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.
Defeat for Arsenal leaves them seven points behind their fiercest rivals as Tottenham boosted their chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.
Both teams came into this fixture on the up, with Arsenal buoyed by their blockbuster buys in January and a 5-1 thumping of Everton, while Spurs stood unbeaten in 11.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was virtually anonymous here and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ineffective, so it was left to Tottenham’s own star man to come up trumps again.
Kane admitted this week games against Arsenal give him an extra buzz after they released him as an eight-year-old. On another day the 24-year-old could have had a hat-trick.
Toby Alderweireld was not included, perhaps left to work on his fitness ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Juventus, while January signing Lucas Moura made the squad for the first time.
For Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey was a surprise omission but Petr Cech was passed fit in goal, with Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan taking their places in a front three alongside Mesut Ozil.
A chaotic opening quarter of an hour had both teams threatening on the counter-attack but it took until the 27th minute for the first real chance to arrive.
Kane should have scored as he drifted beyond Nacho Monreal and Christian Eriksen found him with a clipped cross, but the striker, unmarked, headed over from seven yards.
Spurs settled quicker but in truth the half deteriorated as it went on. Eric Dier could have turned in a skewed Mousa Dembele shot but he also miskicked and by the whistle both teams looked in need of a reset.
When they re-emerged, however, it was Tottenham who grabbed the ascendancy, punching the ball forward faster and harrying their opponents with the sort of aggression Arsenal were either not ready for or simply unable to match.
There was little complicated about Kane’s opener. Ben Davies was allowed time to cross from the left and he jumped high above Laurent Koscielny, before nodding past Cech.
For the next 30 minutes, Arsenal were hanging on as Kane glanced Dier’s delivery wide and then leathered a volley straight at Cech, after Kieran Trippier had poked the ball through Jack Wilshere’s legs.
Cech, in the spotlight after recent errors, came to the rescue again soon after, with Eriksen’s dipping free-kick heading for the top corner before the keeper tipped it over.
Wenger sent on Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi shortly after the hour to replace Mohamed Elneny and the out-of-sorts Mkhitaryan but the pattern remained the same.
It was just a case of how costly Spurs’ wastefulness would prove as Dele Alli had a glorious chance one against one, but prodded a dribbling finish wide, before Cech denied both Trippier and substitute Erik Lamela from close range.
The home side knew they should have been out of sight and the mood grew nervy in the final minutes. Lacazette twice should have made them pay, volleying one chance over and then skewing an even better one wide when Davinson Sanchez got the wrong side. Tottenham held on.
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