Arsenal v Spurs Preview

Before I start this preview, just thought I’d wish Dev a happy birthday! It was Word of Arsenals’s birthday a few days ago, but today it’s Dev. Hope you’ve had a stonking day, and tomorrow does not ruin it!

So, to tomorrow’s match.

The last couple of seasons or so have seen a slight downturn in our fortunes against Spurs, and as much as I hate to say this, it’s not surprising that we’re going in tomorrow as underdogs. Well, when I mean “underdogs”, that’s as far as the media and neutrals are concerned. In my own little warped, biased, Arsenal-till-I-die mind, losing tomorrow is definitely not acceptable in any way, under any circumstances. I don’t care if we’re down to nine men from the off, it’s just not acceptable. I don’t care that they’re ahead of us in the table and have been pretty much all season, a defeat just isn’t acceptable. They might have beaten us earlier this season at White Hart Lane, but like hell I’m going through THAT again. Even if we were bottom of the league and certainly relegated, and Spurs were top of the tree (like any of those would happen!), it still wouldn’t enter my mind to class us as underdogs. I did say warped mind, right?

Still though, I’m not terribly looking forward to tomorrow. Spurs have got a good team right now, and us? I’m not really sure what we have. We’ve got a world class payer in Robin who delivers the goods week in week out (and boy are we lucky he’s still fit!), but with the others, you just cannot tell what you’ll be getting. But we have been decimated by injuries (nothing new there!), and the team sort of picks itself, which is never a good thing, because you need competition. We’ve also had a few dodgy results of late, and confidence is surely low. We also had the curious case of Arshavin going on loan last night, almost out of the blue, leaving a depleted squad even more depleted. Pretty sure Arsene had his (valid?) reasons, but there’s just a general air of confusion around the club right now.

But nothing  like winning a North London derby to get us back on track, eh? I was having a discussion on twitter yesterday with someone, about the importance of the NLD, and we concluded that unfortunately, the players don’t seem to get how important the derby is to us fans. Of course some players DO get it, but with the rate at which players switch clubs, the passion for clubs just isn’t there. I wish it wasn’t the case, but I surmise that we’ve probably got more players in the team who just don’t get the NLD than those who do. I just hope we have more than Spurs do! One player who gets it is Sagna, and he talked about it on Arsenal.com, stating that:

“Every game is important but the derby is the killer one. This is one of the biggest games of the season and we know we have to win it. It will give us even more power to move forward.”

“We play Tottenham, they are the enemy this weekend and we lost the first game [at White Hart Lane] and we want to bounce back from it. For the fans it is even more important because it is a derby and we can’t lose.”

The NLD isn’t just about points on the board, it’s about pride, although I guess both go hand in hand. We’ve taken it for granted in the past that we’d beat Spurs easily, but I’m pretty sure not many people are thinking the same this year. But random question, if you had the option of losing both NLDs in the season embarrassingly but winning the league in style, and losing out of 4th spot by some margin, but absolutely thrashing Spurs both times, what would you go for? Tough or easy one? I actually don’t know!

But well, as far as this season is concerned, neither is an option anyways, so yes please, I’ll quite like to remind them of how it used to be, thank you very much! I came across this stat somewhere, that Spurs have not done the double over us in the league since the 1992/1993 season. Please lads, I’d quite like to quote this stat again next season. Actually I won’t, because that would mean we’d lost the first NLD already, but you know what I mean!

There’s not that much hyping up you can do for the NLD, because the match pretty much hypes itself. We have had a relatively awful season, and other than sealing 4th (or 3rd!), and beating Milan 5-0 at the Emirates, there isn’t that much left in our season. Winning tomorrow will definitely go a long way in putting a bit of sunshine into our season and easing the pressure off Arsene, even just a little bit!

But as they say, the proof is in the pudding, so I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if we’ve really got a good chef!

