It’s been two years, nearly two years, since Arsenal got their last Premier League win over Tottenham, a 3-0 drubbing at the Emirates. Nothing new at the time, but almost ancient history when looking at the Premier League table right now – Arsene Wenger’s side are 15th, winning only two of their 7 league matches so far this season. Tottenham, despite the dark omens and the whole Luka Modric saga during the summer are sixth, with a game in hand, and two impressive home wins to kick off the season (4-0 over Liverpool as well).
Gareth Bale, who scored the winning goal on St. Hotspur Day two years ago, ending a long streak of being unable to beat Arsenal, in the month he pretty much broke into a sort of superstardom that has since faded, shot back up again and sort of faded again, has no doubts in his mind, unlike Arsene Wenger, whether Arsenal are better or worse this season after the Fabregas and Nasri exits – Arsenal have lost a few players, which makes them more beatable I think as that has damaged the way they play. We exposed that. think keeping your best players is a massive thing. They are used to how you play and what you do. It is vitally important to do that and build your team around them. It is important that we have Modric, and Arsenal were unlucky not to keep theirs.
I don’t think it has a lot to do with luck. Arsene Wenger knew his guys were keen on leaving, but hoplessly tried to hang on. When he actually did sell them, it was too late to find suitable replacements. Panic moves and a 8-2 humlihation at Old Trafford haven’t exactly helped the Gunners’ bid. Wenger himself conceded that Arsenal won’t challenge for the title this year. Quite a turnaround after claiming Arsenal are the better side now without Nasri and Fabregas.
I do not think like that, I think at the moment we have to set ourselves a realistic target and to get in touch with the teams who are fighting for the Champions League positions. If you say today we will win the league it is not realistic.
Wenger also keeps saying that his defense is looking better, becoming stronger. Conceding four at Blackburn and 16 in total this season, the third worst record in the Premiership (behind Bolton and Blackburn) suggests otherwise.
And while delusion, or simply camouflaging despair and failure with pretty words, is the trend at the Emirates, it’s quite different for the Harry Redknapp gang at White Hart Lane. Tottenham didn’t lose anyone they couldn’t afford to. Peter Crouch, despite the name, the resume and the height, scored only 12 league goals in 72 league matches. Selling him for 12 million was a must. Spurs hung on to their biggest assests (Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart) and were able to get a much better keeper than Gomes, for free.
Brad Friedel won’t be in any teams of the year lineups, but he’s solid and doesn’t cost you 3 points with unbelievably dumb mistakes. Tottenham did take a step backwards last year, failing to qualify for another Champions League campaign, but they got over (it seems) the Modric drama, and haven’t lost a step while putting out the fires. Harry Redknapp doesn’t spread around Wenger-style mantras and the Adebayor and Scott Parker signings look like a perfect fit.
Is this a permanent thing – Tottenham (four undefeated streak against Arsenal, winning three of the last four) beating the Gunners, outplaying them, finishing above them in the table? The end to St. Totteringham’s day, when Arsenal fans celebrate the fact that Tottenham can’t possibly finish above them in the table? Things are fickle in the Premier League, expect for the two great constants of Manchester United and Chelsea, as long as the Abramovich money keeps flowing. But there’s no doubt which stocks are dropping and which are rising, or at least remaining solid.
I won’t bother you with the ‘Fire Arsene Wenger’ stuff, it’s getting old, and there’s no reason letting him go right now. End of the season? Recommended. I think it’s time to say goodbye.