There were numerous interesting narratives to consider on Sunday, as North London's two top-flight football clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, faced off against one another for the North London Derby 2015. On one hand, a victory would have allowed the Gunners to push into first place on the Premier League table. Manchester City had settled for a surprising draw against the bottom-ranked Aston Villa just a few hours earlier, leaving the top slot there for Arsenal's taking.
On the other hand, Tottenham Hotspur have finally seemed to find their footing in recent weeks. A win in this North London Derby could have been a fitting affirmation of that fact. The Spurs spent the first month of the 2015 2016 Premier League toiling in the bottom half of the table, largely due to mediocre performances on the part of Harry Kane.
The Return of Harry Kane
Kane, of course, was the number two goalscorer of the 2014 2015 Premier League, netting 21 goals to Sergio Aguero's 26. Across all competitions, his tally increased to 31. (Aguero, across all competitions, only scored 32 goals.) This season, though, Kane didn't score a single goal until the seventh week of Premier League play.
On October 25th, though, we witnessed the return of Harry Kane. The young striker scored a hat trick, paving the way for a 5-1 EPL win against AFC Bournemouth. He scored again in Tottenham's November 2nd 3-1 win against Aston Villa, and once more in their November 5th Europa League win against Anderlecht.
Kane also opened the scoring in Sunday's match against Arsenal, converting an assist from Danny Rose into a 1-0 lead at the 32-minute mark. The goal gave the Spurs a relatively early advantage in the North London Derby, despite the fact that Arsenal held the home field advantage in the match.
Other than playing on the pitch at their own Emirates Stadium, though, Arsenal didn't have many advantages in Sunday's match. The Gunners have a very long injury list right now, and Sunday's match saw some of the soccer squad's greatest assets sidelined. Indeed, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, and Hector Bellerin were all on the disabled list for the match, leaving Arsenal somewhat shorthanded against a Tottenham team that has just hit its stride.
Still, Arsenal managed to hold their own in spite of the long list of missing starters. Defender Kieran Gibbs saved the game for the Gunners, coming on as a 74-minute substitute and scoring an equalizer just three minutes later. Gibbs has been signed with Arsenal since 2007, but this was only his second Premier League goal ever for the football club. As many soccer pundits have noted, Gibbs' scoring masterstroke could hardly have come at a better time.
The Table StandingsÂ
With a stronger soccer squad, Arsenal probably would have found a win on Sunday. Even slightly hobbled, Arsene Wenger's side led the game in possession and nearly scored a second goal in the closing minutes of the match, thanks to Olivier Giroud. But the Spurs held strong and forced a 1-1 draw, earning both clubs one point on the Premier League standings table.
For Arsenal, that means another two weeks at least waiting to ascend to the top of the Premier League table. (EPL play won't resume until November 21st, thanks to this coming weekend's Euro 2016 qualifiers.) The Gunners have the same point total (26) as Manchester City but are five points behind in goal difference (+13, to Man City's +17).
For Tottenham Hotspur, the North London Derby game was still a triumph. One point was all the football club needed to push into the top five, scooting past West Ham United and just three points behind Manchester United. Given how slow the season started out for the Spurs (and Harry Kane in particular), the fifth-place slot is a major achievement for the team.
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