Since the Premier League’s inaugural season back in 1992, Arsenal have not once placed outside the top four, and in doing so, have never finished below their fierce rivals, Tottenham. For two decades North London has been painted with the red of the Gunners’ dominance over the Lilywhites, and Spurs fans have had to endure a distinct lack of bragging rights for a long time. Yet the tide, it seems, may have begun to turn.
Sunday’s results saw Chelsea overcome a spirited second-half performance from Arsenal, to see out a 2-1 victory, completing a Premier League double, whilst Clint Dempsey scored a 93rd-minute equaliser for Spurs against Manchester United. This marks the first time that United have failed to beat Tottenham in a Premier League season, following their historic 3-2 loss at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture back in September - a result that hadn’t been achieved by a Spurs side in the 23 years previously.
Following these games, the league table doesn’t make for pleasant viewing if you’re an Arsenal fan, now seven points behind Spurs, who occupy the last of the Champions League qualification spots.
Yes, this time last season, Spurs were in a similar position and threw it away, however you have to expect that the players and staff have learned from the mistakes that were made, and will take measures to ensure the same scenario doesn’t come back to haunt them.
There is also a feeling around White Hart Lane that AVB steers a much steadier ship than that of his predecessor, Harry Redknapp. It was the now-QPR boss’s widespread link with the available England job at the time, that led many to believe his heart was no longer in the Tottenham job, attributing to their severe dip in form during the second half of last season. No such developments are expected to be repeated this campaign.
So the coming months look brighter for Spurs, with only Chelsea left to play away from home out of the top six clubs, and a final run-in that, during the last four matches of the season, sees them play only one team currently in the top half of the table. In the same stretch of final games, Arsenal must entertain Manchester United, while facing a difficult trip to Newcastle on the last day of the season.
No doubt potentially the most pivotal tie of all that remain, however, is the North London derby clash at White Hart Lane on March 3rd. Should Spurs win that contest, then Arsenal will need to average nearly a whole point per game more than Tottenham, for the matches that they have left to play, in order to finish above them.
I, for one, will have my fingers crossed that the spectacle isn’t spoiled by another bout of food poisoning mysteriously washing over the Spurs side, come May 19th.
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