Will Kane-Son love story have a romantic ending this season? | Barney Ronay

Will Kane-Son love story have a romantic ending this season? | Barney Ronay

True love will find you in the end. Is there an attacking pair anywhere that takes such obvious pleasure in their own rampant chemistry as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min?

On a chilly night in north London, Tottenham went to the top of the Premier League table with a pared‑back 2-0 defeat of a possession-heavy Arsenal; a victory that raised the tantalising possibility this Spurs team could become the first to play the full 38-game season engaged in an expertly managed relegation battle, only to look up and notice they’ve won the league.

There is, of course, a very long way to go yet. Plus, of course, José Mourinho’s team know exactly what they’re doing, producing once again a balance of defensive patience and high-speed incision.

Like Jürgen Klopp’s high press, Spurs’ defensive shape is a creative weapon too, engineering the perfect attacking conditions for Kane and Son to break. Here they played once again like two men roped together on a mountain, assisting and scoring both first-half goals, one apiece, to make it 11 shared goal combinations so far this season.

The defining moment came in stoppage time in the first half, with a move that contained the entire DNA strand of this match compacted into 20 seconds. Not to mention a perfect consummation of the Kane‑Son partnership.

Arsenal had been on the attack for a while, although as ever these things are relative. Mikel Arteta began this game with his preferred back four, and with a progressive looking frontline.

Still Arsenal mooched sideways for most of the game, probing vaguely. On the left Willian continued to provide a uniquely non-dynamic take on the idea of wing-play, the footballing equivalent of a rook in chess: all straight lines, right angles and reliable up and down.

A diagonal pass from that side was intercepted by Serge Aurier inside his own box. He shuttled the ball to Giovani Lo Celso, who set off at a sprint, seeing the hole left by Thomas Partey’s ill-timed injury.

Lo Celso found Son. He held the ball, sucking the defence towards him while Kane made a run around his back, utterly assured that the nudge into Kane’s path would meet his stride like a needle hitting the groove. Kane spanked the ball down and in off the underside of the bar with thrilling power, the kind of finish that always feels somehow like a humiliation.

Son Heung-min lets fly from long range to score Tottenham’s first goal of their 2-0 victory against Arsenal in the north London derby.

The goal was Spurs’ third shot of the game. The first had produced their first goal with 12 minutes gone. It was the same goal too in essence, the goal Tottenham always score, with slight variations in angles and distance. Kane took the ball, half‑turned and played a fine diagonal pass to Son on the left, who sprinted on into the huge green space in front of him.

From here it was a three‑in‑one goal: a neat exchange; a counterattack; and finally a long‑range net-buster, the ball curving in a hard, flat arc across Bernd Leno into the far corner. Partey and Granit Xhaka had been a little slack to close Kane down. Rob Holding allowed Son to advance. The shot was improbably good. Although, not that improbable. Arteta wants control. He will see a preventable goal.

But then, knowing they’re going to do it is one thing. Stopping them is another. Kane and Son have had five years together now, scoring 263 goals for Spurs between them.

Son cost £22m. Kane came through the youth ranks. As attacking duos go, this has been a seriously high-yield investment, and one that is now entering its imperial phase, with Mourinho’s style geared completely to attack through these two players.

It isn’t hard to understand the brilliance of Son-Kane as a pair. Both are robust and physically relentless. Mainly they’re both supremely clever and adaptable, able to create the game off the cuff at high speed.

What is the link-up here anyway? No 9 and No 10? Left winger and poacher? Free-Running Sprint-Attack Machine and Deep‑Lying Spin-Pass Quarterback?

In fact Kane-Son demonstrates the way players make systems, with both crafting their own sui generis roles in this team. In his more static guise Kane has basically outsourced his running to Son. Son knows Kane has the vision and skill to reward him with those precise diagonal passes.

With Kane and Son’s attacking contribution in the bank, it was left to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Moussa Sissoko to conduct stage two, the rearguard. Both were superbly resilient, filling holes and covering space constantly.

It was enough to kill this game, as it has been so often this season. No plan of attack survives engagement with the enemy, a famous general once said – unless, it seems that plan is Kane passes to Son, Son passes to Kane, Tottenham score.

Someone, somewhere will presumably get hold of this at some stage and devise a defensive scheme to cut that supply line. Not yet though; and not Arteta’s Arsenal.