After 96 minutes of sweat, hardship and an inevitable tinge of Gareth Bale majesty, Tottenham saw out a 2-1 win over their bitter rivals, Arsenal, to once again claim their spot at third in the English top flight.
One of the Premier League’s most heated derbies goes in Spurs’ favour following a pair of embarrassing 5-2 defeats at the hands of the Gunners over the last two seasons.
Andre Villas Boas’ side now boast an impressive record in this fixture when playing with home advantage, having not lost against Arsenal when playing at White Hart Lane since 2007.
As is ever the case, though, this fierce exchange left us with about as many questions as it did answers, some of which we’ll discuss below.
Spurs Now Edging the North London Balance
While Tottenham may have taken a grip on the derby for now, the pendulum of power will undoubtedly continue to swing throughout North London.
However, that doesn’t mean that the white half of the area will let their red rivals forget who’s on top anytime soon, regardless of how temporary that position may or may not be.
That being said, the most meaningful outcome of this result is that Spurs now gratefully accept a seven-point gap over fifth-place Arsenal, whose Champions League future appears increasingly uncertain.
Although Tottenham have come on leaps and bounds in terms of their stature amongst the English elite in recent years, the club are arguably achieving what all clubs in their position ultimately seek: consistency.
Look at Tottenham's work-rate, their discipline, their focus, and tell me again that their success this season is all down to Bale.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) March 3, 2013
Admittedly, Arsenal’s previous consecutive 5-2 victories in the derby mean the Gunners can still cling to some bragging rights when it comes to this particular encounter, but such results only remain relevant for so long.
After going seven years without silverware, Arsenal fans may now have to contend with the thought of breaking a 16-year streak of Champions League football as they simmer outside the top four and time running out.
Such a fate is likely to only worsen Arsene Wenger’s standing amongst a large portion of the Emirates Stadium crowd while Tottenham’s trajectory seems to be aiming nowhere but up.
AVB Signings Make All the Difference
With that last point in mind, however, it was Spurs’ summer signings that made all the difference for the winning outfit—all of whom happen to come from abroad.
In defence, it was Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris pulling out all the stops to ensure Tottenham came out on top of the struggle, while Moussa Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson also pitched in with confident displays.
While it may take some foreign players a while to settle into their new clubs, the aforementioned quartet now appear at home at White Hart Lane, and all contributed massively in the most recent run over their bitter rivals.
Although Dembele and Sigurdsson both have previous experience playing in the English top flight, Vertonghen and Lloris are both new to the division but aren’t showing it.
Vertonghen in particular was surprisingly effective against the Gunners, functioning magnificently alongside Michael Dawson in central defence and earning a Man of the Match accolade in the process.
Every manager can only hope that the signings he makes thrive as much in their new surroundings as they might have in the past, and it’s an affirmation of AVB’s business acumen to see his new players succeed in a match so important to the fans.