Tottenham edged past Arsenal in a tight north London derby to take firm control in the race for a Champions League qualification spot.

Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon put Tottenham in the driving seat, and Andre Villas-Boas’s side were 2-0 up at half time.

But a Per Mertesacker header took a deflection off Bale shortly after the break to half the deficit. The goal may go down as a Bale own-goal, but the Welshman was the star man once again as Spurs held on for all three points.

He sprung the offside trap to put Spurs ahead after 37 minutes - converting a superb Gylfi Sigurdsson through-ball. Arsenal had been impressive up to that point – closing the ball down with clear purpose to get amongst the Spurs players.

But they were two-down just 90 seconds later, when Arsenal’s high line was once again breached, this time by Aaron Lennon.

The England international stole past Nacho Monreal, and rounded Wojciech Szczesny to put Spurs on course for the win.

Mertesacker struck back on 51 minutes, but Tottenham held on for a precious three points. The win moves them seven clear of their north London rivals, and up into third place in the Premier League table. Two points behind Manchester City, they can now cast their eye up, rather than worry about what’s below.

As for Arsenal, they face a real battle to salvage a top four spot. This defeat leaves them five points off Chelsea with ten games to go.


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