2-1 victory over Arsenal gives Spurs hope of top three finish
But for Arsenal to finish in top four and qualify for Champions League now looks improbable
Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1. Two goals in two minutes were enough for Spurs to see off Arsenal in an entertaining north London derby and leave the Gunners' manager admitting that a top four finish this season will be extremely difficult.
Gareth Bale scored the opener, a cool finish from the Welshman and his ninth goal in seven games for the Lilywhites. When Aaron Lennon scored the second on 39 minutes it looked like being a long afternoon for the Arsenal faithful, though the Gunners actually made a game of it in the second half, with Per Mertesacker finding the net with a header six minutes after the break.
But in truth anything but a Spurs victory would have been a travesty on an afternoon when the hosts underlined their progress under Andre Villas-Boas. They were superior to Arsenal in all facets of the game and are now third, two points behind Manchester City and seven ahead of Arsenal who are back in fifth.
While some Arsenal fans might be tempted to point out that last season their team clawed back a similar deficit in the last two months of the campaign, they would do well to remember that back then they had Robin van Persie. Nowadays they have no striker of that class, plus possibly the most pathetic defence in the Premier League.
Frankly, the Arsenal back four has been a disgrace for far too long and the ease with which it was split open by Spurs leaves one wondering how exactly defence coach Steve Bould justifies his salary.
First Gylfi Sigurdsson picked out Bale with a sumptuous ball through the heart of the Gunners defence, and two minutes later Scott Parker fed Lennon with a similar pass as the Arsenal players stood still, as if they were modeling to become the next player to be immortalised in bronze outside the Emirates.
"It's very frustrating because we had a great attitude but we come out with no points," said Arsene Wenger, whose own defence these days is as laughable as that of his own team. "The only times Tottenham were dangerous today was on counter-attacks. If you are dominated and they create chance after chance, OK you accept it. But today it was a strange game to lose."
Strange, only because Wenger remains in denial over the glaring deficiencies in his team. Asked why his defence conceded two soft goals to Tottenham in the first half, he replied: "It happened to us many times this season and only in big games. It's difficult to say why, there's no common thing, in all the games there is a different problem."
No, it's a common problem, Monsieur Wenger, your boys aren't good enough against the best teams in the Premiership, nor even against Bradford or Blackburn, come to think of it.
But while Arsenal face a massive challenge to finish in the top four and ensure qualification for next season's Champions League - "It will be difficult now," Wenger acknowledged to the BBC – Spurs, unbeaten in their last 12 matches, are looking good for a top three finish.
"That was very important, it meant a lot for our fans," said Villas-Boas. "We aim to continue doing well, but we have difficult fixtures coming up against Manchester City and Liverpool… it's not over until the last game of the season." ·