Who would’ve seen this coming: Tottenham has beaten Arsenal in the North London derby.
Even better for the Spurs, it was Harry Kane – who crew up an Arsenal fan – that did the damage for Tottenham.
The result itself is a huge reversal of course after years of seeing Spurs falter over and over again against the league’s top teams.
Spurs’ win also put to an end the Gunners’ run of 58 games without a loss after leading at the half.
With a find like Kane, it restores faith that Spurs can be a real contender for Europe after selling Gareth Bale two years ago and trying to rebuild through the transfer market. It turns out that the academy product is better than any of Andre Villas-Boas’ signings – with perhaps Christian Eriksen excluded.
Can this team make a run for the top four? That remains to be seen but it is a question worth asking now.
As for the Gunners, while they are getting healthier by the week, it didn’t seem to matter in the derby. Even with Mesut Ozil starting – and scoring – and Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck coming off the bench, it wasn’t enough offence for Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez should be back soon and this team couldn’t use him more.
Again, this adds up to a selection problem for Arsene Wenger, but there’s worse problems to have than having too many good players to choose from.
TITLE RACE TILTING
Chelsea avoided an upset, but Manchester City dropped points. What does it mean? A seven-point lead for the Blues and more questions about whether the title race is over already – again.
Still missing Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea took an early lead against Aston Villa – which all but assured the London side victory. After all, Chelsea has one of the EPL’s top defences and the Villans were coming into the game having not scored in nearly 11 hours of play.
But, defender Jores Okore sprung free and got on the end of a cross to make Villa Park erupt. It’s just a shame that the hosts couldn’t stop Branislav Ivanovic, who scored for the fourth time in the past five games against Villa.
In fact, you could call the Villans’ top villain.
As for the defending champs, City needed an injury time stunner from James Milner to salvage a draw against Hull City.
If you haven’t seen the highlight-reel free kick yet, it’s the type that will be replayed for weeks, bending around the wall with power rarely seen on such finesse attempts.
Hull’s goal will be on highlight reels for the opposite reason: It was a comedy of City errors that led to David Meyler’s score.
Really, it was the type of goal that City has allowed in the past and the type that makes you question how such an undisciplined team can be as talented as it is.
As long as the Citizens make these mental mistakes, they have no chance of catching Chelsea.
At least with Yaya Toure returning shortly after winning the African Cup of Nations, City can breathe a bit easier. With their midfield stud gone for the past month, City is 0-5-1 in all competitions, showing how important he is to his team.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Manchester United was able to rescue a point at West Ham after a little bit of blind luck. If not for a West Ham clearance falling right to Daley Blind for the Dutchman to hammer it home in injury time, United would have come home empty-handed. And honestly, the Red Devils didn’t play well enough to deserve the point either … Credit should go to the Hammers’ Adrian for making a few clutch saves … Sadio Mane, back from the African Cup of Nations, was the hero for Southampton, scoring in injury time to give the Saints three points against QPR. It looked like the R’s would pick up a point in their first game without Harry Redknapp in charge, but fate had other plans apparently … QPR got lucky that top striker Charlie Austin didn’t suffer a broken foot and will be out just 1-2 weeks instead of much longer … For all the grief he got at Newcastle, we’re being reminded now that Alan Pardew isn’t that bad of a manager. His Crystal Palace Eagles are flying with another win under him … Leicester looks straight up doomed. It’s funny how a team that dominated League Championship can be so bad in the top flight … Another promoted team, Burnley, continues to struggle. The Clarets failed to hold on to a lead at Turf Moor, dropping points to West Brom. But hey, at least they got back on the scoresheet.
THE LAST WORD
Not all Merseyside Derbys are created equal, apparently.
A year ago when Liverpool hopped the bus to Goodison Park, we got a thrilling 3-3 draw.
This year, we got a stale draw of the 0-0 variety.
From the start it looked like Brendan Rodgers wasn’t even taking this one too seriously. He started a somewhat experimental lineup, with youngster Jordan Ibe getting his second career start – it turned out to be a good move.
Ibe had the two best chances of the game, hitting the post with a stunning shot and almost getting on the end of a deflected shot before Joel Robles smothered it.
The game only got a little bit interesting after Muhamed Besic and Ibe tangled, leading to some cards being brandished.
That fired up the hosts and the home fans, leading to some pressing play up top.
But, it didn’t lead to anything and, with Besic taken off minutes later, the rally was quelled.
The biggest question of the match was why Roberto Martinez kept Ross Barkley on the bench for so long. The Toffees’ starlet wasn’t brought on until the 85th minute, far too late to make much of an impact.
The whole thing was hardly fit to be the last Merseyside clash for Steven Gerrard, but at least we’re sure that he has plenty of old memories from this rival to take with him to Los Angeles.