Tottenham manager Antonio Conte proved his invisibility at the Spurs, once more, with a resounding win at home against Arsenal.
For months we’d wonder why this steel-eyed serial-winner had landed up at Spursy old Spurs – and Conte often wondered it aloud himself.
But as the Tottenham Stadium throbbed with menace, and Arsenal’s youths fell into naivety and ill-discipline, Conte must have felt properly at home.
This thumping Tottenham victory, aided and abetted by Rob Holding’s early red card, means the fight for Champions League football between these two bitter rivals seems certain to go to the wire.
Harry Kane, the all-time record scorer in this fixture with 13 goals against the Arsenal, struck either side of Holding’s dismissal as Son Heung-Min stepped up his pursuit of the Golden Boot with his 21st of the season after the interval.
Unlike most modern stadiums, the new Lane does not lack for atmosphere. Here, for its first North London Derby with a full house, it rattled and hummed as an intimidated Arsenal were blown away.
Now Arsenal must win their last two games, at Newcastle on Monday and at home to Everton the following Sunday, to ensure an end to their five-year Champions League exile.
Because Conte’s Spurs are only a point behind, with just Burnley and Norwich to play.
And this week, in the defiant draw at Liverpool and this ruthless dismemberment of their neighbours, it really has started to feel like Conte’s Spurs.
They have been comprehensively whipped into shape. They compete with a crazed determination and they possess a street-fighting wisdom too.
Holding thoroughly deserved to be sent off for a series of fouls on Son but the Korean was wily in making the most of them too.
And with the Lane in full throat, the manic energy Conte possesses felt like part of some vast electrical circuit. Arsenal were not so much beaten as wired up and fried.
The Arsenal hierarchy have shown uncommon faith in Mikel Arteta and his rebuilding project.
The Spaniard’s new contract, extended until 2025, felt potentially premature when it was announced last week – and it will be debated more vehemently if the Gunners slip up and miss out on the top four.
Spurs had actually suffered a setback when Cristian Romero – an old-school centre-half cut out for a derby – was ruled out with a hip injury. It didn’t matter.
The Spurs faithful were belting out songs of fear and loathing – most of them about Sol Campbell, and unprintable.
And when it got going – four months late, after Arsenal’s dodgy sicknote earned them a postponement in January – there was niggle and spite all round.
Gabriel and Dejan Kulusevski had the first ruck, then Holding got stuck into Son, kicking the prone Korean in the back, with the two men going at it handbags and tongs soon after.
Bukayo Saka executed a fine shoulder-barge to win the ball from Ben Davies, who was booked for tripping the England man – with Conte yellow-carded for aiming a fusillade of abuse at ref Paul Tierney.
Every successful Spurs tackle was being roared like a goal.
These fans had felt the sting of humiliation when Arsenal thrashed them at the Emirates in the autumn and they were determined to avoid a repeat. Conte’s men did not disappoint them.
And with far more aggro than football until that point, there was little surprise when the opener arrived from the penalty spot.
It was, however, pretty much the softest challenge of the night which saw Cedric Soares penalized for a barge on Son, as they contested a deep cross from Kulusevski.
Kane put Spurs in total control just moments later with a diving header.
Kane sent Ramsdale the wrong way from the spot, then Holding was promptly booked for living up to his surname and impeding Son.
Six minutes later, it was game over for Holding.
Preferred to Ben White in Arteta’s starting line-up, it looked as if the Arsenal defender had been sent out to perform a hatchet job on Son, whom he had been targeting from the off.
The trouble is, you don’t get four or five lives before a yellow card these days.
They are called cautions for a reason but nobody appeared to have told Holding.
When Eric Dier launched the ball forward, Holding gave Son a sly dig with his elbow and Tierney showed him an obvious second yellow.
Indeed, he might have booked the Englishman four times and we were only 33 minutes in.
Soon after, Spurs were home and hosed when Kane nabbed a classic poacher’s second.
A Son corner was headed goalwards by Rodrigo Bentancur and Kane made a cunning dart for the far post where he stooped to nudge it over the line.
Hugo Lloris was finally called into action when he tipped an Eddie Nketiah chip over the bar.
But straight after the restart, Son rammed into the bottom corner after Kane had held off Gabriel. The Korean now stands just one goal behind Mo Salah.
Arsenal face tough final games against Newcastle and Everton.
Arsenal know Spurs have kinder fixtures against Burnley and relegated Norwich
The Arsenal fans were sneaking off early for a good cry on the train, the Spurs supporters crowing like the bloody great cockerel that overlooks this modern-day bearpit.
—Photo Credit: Reuters/The Sun/EPA