This is a very important north London derby, but it is certainly not the most important yet.
The differing fortunes of both teams means that it has become a key clash in the context of this particular season.
Arsenal are in a crisis, their third or fourth crisis this season if the media reaction is anything to go by – and they are in danger of finishing outside of the top four since Arsene Wenger took over.
Spurs are still (just) mounting a title challenge and, more realistically, looking to secure third place in the Premier League – their highest finish in years.
The fact they are such bitter rivals adds interest to the contest but it does not amplify the general importance of it.
We must view the clash from the perspective of both teams in order to really gauge the significance of the result and the wider implications made by these outcomes.
Arsenal are desperate for a win, they have had two terrible defeats in a row and they sorely need an emotional lift. That is the most important thing about this tie – its psychological effect on Arsene Wenger’s squad.
If they were to lose it would leave the door open for Chelsea and Newcastle United to jump ahead of them once more in the race for fourth spot.
However, they have to play both those teams at home before the end of the season, so they would by no means be out of the race due to there being time to pick themselves up after defeat for a second or third time this season.
If Tottenham go to Emirates Stadium and put on a performance their recent league form suggests they will, it will be a big ask for a Gunners squad that increasingly look like damaged goods.
It will further the gap between the teams, but that is a gap that nobody in their right mind would believe could be brigded.
Should they manage to upset the form book and the predictions of most commentators, Arsene Wenger’s side will give themselves a timely boost after a harrowing period of poor form and close the gap to seven points.
This could get them into a groove of confidence heading into the latter stages of the season and could prove invaluable.
On the other hand, if those with leaning towards Spurs look at this with a cool head, they will see that any outcome from this game is unlikely to do them any great good or harm in the Premier League.
They are far ahead enough for the team in fourth to be of no real concern to them and their title challenge petered out mostly a few weeks ago – you would also think it unlikely Manchester United and Manchester City will drop points in their respective games with Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers.
Champions League football looks all but secured, they have an FA Cup draw that should look pleasing to their fans and they look destined to finish above the club from the other half of north London for the first time in nearly two decades.
There is no real pressure on Harry Redknapp’s side to take all three points with them, as it would be only the second time in 18 years they would have managed to beat Arsenal away in the league.
A victory would be most sweet for Spurs fans, in the same way that a loss would only really be painful for them – Redknapp will look at it as a disappointment but should not be too concerned.
It is not the most important north London derby in modern times because there isn’t really a great deal at stake.
Defeat for either team will be most keenly felt in terms of bragging rights for both sets of fans, in terms of the season as a whole it will be a setback that can be rectified somewhat in the following fixture.
Both clubs will assess in terms of league position and other such factors, but the fact the result was against their closest rivals will not have a great deal of influence in their machinations.
The fans are those who will feel the pressure of every minute, the ups and downs of goals scored and conceded, the shame of defeat or the euphoria of victory.
It will not be so for the players and managers, however much they say so on their official websites – football just doesn’t work that way anymore.
If you disagree you are not alone, as GMF’s Pete South has argued it is the most important of recent times...
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