giovani Lo Celso away it was shocking to see that Spurs had four counterattackers against two defenders. Lo Celso, who played in place of Tanguy Ndombele, who was ill, found Son and there was an inevitability about what happened after that. Kane’s overlapping run was well timed; the finish from a tight angle was lashed in off the underside of the crossbar.

Arteta pushed his full-backs high at the start of the second half and it added up to him going for broke in light of how threatening Spurs were on the break. Having failed in the first half to work Hugo Lloris, who was passed fit after a health scare, the visitors knew they needed the next goal and they had a couple of openings straight away.

Lacazette drew a save out of Lloris with a flicked header from a free-kick before Kieran Tierney picked out Aubameyang with a lovely cross. The Arsenal captain headed high – a bad miss. He has not scored a league goal in open play since 12 September.

Arsenal camped inside the Spurs half after the interval but their only other real chance came on 68 minutes when Lloris fumbled a Lacazette header around his post.

Mourinho has never lost a home game against Arsenal while Arteta has never beaten him as a player or manager. Neither record felt in peril.



  • 1 Lloris
  • 24 Aurier
  • 4 Alderweireld
  • 15 Dier
  • 3 Reguilon
  • 17 Sissoko
  • 5 Hojbjerg
  • 23 Bergwijn
  • 18 Lo Celso 
  • 7 Son
  • 10 Kane


  • 8 Winks
  • 9 Bale
  • 12 Hart
  • 14 Rodon (s 90′)
  • 27 Lucas Moura (s 88′)
  • 33 Davies (s 72′)
  • 45 Vinicius


  • 1 Leno
  • 2 Bellerin
  • 16 Holding
  • 6 Gabriel
  • 3 Tierney
  • 12 Willian
  • 18 Thomas
  • 34 Xhaka 
  • 7 Saka
  • 9 Lacazette 
  • 14 Aubameyang

Opta’s post-match stats pack

  • Spurs have won consecutive Premier League North London derbies for just the third time, after December 1992 & May 1993, and April 2010 & November 2010.
  • Mikel Arteta is just the second Arsenal manager to lose each of his first two North London derbies after Bertie Mee in 1966-67.
  • Spurs boss José Mourinho has taken charged of more home games in all competitions without defeat against Arsenal than he has versus any other side (11 – W7 D4).
  • Arsenal have earned just 13 points from 11 league games this season, their lowest return at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1981-82 (12 points).
  • This was the 11th time a José Mourinho side has had 35 percent possession or lower in a Premier League match, with the Tottenham manager winning nine of those matches (D1 L1).
  • Tottenham duo Son Heung-min and Harry Kane have now combined for 31 Premier League goals, the second most of any duo after Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (36) – 11 of these goals have come in 2020-21.
  • Harry Kane scored his 250th goal in his senior career for club and country – 202 for current club Spurs, 32 for England, nine for Millwall, five for Leyton Orient and two for Leicester City.
  • Tottenham skipper Harry Kane has now scored 11 goals in North London derbies, the most of any player in the fixture’s history, overtaking Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith.
  • Spurs’ Harry Kane assisted his 10th Premier League goal of the season in just 11 games; no player has ever reached 10 assists in fewer appearances from the start of a campaign in the competition (level with Mesut Özil in 2015-16)

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