Mikel Arteta slammed referee Paul Tierney after Tottenham defeated 10-man Arsenal 3-0 on Thursday to keep their Premier League title chances alive. If Antonio Conte’s team had lost to their bitter north London rivals, they would have been eliminated from the Champions League qualifying battle.
However, Tottenham attacker Harry Kane troubled Arsenal again, scoring with a contentious penalty.
Arsenal’s Rob Holding was sent out after two cautions in seven minutes, crucial.
Before the break, Kane scored again, and Son Heung-min scored Tottenham’s third goal in the second half.
Arsenal now faces a tense finish to the top-four race instead of securing a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign.
Arsenal still has a slim lead, but their four-match winning streak has ended, leaving them only one point clear of fifth-placed Tottenham with two games remaining.
The penalty and the red card enraged Arsenal manager Arteta, who said: “I’ll be banned for six months if I speak what I believe. Don’t know how to lie, so I avoid saying what I think.
“I am unable to express my viewpoint. I believe you can readily interpret my body language. My players do not make me miserable. My players make me proud.
“I want the referees to explain their choices in front of the camera. It’s a pity that such a lovely game was ruined today.”
In November, when Conte took over from Nuno Espirito Santo, he stated it would be a “miracle” if Tottenham entered the Champions League, considering their terrible position.
But their triumph is perhaps the essential north London derby since Arsenal’s league-winning victory at White Hart Lane in 2004 meant that miracle might still happen.
Tottenham will host Burnley on Sunday before travelling to relegated Norwich on Monday, while Arteta’s side will go to Newcastle and play Everton.
Conte urged his team to keep the momentum against Burnley after orchestrating Tottenham’s most significant league victory against Arsenal since 1983.
“We won a crucial derby and are now close to them in the standings. Indeed, we must recuperate quickly since we will play on Sunday against a squad that has already defeated us, “he remarked.
“I told my players to relax and rejoice correctly, but to also focus towards Sunday because else, this victory would be meaningless.”
Kane is a star
Tottenham had residual animosity after Arsenal’s successful petition to have this match postponed in January owing to Covid and injury difficulties and the large European implications for both clubs.
In the loud atmosphere at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the resentment quickly boiled over.
Tottenham struck first amid the chaos after 22 minutes.
As they challenged Dejan Kulusevski’s cross in the six-yard box, Cedric Soares clashed with Son, and the touch was enough for Tierney to give a penalty.
Furious Arsenal fans surrounded Tierney, but Kane stepped up to send Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way with a calm spot-kick.
Arsenal was stunned, and in the 33rd minute, the game changed significantly in Tottenham’s favour.
Holding brutally impeded Son’s path with his shoulder after Eric Dier’s long ball targeted him, an extreme action that forced Tierney to dismiss the defender for his second card.
Spurs extended their advantage four minutes after Holding’s early departure, smelling blood.
Conte celebrated with a dance of ecstasy after Rodrigo Bentancur flicked up a corner and Kane stooped to head home from nearly on the line.
Kane, the all-time leading scorer in the north London derby, now has 13 goals in 17 encounters with Arsenal, who must remember the day they turned him down as an eight-year-old.
Conte’s night got even better when Kane rolled Gabriel, and the ball broke for Son to clip a neat finish into the corner in the 47th minute.