Tottenham continues climb with win over Arsenal
|Toronto Star 10 Feb 2018 at 20:19|
LONDON—With a north London derby victory, Tottenham emerged from one of its most taxing runs in the English Premier League unbeaten and with its top-four pursuit reinvigorated.
Only a second-half header from Harry Kane separated Tottenham from Arsenal on Saturday. But the 1-0 scoreline did not reflect the chasm in quality on the pitch with Tottenham in complete control at Wembley Stadium in front of a Premier League record crowd of 83,222.
Tottenham has collected seven points from a possible nine, following victory over Manchester United and a draw at Liverpool , to climb into the third Champions League qualification place.
“It was a big stage in our season and we have come out with flying colours,” Kane said after scoring a league-leading 23rd goal. “We have got good momentum.”
Next up is a trip to Juventus on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16.
It’s a competition Arsenal is absent from this season and is struggling to seal a return. Arsene Wenger’s side is stuck in sixth place and six points behind Liverpool in fourth place.
Manchester City is running away with the title, going 16 points in front of Manchester United after Sergio Aguero scored four in a 5-1 victory over Leicester.
United is at Newcastle on Sunday when third-place Liverpool is at Southampton.
In the tussle to stay in the Premier League, Swansea’s revival under Carlos Carvalhal continued with a 1-0 victory over Burnley taking the south Wales club out of the relegation zone.
Stoke remains in drop zone after drawing with Brighton 1-1, while West Ham moved five points clear of danger by beating Watford 2-0.
The clash of former England managers was won by Sam Allardyce as Everton rose to ninth place by beating Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace 3-1.
Turns out breaking the club’s transfer record doesn’t provide a quick fix. For the second consecutive away derby, Arsenal failed to score against Tottenham — something that hasn’t happened since 1975.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, an $80 million signing from Borussia Dortmund in the January transfer window, didn’t even manage a shot at Wembley. Alexandre Lacazette, a $68 million summer signing, fared little better — dragging a shot wide in stoppage time after coming off the bench.
Instead, Arsenal was left relying on goalkeeper Petr Cech to repeatedly thwart Tottenham and prevent an even heavier loss.
“We had opportunities, dangerous situations, but we did not transform (them) into opportunities, and that’s where my regret was,” Wenger said. “On the final ball, we missed something.”
Winning the Europa League is looking the best route — but a challenging one — to return to the Champions League.
“It is a game that we could not afford to lose,” Wenger said.
Aguero collected the match ball with another dazzling display. Kevin De Bruyne’s contribution in the thrashing of Leicester merited as much praise.
If you want a goal set up, there is no better player than De Bruyne.
The first of three assists — a low pass behind the defence to Raheem Sterling — came in the third minute. Although Jamie Vardy levelled, De Bruyne picked out Aguero at the start of the second half for a tap-in that restored City’s lead. De Bruyne fed Aguero again in the 53rd minute.
Aguero’s next two didn’t require De Bruyne’s assistance. He chipped the ball over Kasper Schmeichel in the 77th after a poor clearance by the goalkeeper, and struck off the underside of the crossbar in the 90th.
“He’s an authentic legend of this club,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of the striker who clinched City’s Premier League title in 2012 with almost the last kick of the season. “He has a special talent in the box. He is clinical.”