One of the worst feelings in football is having to rely on another team doing you a favour in a game you’re not involved in. That’s exactly what we need from Newcastle this weekend as our nervous battle for a Champions League place reaches its conclusion. Tottenham have what is arguably the easier fixture on paper as they face Sunderland at White Hart Lane, while bitter rivals Arsenal travel to the Sports Direct Arena to take on Newcastle. Should both London sides manage to secure three points in their respective games, it will be Arsenal and not Tottenham competing in the 2013/14 Champions League.
The bookmakers have Spurs as the strong 3/10 favourites for their match against Sunderland. Arsenal are put in at a best price of 4/7. If you’re having a bet this weekend, you can check out available odds at Topbet.eu. Everything points to both of the Champions League hopefuls getting the job done against their Northern opponents, with both Sunderland and Newcastle having nothing to play for after they managed to avoid the dreaded relegation zone. Arsenal are long odds on favourites to take this season’s final Champions League spot and only the brave will be backing Spurs as things stand.
Following the unfair way in which Tottenham Hotspur missed out on Europe’s elite competition last season, it would be awful for Andre Villas-Boas side if they one against end up in the Europa League. The financial implications are one thing, Gareth Bale moving on is another and possibly most important of all, Spurs qualifying would mean Arsenal do not! In a way, Tottenham only have themselves to blame. A top four finish looked to be in the bag following the excellent 2-1 victory over the Gunners back in March, but poor results since, particularly at home, mean that Arsenal fans are more the more likely to be bragging come Sunday evening. I’ll live in hope until just before 6pm that day, but confident I am not.
The ten point advantage Tottenham currently have over Arsenal in the Premier League would have been unthinkable just a couple of seasons ago. Although Arsenal fans were calling for Arsene Wenger’s head after a bad start to the season, things seemed to have settled down on that front with the good run of form they put together following the 2-1 defeat the Gunners suffered at White Hart Lane. Now reality has finally set in, Wenger’s management skills are once again being called into question by their supporters.
In stark contrast, Harry Redknapp’s reputation continues to thrive not only among Spurs fans, but also football enthusiasts around the globe. Bringing Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor to the club this season only added to what was already an excellent squad of players. Not only have Harry’s player purchases been very astute, he has also helped Gareth Bale become one of the best footballers in the world. He is able to instil a belief in players that Wenger cannot. Another great example of this is Benoit Assou-Ekotto. He was going nowhere fast at Tottenham but Redknapp spotted his potential and gave the former Lens man a chance. Ekotto is now one of the very best left backs the Premier League has to offer.
While the 5-1 cup victory in 2008 was a sign of things to come, the day when the power really shifted in North London was 20th November 2010. Spurs had not won at Arsenal for 17 years. Going 2-0 down before half time would have seen Tottenham sides of old throw the towel in, but this set of players were not prepared to lie down. Winning the game in such a manner gave Spurs a new found confidence and helped enforce the never say die attitude that has seen us become serious title contenders this season.
There are a couple of games during this campaign that really illustrate the difference between the two teams perfectly. Both were defeats, our 2-1 reverse away to Stoke, and Arsenal’s 3-2 loss at Swansea. Admittedly, the game at the Liberty Stadium was very entertaining and all credit to Swansea for playing some great football, but a number of the Arsenal players on that pitch looked like they did not want to be there. It ultimately ended with the man Arsenal fans were hailing as the King a few days earlier, a 34 year old Thierry Henry, turning on them for venting their frustrations.
At Stoke, Spurs were not at their best in the first half. Any team two goals behind at the Britannia Stadium would probably have resigned themselves to defeat. In the end, it was only one of the worst refereeing performances in Premier League history that cost us all three points. Every Spurs player gave their all in that second half to try and get something from the game and even though we lost the match, it is possibly my favourite Tottenham performance of the season. It goes a long way to showing why Tottenham are now the dominant team in North London and why you’d better mind that gap.
