Harry Kane’s header gave Tottenham a 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Saturday that widened the gap between the north London rivals in the pursuit of Champions League qualification.
A tepid derby came to life in the 49th minute when Kane soared over Laurent Koscielny to meet Ben Davies’ cross and sparked a second half of complete control by Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.
“We were caught by a super striker who is one of the best in the world who scores against everybody,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
It was Kane’s seventh goal in seven league games against Arsenal.
“I look forward to these games,” Kane said. “Thankfully I was there to put that away.”
All that was missing was another goal from the hosts at its temporary home in front of a Premier League record crowd of 83,222 _ 38 short of the English league record set in 1948. Tottenham powered seven points clear of Arsenal and rose from fifth to third place.
Any hopes Wenger had of making the top four are fading fast with 11 games remaining. Arsenal is in sixth place, six points behind fourth-place Liverpool, which does not play until Sunday.
“We couldn’t afford to lose, that makes it (the top four) much more difficult now,” Wenger said. “It’s a very disappointing result because the priority is to be in the Champions League.”
The upcoming European trips are a sign of the divergent direction these clubs are heading in. Tottenham heads to Italy to play Juventus in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, while Arsenal resumes its Europa League campaign in Sweden at Ostersund on Thursday.
Winning Europe’s second-tier competition could be Arsenal’s only route back into the more lucrative Champions League.
“I’m not a great fan of the Europa League being a qualifier of the Champions League,” Wenger said.
Had it not been for Petr Cech’s saves, the damage could have been far worse for Arsenal at Wembley.
An equalizer rarely looked likely. Jack Wilshere saw a curling effort blocked by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and substitute Alexandre Lacazette slid the ball wide in stoppage time.
Tottenham held on to go nine games unbeaten in the league, although the title is far out of sight with Manchester City the runaway leaders.