Tottenham Hotspur 2 Arsenal 1
( Kane 56, 86, Özil 11 )

Arsenal suffered their first defeat since the New Year’s Day loss at Southampton as a Harry Kane inspired Tottenham Hotspur inflicted a 2-1 loss on Arsene Wenger’s men. Having taken the lead in the 175th north London derby through Mesut Özil, the Gunners failed to capitalise on subsequent chances falling to Laurent Koscielnt, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud and were punished by Kane’s double. Arsenal switched off at key moments in defence and that was all that Kane would need to firstly level and then head the winner four minutes from time. Following the loss, Per Mertersacker felt that Arsenal weren’t quick enough to adapt the to nature of the game.

“We’re not satisfied with that result, we weren’t active enough. Just at the end we started to play our game, but it took us too long. We didn’t defend badly but we couldn’t take advantage of any counter-attacks,” said Mertersacker.

Despite making a succession of fine saves, David Ospina was beaten for the first time since he took over as Wenger’s preferred starting ‘keeper and Mertersacker explained that Arsenal who were unable to select Alexis Sanchez, deemed as still recovering from his hamstring injury, just couldn’t get going when the chances presented themselves.

“It was very difficult for us, so we’re very disappointed that we couldn’t find our way to play. I think we reacted all the time. When you defend, you react sometimes. When we had the ball, we couldn’t find solutions.

“They were always at us – and we couldn’t get the ball so quickly in our half. We couldn’t make sure that we get good counter-attacks and good breaks to help.

“We’re very disappointed with a lot of ball losses, especially in our half. They lost the ball and we won it but then couldn’t find a solution to get out of the situations.”

Wenger elected to start with Welbeck who returned after a six game injury enforced absence, with Theo Walcott starting on the bench. However the Gunners’ ploy of sitting back and inviting Spurs at them ( one which worked well at the Etihad stadium in the win over Manchester City ) was not to be so rewarding at White Hart Lane.

” It’s very disappointing because we started very well and then thought too much about defending, and not enough enough about playing,” accepted Wenger.

“I felt we made too many technical mistakes in the middle of the park, and lost balls that are very unusual for us. On top of that, we gave two cheap goals away and that explains the defeat.

“The corners on the deflection, we could have the ball and then on the second post we leave them completely free. On the second goal, I felt that we left them completely free to cross the ball and then had nobody in position.

“Before that, we could have won the ball in the middle of the park and if we had won it, we could have gone through. But we didn’t really go for the ball and after that, Kane had a completely free header in the box.

“With five minutes to go, that’s difficult to understand with the experience we have at the back. I’m disappointed by the quality of our football and it was just not good enough.”

The loss will be a blow in the Gunners’ Champions League ambitions for next season, but given the experience his side have in finishing in the the Premier League top four, the Arsenal manage reflected that this result should be viewed in that greater context. Wenger will be pleased that Arsenal will have a quick opportunity to show a reaction to Saturday’s loss, when Leicester City arrive at the Emirates stadium on Tuesday.