He is talented but hugely unlikeable and not just because of his stint at Arsenal. I couldn’t understand a word that came out his mouth during the World Cup when he was helping diversify the BBC’s panel of pundits. He puts in 110% for a few games a season but is largely lazy. I think that pretty much sums up Emmanuel Adebayor. While I might sound a bit negative about the current Manchester City misfit, I would also say that on his day, Adebayor is still capable of being one of the best strikers in the Premier League.
Early in Adebayor’s Manchester City career, he faced former club Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium. It was a game in which he was later to receive a ban for violent conduct and he also chose to run the length of the pitch to provoke the travelling Arsenal fans. That wasn’t what stuck in my mind about that match however. What did stay with me was the way Adebayor played. He was quite simply breathtaking at times and while the majority of Arsenal fans were happy to see the back of the Togolese attacker because of his questionable attitude, they were probably also left wondering who in their squad could produce such a meaningful performance.
It doesn’t look like Real Madrid want to retain Adebayor’s services and he has rejected talk of moves to Blackburn and PSG in recent days. Could he be the man to solve our striker issues or would he just create more of them? City are unlikely to want to sell to Tottenham but it could be a possibility if the price is right. Also, Harry isn’t scared to take ex Arsenal players to the Lane if he thinks they are good enough as was the case with William Gallas.
Personally, Emmanuel Adebayor wouldn’t be a player I’d consider for anything like the £25m valuation that is being banded about but if we could bring him in at a cut price, I think he is possibly worth taking a punt on. Without the lure of Champions League football, the world class players that we can attract are all likely to come with some baggage.
St Tottering Day is a popular event for the Arsenal fans. It’s a day they celebrate when it becomes mathematically impossible for Tottenham to finish above them in the league.
I watched Chelsea take Arsenal apart yesterday and was seriously shocked to see the once mighty Gunners destroyed at the Emirates. They claimed they were unlucky against Man Utd last week but I think yesterday’s result well and truly confirmed that Arsenal are well and truly finished. Any team that ships seven goals at home in two games are in serious trouble. Spurs let in a grand total of zero against the same sides at the Lane this year.
Wenger took them to great heights but is no taking them downhill at an alarming rate through his stubbornness and outdated methods. When Harry Redknapp was going to play Hossam Ghaly and the fans reacted badly he took their opinions on board. If Wenger was in the same position, he would definitely not have reacted the same way. It’s that part of his personality that is making Arsenal a laughing stock.
It looks to me like he’s losing the dressing room. Robin Van Persie, a player who I thought would be key for them this season has now caught the famous Arsenal sulk and strut. It causes players to put in ten to fifteen percent effort each game and strut around the football pitch like they are a peacock. Former victims include Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor.
To celebrate this momentous occasion I think we should have our own day. The 10th May will now be known as St Arseing Day. On this special date each year we can rejoice safe in the knowledge there will forever be that unfortunate big blank space next to Arsenal’s previous achievements displayed round the Emirates Stadium.
It’s certainly a tough day for fans of the Arse. The number of them calling for Wenger’s head all over the internet is quite astounding. Panic surrounding the futures of Fabregas, Adebayor and Van Persie is rife and it has turned into yet another trophy-less season for a club that expects a lot more.
Wenger’s methods are possibly outdated in today’s Premiership. Maybe his brand of football and obsession with young boys just doesn’t work anymore. Patrice Evra put it best, claiming last night’s match was “It was 11 men against 11 babies.”
I hold my hands up, the gap between Arsenal and Spurs over the last decade or so has been very hard for us Spurs fans to take but it does appear to be gradually being eroding. With some stability where we are concerned in the summer and with the likely unrest at the Emirates, it could be the season we pose a serious threat to their dominance as the premier north London side and hopefully edge them out of the illusive top 4 like we should have done a few years ago.
While Arsenal fans are in turmoil after last night’s result, I am taking heart from the fact they look very much like a club on the road to nowhere.