It may have taken place in strange and wildly unique circumstances, but Tottenham once again came out on top in the north London derby against Arsenal on Sunday.
The Lilywhites’ 2-1 win over their fierce rivals means they have now extended their run to six unbeaten when facing Arsenal at home.
Coming into the game, the two sides seemed to be headed in opposite trajectories. Arsenal had bounced back from a defeat to Brighton, with some impressive away victories against the likes of Sheffield United and Wolves.
On the other hand, Spurs seemed to be on the slide, with a crushing defeat to the Blades followed up by a dismal 0-0 draw away at Bournemouth.
But as is often the case in derby clashes, the form book went out of the window, and Spurs secured a huge win in the first ever game against Arsenal at the new stadium.
Yet, whilst the so-called bragging rights may have been secured, the game and the result is worth far more than that. Certainly for Spurs boss Jose Mourinho.
The last few weeks have been a difficult period for the Portuguese man, with the team’s style of play raising some big questions – in fact, there was the startling stat after the Bournemouth game, that the north Londoners had had fewer shots on target in the month of July, than West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek.
Had the magic of Mourinho disappeared? Was he just a washed-up manager, whose best times had long since gone?
A defeat to Arsenal would certainly have compounded his misery, but the win, and the manner of their performance – they had more shots, shots on target and tackles than the Gunners – has given Mourinho a platform to build from.
The former Chelsea boss can use the victory as a reference point, and better get the players invested in his project at Spurs. A derby win always gives teams more belief, but what it does for a new manager who has faced some problems, is untold.
With the race for the Europa League hotting up, Spurs’ win over Arsenal was more than just getting one over on their local rivals. It’s given Mourinho some respite, and some confidence, that the Special One still has some left in the tank.