Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger put North London rivalries aside as he accepted Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is the most in-form striker in Europe on Thursday.
Kane, 24, became the second fastest player to ever reach 100 Premier League goals by netting his 31st of the season in just 32 games to salvage a point for Spurs from a thrilling 2-2 draw at Liverpool last weekend.
“If you look at the numbers, no, because he has high numbers,” Wenger said when asked if there was a better striker in Europe at the moment than Kane.
The England international spoke this week of how being released from Arsenal’s academy as an eight-year-old left him with a “chip on his shoulder”.
Kane has more than taken revenge with a fine record against Arsenal, scoring six goals in seven North London derbies.
Wenger broke Arsenal’s transfer record last week to add more firepower to the Gunners quest to beat Tottenham to a top-four finish by splashing out £56 million ($78 million) on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
And the Frenchman is hoping his new front line of Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan — who shone in a 5-1 thrashing of Everton in their fist outing together — can outgun Kane when the sides meet on Saturday.
“I believe what you want in a game like that is to keep him quiet and for our strikers to express their talent.”
More than local bragging rights are on offer with Arsenal trailing fifth-placed Spurs by four points in the race for a return to the Champions League place with just 12 Premier League games of the season remaining.
“It’s a big game because we are behind in the table and we have to catch up,” added Wenger.
“It is more important for us to come back mathematically than it is emotionally-charged.”
Following their controversial draw at Anfield that saw Spurs win two late penalties and Dele Alli booked for diving, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino defended his players by criticising the fixation with diving in English football.
Yet Wenger, who also spoke out against Manchester City’s England international Raheem Sterling earlier this season, believes it is English players who have become the “masters” of diving.
“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”