Why Spurs will still finish above Arsenal:
"we can still give Arsenal a bloody nose and get them off our backs"
March 15th, 2012
Just a couple of weeks ago everything was peachy. Spurs had an outside chance of winning the Premier League title and more importantly, looked near certainties to finish above Arsenal. For what seemed like the first time in my life, supporting Tottenham Hotspur was an enjoyable experience, but I was soon to take the short trip back to normality.
Had Spurs won the recent North London derby, we would have extended our lead over our deadly rivals to an unassailable 13 points. It says much of Tottenham’s revival and Arsenal’s downturn, that at two goals up I was completely confident that the 13-point gap would become a reality. Just a few seasons ago, I can remember Spurs being 4-0 up at home to Arsenal and I was still suffering palpitations whenever they entered our half. Now I was cocksure in our superiority, but I was about to be reminded of what being a Tottenham fan was all about.
In a word, being a Tottenham fan in my lifetime has always been about ‘disappointment’. That sense of disappointment came flooding back, as 0-2 quickly became 5-2. We were played off the park, in a flashback to the days when we would try to compete against the powers of Adams, Vieira and Henry, with the likes of Doherty, Freund and Iversen.
Since that demoralising defeat, Spurs have lost to Manchester United and Everton, while Arsenal have pulled off smash-and-grab victories against Liverpool and Newcastle. You could argue that we deserved to get something from both of our last two games, while Arsenal can count themselves lucky to have taken 6 points from their two fixtures. Yet the fact remains that the 10 point gap which once separated the two clubs has now been whittled down to a single point. What looked a racing certainty, has turned into a nail-biting test of nerve.
The old fear of the stronger local bully has returned to me, but I find myself confident that we can still give Arsenal a bloody nose and get them off our backs. First we need to get back to winning ways and we have a great opportunity to do just that, with home games against Bolton in the FA Cup and Stoke in the league, to come in the next few days.
Harry Redknapp has consistently been found wanting in his tactical battles against his rival managers at the top of the table. Few managers would be so foolhardy as to play an unbalanced 4-4-2 away at Arsenal, but against weaker opposition, our uncomplicated tactics have allowed our talented attacking players to shine.
I’m not expecting any points from our upcoming away trip to a resurgent Chelsea, but once that game is out of the way, our remaining fixtures are reminiscent of Joe Louis’ ‘Bum of the Month Tour’. We have proved this season that we can bounce back from losses to record a number of wins on the spin. If we can do that again, I don’t expect Arsenal to be able to keep pace.
Logic dictates that Arsenal can’t keep winning games in the 95th minute and eventually they will start to drop points. Knowing Arsenal, those dropped points will probably come against sides that they are expected to beat. It’s been the story of their season and the battle of North London may well be decided by which team is most adept at dispensing with the also-rans.
Words by Dan Fitch – check out the rest of his Totenham Blog on Footballscores.com