Kane is King of the Lane

As a pulsating and compelling north London derby reached its final furlong, with 85 minutes on the clock, Nabil Bentaleb swung in a hopeful cross.

In reality, it should have been dealt with better. Neither Laurent Koscielny nor Per Mertesacker claimed it for their own.

One man did, however. He is, of course, the man of the moment. He had dominated the pre-derby talk, no-one now able to avoid his obvious qualities. And yet, once the match started he had been initially peripheral.

Still, there is no keeping down Harry Kane at present. Certainly not when that Bentaleb cross came arcing through the air. He rose with timing, grace and power and to meet the ball with his head and direct it home to a cacophony of noise at White Hart Lane.

The old ground isn’t often as excited or vociferous as this. To beat the team from down the Seven Sisters Road and to go above Arsenal in the table in the race for fourth is one thing; to do so, as they have coined it, with ‘one of their own’ made this a famous derby victory.

For Kane, with both goals yesterday and now 22 for the season, is something of a phenomenon this season. We keep waiting for his rise to reach a plateau. Kane seems gloriously unaware of this fact. He simply keeps scoring. Poachers’ goals, headed goals, penalty goals and long range efforts. As he left the pitch the ground serenaded him with that song: ‘He’s one of our own.’ The way he is progressing, soon the nation might claim the same.

The fairy-tale script however was some time in the planning. Initially it appeared as though the old, new Arsenal – doggedly defensive and willing to hit teams on the counter – might prevail. After all, they had opened the scoring on 12 minutes, with what proved to be their only shot of the half.

Welbeck was superb, simply tearing past Danny Rose, leaving the Tottenham left back looking traumatised. He then found Giroud, who opened his body up to shoot but skewed his strike to Ozil.

The German did in fact have a big toe offside but with the referees oblivious he simply executed the kind of deft which to him is second nature and Arsenal were ahead.

How Tottenham bristled at that injustice. They poured forward, penning Arsenal back in their half. Danny Rose went close on 14 minutes. Erik Lamela, frenetic in his pressing, won the ball back on 21 minutes to set up Nabil Bentaleb, who shot just wide.

Lamela did the same on 30 minutes, this time finding Ryan Mason whose strike from distance brought a diving save form David Ospina. Inbetween those chances, Rose struck a shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

Arsenal were on the defensive, but curiously, they weren’t creaking. It was noticeable that the majority of Tottenham’s chances were from distance. Koscielny added an air of authority to the Arsenal defence while Franics Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey were busily and happily doing the dirty work of protecting their back line.

Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal both looked vulnerable on the flanks – but equally were afforded less protection that they might have desired from Welbeck and Ozil. But as Tottenham flew forward, Arsenal remained resolute. They looked an altogether more solid and better side than their previous incarnations.

That said, there is always an obvious risk in inviting teams on to you and Arsenal are not yet masters of the art. Their solidity was already beginning to wane somewhat when they defended a 56th minute corner, Moussa Dembele flicked it on, Ospina punched it away but only to the feet of Harry Kane who was lurking at the far post.

Kane had made little impact until then but he was not to be denied his moment. Having eluded his marker, he struck decisively from close range and White Hart Lane roared once more.

The stadium’s intensity reached a zenith three minutes later when Kane looked to be inches away from making it 2-1. As it turned out, he was offside and he stretched to turn in the rebound off an Ospina save. But the majority at White Hart Lane weren’t to know that.

The stadium was as vociferous as it can be and Arsenal begun to look beleaguered. They responded with a lovely curling Danny Welbeck strike which Lloris did well to tip away. Koscielny might have scored from the resulting corner, given that he was granted a free header.

Ospina was called back into action to make a fine save from Bentaleb on 64 minutes but it seemed as if honours would be shared. We had reckoned without the intervention of that man Kane. His plot lines grow increasingly implausible. Sooner or later, we will have to start believing in him.