It's no exaggeration to say that 45 minutes minutes into Saturday's North London Derby, a Tottenham Hotspur win at Arsenal was unfathomable. Not only were Spurs working against history, they were down 2-0, having been dominated in the first period. Having never won at Arsenal in the Premier League era, there was little reason beyond sporting chance to believe Spurs would come back.
Five minutes into the second half, a goal from Gareth Bale gave Spurs hope. Still, it seemed aberrational, and when Cesc Fabregas foolishly handled a direct kick in the box 16 minutes later, there was a surreal feel to Rafael van der Vaart pulling Spurs even. There was less of a "they can win this" air than "what's going on here."
That was the same reaction when Spurs went ahead, with Younes Kaboul converting a set piece in the 86th minute, giving Spurs their first ever win at the Emirates. At that point, Arsenal looked dead in the water, the camera catching their players, foreheads facing the field, turning to walk away from the winner they'd just allowed. There was no question, Arsenal was done. But had Spurs really won?
Even now, it seems surreal. I don't think we know how to react to Spurs winning this derby in this way. Had they come out and beat Arsenal like they did at White Hart Lane in April, we would have had 90 minutes of viewing to acclimate us to Spurs' superiority. Today's match, however, never afforded us that chance.
By the end of today's matches, we may have a grasp on the idea that Spurs have finally broken through on the road against the Big Four.