Tottenham took a big step towards securing a top four position in a entertaining North London derby victory over Arsenal at White Hart Lane.
The win gives Tottenham a seven point gap over their London rivals as they move into 3rd place in the Premier League and stretch their unbeaten run to 12 games.
Arsenal are now five points behind Chelsea, and are in danger of failing to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for the first time under Arsene Wenger
Gareth Bale got the opening goal as he scored in his 5th consecutive Premier League game before Aaron Lennon added a second, rounding goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, with an almost identical move.
Per Mertesacker’s header then went in off Bale to give Arsenal a lifeline, but Spurs held strong to claim a vital victory.
The Gunners started the game off stronger. Olivier Giroud was put through on goal, only for the impressive Jan Vertonghen to deny the Frenchman an early opportunity.
Emmanuel Adebayor, who got red carded in the previous match between the sides, may have been lucky to not receive the same punishment when his rash tackle on Aaron Ramsey only resulted in a yellow card.
Despite a strong Arsenal start it was Spurs and the man of the moment, Gareth Bale, who put them ahead. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s precise pass sliced through the Arsenal defence to allow Bale a simple finish past the keeper.
Spurs struck again just two minutes later. A similar moved resulted in Scott Parker this time setting free Aaron Lennon, who calmly rounded the Arsenal goalkeeper to double Tottenham’s lead.
Questions will again be asked about the nature of Arsenal’s defending as Spurs easily found gaps in the Gunners back four.
Arsenal were 2-0 behind in the previous fixture at the Emirates, only to come back and claim a comprehensive 5-2 victory. A Gareth Bale own goal gave Arsenal belief history could repeat itself.
Persistent work from Ramsey earned his side a free kick, and when Mertesacker’s header went in off Bale, Arsenal were back in the game.
Arsenal continued to press. Ramsey and substitute Lukas Poldolski both missed good opportunities to level the scores.
As Arsenal continued to push forward, Tottenham were looking dangerous on the counter attack. Bale and Sigurdsson also missing good chances to put the game out of sight.
Despite pressure late on, and an additional six minutes added, Spurs fought hard to open up what could be a decisive seven point gap on their rivals.
Worrying injuries picked up to Mousa Dembele and Emmanuel Adebayor were the only sour point, in what was a fantastic day for one part of North London.
A Tottenham victory stands them in good stead to finish above Arsenal for the first time since the 1994/95 season.