The Warmdown: Spurs better 10-man Arsenal in NLD
Rob Holding of Arsenal is shown a 2nd yellow card for a challenge on Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte's Tottenham side came out on top as they hosted Arsenal in the Premier league last night. Two goals from Harry Kane, including his ubiquitous NLD penalty, and another from Son Heung-Min saw Spurs ease past their North London rivals in a huge game in the context of Champions League qualification. 

  • From bad to worse

It was never going to be a simple game for either side, but the Gunners made it far too easy for the hosts, with the inexperience for Mikel Arteta's squad coming to the fore.

With the first fifteen minutes looking relatively balanced, if not a bit cagey, it didn't take long for things to start to unravel for the visitors. A teasing ball towards the back post from Dejan Kulusevski saw Cedric collide (I use that word loosely) with Son inside the box - Paul Tierney pointed to the spot without hesitation. 

So its Harry Kane, in a North London Derby, from the penalty spot - was there ever any doubt? Of course not, 1-0. 

Conceding early in a derby completely shifts the complexion of the game, the Gunners needed composure and resilience at this stage.

Enter Rob Holding - Mr. Reliable, the experienced, cool-headed third choice centre-back on whom we have relied in tough moments like this, seemingly entered the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with all the composure of a 17-year-old academy debutant. 

While Holding was rash and somewhat reckless, this is what the biggest games can do to a player, huge pressure and over-arousal can easily push a player over the edge, leading to them make mistakes, just like the English centre-half did. 

Two bookings in quick succession saw the 26-year old dismissed with just 32 minutes on the clock, leaving Arsenal with a huge uphill task for the remainder of the tie.

Spurs quickly capitalised on their man advantage, as a corner was flicked towards the back post, for Kane to head his second goal past a flailing Aaron Ramsdale.

(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
  • Re-group and crumble

Half-time couldn't come soon enough for Arteta's side, who looked shaken by the time the whistle blew for the break. With a chance to regroup and for the manager to pass on some words of advice, the Gunners head out for the second half. 

Any dreams of a 10-man turnaround were put immediately to bed by Son almost as soon as the second period had started. The Japanese winger latched on to a loose ball after a solid piece of play from Kane, stroking it past the goalkeeper and giving his side a three goal advantage. 

Though the scoreline may suggest total domination, the game wasn't without a fair share of Arsenal chances, with both Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka both going close in the second half. 

But the game was beyond the visitors by this point, and it almost became a case of damage limitation for Arteta's men. The game finished 3-0 - a tough one to take for Arsenal fans, with so much on the line at this late stage. 

  • Everything on the line

To any non-football fan, the idea of fourth place meaning so much may not make much sense, but to both North London clubs, it is everything and more at the moment. 

Qualification for the Champions League carries so many benefits - playing in Europe's premier competition can attract the biggest names in world football to your club, not to mention the financial rewards for making it into competition. 

While Tottenham will hold the bragging rights for this particular fixture for the next few months, it will all mean nothing should the Gunners hold strong until the end of the season. 

(Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
(Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
  • Moving on...

Though Spurs now carry the momentum in this nail-biting race for the top four, Arsenal's fate still lies firmly in their own hands, with two must-win games just around the corner.

Despite last night's result, Arteta's side still remain one point ahead of their rivals with two games left to play. Arsenal now face a trip to the northeast to play an in-form Newcastle United side, who are thriving under new management.

The final game for the Gunners is against Everton, who have not had an impressive season by any stretch of the imagination, as they fight for their lives at the lower end of the table. Facing a team battling for survival is never easy, and they may well still be in a similar situation come next Sunday, so The Arsenal will have to be ready for a tightly-fought contest. 

Spurs' final games are against two sides towards the bottom of the table - Burnley at home and then a trip to already-relegated Norwich City.

On paper, both sides will be looking to pick up maximum points from both of their games, but we already know that isn't how it works in English football. Going down to the final day, whatever happens, my word it's been a ride hasn't it? 

VAVEL Logo