5 March 2016. It was a typical grey, windy and cold north London day. Tottenham Hotspur hosted rivals Arsenal in the Premier League’s Saturday early kick-off.
A win would have sent Spurs top of the table, if only for a few hours. This was the only day they could have done so their 2015/16 and 2016/17 title-challenging seasons. This is the one that got away.
By February 2016, Tottenham had become the bookmakers’ favourite to win the Premier League. There were still question marks over Leicester City’s credentials having battled relegation only a year earlier, while Spurs were at least an established big-six club.
If they could see off Arsenal, whose form had nosedived since Christmas, then they would be the widespread favourites for sure, proven to have enough even to spite Leicester’s fairytale.
White Hart Lane was a particularly tetchy place that day. It wasn’t often Tottenham fans found themselves in a title fight – the first time since the 1960s, in fact. The Arsenal fans who had made the short journey were in fine voice and a little calmer, the pressure firmly on their hosts instead.
That energy transferred to the players. Spurs started within themselves, the Gunners more relaxed. Aaron Ramsey always loved a goal against Tottenham and added to his collection with a fine opener just before the break.
Tottenham’s hopes were fading, but they managed to lure Arsenal into a frenzied game. Francis Coquelin was sent off for the visitors just before the hour mark and Toby Alderweireld scrambled a goal in from a corner shortly after.
The belief was back. And before Spurs supporters could even pace themselves again, they all went rabid and feral.
Dele Alli rescued possession from towards the corner flag, playing Harry Kane in with a clever back-heeled flick. Kane, clad in a mask from a facial injury sustained a few weeks earlier, had a quick glance up towards goal. He was several yards out and wide of the penalty area, but that didn’t stop him pulling the trigger.
Kane’s piledriver flew past helpless goalkeeper David Ospina, clattered off the inside of the post and nestled in. White Hart Lane didn’t cheer or scream or cry or shout – it did them all simultaneously, creating the most unique fan-made noise the stadium had ever witnessed.