By Chris Harris at White Hart Lane
Our last north London derby at White Hart Lane ended in defeat thanks to two goals in quick succession early in the second half.
Dele Alli pounced on a rebound to score the first after Petr Cech had denied Christian Eriksen. Just 146 seconds later, Harry Kane rolled in a penalty after going down under a challenge from Gabriel.
Aaron Ramsey went closest to a goal for us but Cech was the busier keeper, denying Kane, Victor Wanyama and Jan Vertonghen with fine saves, while Eriksen hit the crossbar.
This defeat isn’t too damaging in our quest for a top-four finish after both Manchester clubs dropped points earlier on Sunday. But there is probably no margin for error now with five games left.
We’ve had some good times at the Lane - not least winning the title here in 1971 and 2004. Our final visit won’t live so long in the memory.
BACK THREE AGAIN
Laurent Koscielny was passed fit as the boss opted for a 3-4-3 formation for the fourth straight game.
Kieran Gibbs kept his place with Nacho Monreal tucked inside at centre back and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - rested in midweek as a precaution - back on the right.
Olivier Giroud got the nod ahead of Danny Welbeck up front.
Spurs started on the front foot, and understandably so. A win would ensure they finished above us for the first time since 1995.
To give that some context, Arsene Wenger was managing in Japan and Hector Bellerin was two months old.
Our job was to delay Spurs’ local bragging rights and, most importantly, push our own claims for a top-four finish.
That job started on the back foot as Kane got a shot away inside the first minute, which Cech clutched at the second attempt.
Toby Alderweireld headed wide from a corner, and and the Ox got back brilliantly to challenge Alli as he tried to convert Kane’s deflected shot from a yard out.
Spurs really should have broken the deadlock when Heung-Min Son led a lightning break down the left. Son beat the Ox and his deflected cross was hammered against the crossbar by Eriksen.
The back three gave us security as we weathered the Spurs storm, but it cost us some creativity elsewhere.
Nonetheless, there were promising moments in the first half.
Gibbs forced an error from Eric Dier and continued his run into the box where he was just beaten to Alexis’ pass by Hugo Lloris.
Gibbs linked up with Alexis again but couldn’t get a snatched right-foot effort on target as he span his marker.
But it was Ramsey who went closest for us in the first half with a low curler that Lloris tipped away from the bottom corner.
SPURS ON TOP
We’d defended resolutely for the best part of an hour but Spurs edged ahead early in the second half - and doubled their lead just 146 seconds later.
Wanyama had just forced a fine save from Cech and Eriksen was the next to test our keeper after tricking his way past two defenders. Once again Cech stood up to the task but this time the loose ball fell for Alli, and he steered it into the net.
Things went from bad to worse.
Kane motored down the left and, as Gabriel came across, the England forward went down. The referee pointed to the spot and Kane scored with aplomb.
It felt harsh. All the same, Cech was racking up the saves. A brilliant fingertip stop from Vertonghen and another reflex stop from the same man, plus a brave block to deny Kane… our No 33 was kept busy.
The boss went for broke, bringing on Welbeck, Walcott and Bellerin and shifting to a back four.
There were glimmers of hope. Giroud volleyed wide after a corner dropped to him, Ramsey’s perseverance set up a chance for Giroud that Lloris saved. And Alexis also tested the Spurs keeper.
Walcott had a clear sight of goal with five minutes left and a goal then would have set up a grandstand finish.
But Lloris made the save and Spurs took the points.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.