A goalless draw against Chelsea last week did not satisfy Jose Mourinho and his boys. He said, his side was disappointed to only take a point from Stamford Bridge. The Spurs of Mourinho loves to win these days and just a mere point would not be enough – the derby at North London would be their target and last night they were in no mood to drop points.

The Heung-min Son and Harry Kane combination was the architect of the 2-0 win against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, but the way the goals came, reminded many of the Real Madrid unit under Mourinho, which used to be devastating in the counter and buried the opposition in the twinkle of an eye.

Mourinho started off with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but when Arsenal were in possession, his shape changed to 4-4-2: Kane and Lo Celso formed the striking partners while Son and Bergwijn shielded the flanks and Hojbjerg forming the spine at the central midfield. The four midfielders were ready to disturb the rhythm in the middle third and the strikers positioned themselves in the way to cut off the passing lanes between Xhaka and Thomas Partey.

Tottenham Hotspur were sitting deeper and that made the Gunners adventurous.

While the Gunners advanced, the wing-backs: Hector Bellerin and Tierney joined them. Tierney linked-up with Saka, who was proving influential in making Aubameyang a center-forward and Lacazette playing as the false 9. Xhaka dropped down to cover the space on the left and allowed Tierney to express his versatility.

Bergwijn came up to confront Xhaka, which left Aurier in a 2 vs 1 situation. Kane positioned himself out-wider to balance the situation and neutralize the passing lanes of Xhaka. At the back, Son joined to inject more solidity. On the left, he was pressing Bellerin when the Arsenal wing-back was in action with the ball.

Mourinho defended in such a manner, Partey could hardly receive the ball and get going.

Kane and Le Colso pressed the Arsenal pivots and allowed the Spurs pivots to exploit the half-spaces.

Arsenal decided to exploit the flanks with the center of the park being stranglehold.

More crosses were scripted attracting the attackers to pour in the penalty area of the Spurs, but it led to creating spaces behind for which Mourinho was waiting.

In the thirteenth minute, Arsenal lost the possession, and Kane, who throughout this season dropped in between the pivots to received the ball and initiate the counterattack.

When the Spurs’ traditional wingers witnessed the ball at the feet of Kane, they moved wider as quickly as possible to outweigh the Arsenal players.

Kane held the ball up, as Gabriel stepped off him before he turned and played in Son up the inside-left channel.

Son cut inside and unfurled a trademark curler into the far corner like Cristiano Ronaldo – a belter of a goal left Arsenal stunned!

Arsenal pushed themselves up further keeping the back vulnerable.

Aurier intercepted a Bellerin cross that was meant for Aubameyang – it set Lo Celso to progress with four counter-attackers against two Arsenal defenders.

Lo Celso discovered Son and there was an inevitability about what happened after that.

Kane received the ball.

Kane’s overlapping run was well-timed; the finish from a tight angle was lashed in off the underside of the crossbar.

Kane has scored 14 goals and made 12 assists in all competitions this season while for Son it is 13 goals and 6 assists.

But such duos are not formed until and unless the mentor does not make you realize how lethal you could be if you develop that understanding. Mourinho developed the Son and Kane – who was almost written off at the start of this season – understanding of the pair, the instinctiveness of it and how they would operate at such tempo with such ruthlessness.

Whenever one of the players have the ball at their feet, the outcome is evident.

As Mourinho stated after the match, “Harry Kane clearing balls in the box, Sonny for the first 60 minutes as a winger and then a second striker – it is not just about scoring goals and being world class players.”

“It is about being great guys and doing your best for the team.”

It was the latest triumph of José Mourinho’s counterattacking game plan and Kane’s goal meant he became the highest all-time scorer in this derby with 11 – one clear of Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith.

In the second half, Arsenal looked better, but they failed to break the resistance of Spurs who were solid in defending the lead, and the midfield pivot Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had an outstanding game. For Mourinho he is the stabilizer, the wall, or the spine – whatever term you like to use, the man just neutralizes any sort of threats either by dropping in between the center-backs or exploiting the half-spaces while operating as a central midfielder.

Mourinho said, “We were reading the game and making the changes to win it because 2-0 was in our hands against a great and difficult opponent but my boys did well today.”

“I am very happy with the result and the performance, but of course I want the team in the second half to play in a different way. In reality, you don’t always do what you want to do because your opponent forces you in a different direction.”

“You are winning 2-0, why would you expose your defensive block if you don’t have to? It was a very difficult game.”

“We grew up. I can imagine lots of people can imagine three matches in a row – against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal – would be a moment for us to drop points and go back to ‘normality’ but we didn’t go back to ‘normality’.

“I believe one more week at the top of the table unless Liverpool win by many [against Wolves].”

Having won his first North London derby in July, Mourinho joins Jimmy Anderson as the only Spurs boss in history to win both of their first two games against Arsenal, whose manager Arteta is the first Gunners chief since Bertie Mee, in the 1966-67 season, to lose his first two games against Tottenham.


In this season, Mourinho can gift Spurs the glory for which they have been waiting for a long time.

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