  • Bonathan

    At the start of the season it was clear that the best our current squad could possibly get was 4th and a cup. a cup is out of the question now but 4th is still a possibility. if this team can achieve that then it is a good achievement for the squad we have. of course, whether our squad should be quite as bad as it is is another matter. simply, the answer is no, it shouldn’t.

    bad moves and missed opportunities in the transfer market over the last 5 seasons have led to the team we have now. blind faith kept in sub standard players over long stretches of time, while better, and very often, cheaper options have gone on to flurry for other clubs.

    unbelievably slow reaction times to address blatently obvious problems over the years has only added to the fustration of fans who know, had a couple of simple, savvy decisions been made at the right times, the club could have been sailing in much nicer waters.

    it isn’t all doom and gloom though, 4th place would make so much difference to us going forward. with chelsea picking up 3 points yesterday and the return of essien, it ain’t gonna be easy, but a big result today could easily kickstart our push.

    once again though we are rueing our luck with injuries. bad luck? i’m really not sure we can keep putting it down to bad luck, there’s something not right that is causing these injuries. the training regime, the pitch? who knows, but it’s another blatent problem that has carried on for too long.

  • Bonathan

    wow, i have just returned from holiday and have just discovered the news that arsharvin is gone for the rest of the season. with henry going too, our attacking options look a lot slimmer than they did a few weeks ago. an injury or two there now and we will be struggling. i find it a bit of a shame that AA was never actually given a chance to play in his so called best position from an attacking central midfield role. he only ever played from the wide areas and as a lone striker for a few games.

    with fabregas and nasri leaving, i though AA might at least get a game there, but not so. i guess we’ll never know.

  • eric

    the knives will be out

  • Vazy

    WHAT A GAME!

    I don’t think I was the only one who was ultra pessimistic at 0-2 down… but the team pulled together and showed some real passion and a never say die attitude, so happy to be proved wrong (by half time no less!) FANTASTIC result for the guys out there, hopefully that will give a few of our players some more confidence, this game is exactly what the team and the fans needed after a dubious run of late. good to see sagna, walcott and rosicky get some goals along with the ever amazing Captain Vantastic! Lets just hope the team can build on this result. GO ON YOU GUNNERS!

    5-2 what a scoreline!

  • heman

    O.K, i am big enough to eat humble pie after a performance like that but why oh why does it take us being 2-0 down until we wake up and start playing? I have said many times that as a defensive central midfielder, Song is top drawer. Second half, he did the job he is there for and unlike the first half where he got too far forward and gave long balls away, he protected the back four and allowed our left/right backs to get forward but without leaving gaping holes on the counter. As far as Theo is concerned, 2 quality goals and a better second half display does not make up for the long run of poor performances and i fear he will be back to his under performing best! People will know that i have never been a fan of Rosicky but hats off to him today he was inspired but again how can you explain his inconsistancy and lack of effort in so many other games this season????? Had my doubts about Benayoun starting but again an inspired performance and i wonder why he has been given so little pitch time? I am over the moon at the result and just hope we can carry this momentum into the next couple of games “BUT” i still believe that Wenger has served his time and unless we see change in the manager and the board, days like this will be few and far between!

  • eric

    This was like a reminder of the old days. Players actually making runs into the box. Perhaps Tottenham’s general confidence played into the hands of Wenger’s players. Keen to try and play their own game, they left spaces that could be exploited, and for once, duly were. The Gunners capitalized and the away section emptied as it became clear that there was to be no repeat of the 4-4 game of 2008, a symbolic moment when the rot started to set in at the club.

    It was highly enjoyable, and Arsenal regained the now cherished fourth spot (a position they were disappointed to finish in last season, let’s not forget). There is talk amongst the optimists of staying ahead of Chelsea and overtaking Spurs to finish third. Certainly, if the team can perform like this on a regular basis, I could believe it. The question is, can they? Was this a one-off or a turning point? We’ve seen so many false dawns at the new stadium that Gooners could be forgiven for not raising their hopes.

    I’d say it was like getting back together with an ex for a night. For a brief spell, it feels good – just like the old times. And you allow yourself to think it might all be okay again. You know what follows…

    However, let us not take away from what was a wonderful afternoon, the kind we dream about as fans. That Spurs were given false hope by taking a two goal lead meant that the boot was on the other foot in more ways that one yesterday.

    I am fully aware I will be vilified in the comments for not writing a 100% positive piece without any reservations, although for some strange reason I got off fairly lightly after pieces on the Sunderland (FA Cup) and Milan games. But my question to the keyboard warriors is this. Why couldn’t some of these players perform with this kind of commitment and purpose before yesterday? Because I simply cannot work it out.

  • lance

    Before the game all the talk was how this was Sp*rs best team in 50 years and this was our worst under Arsene Wenger. Even if that is the case, it shows you that it will take more than one half-decent season for ‘balance of power’ to shift. Must we remind people that Sp*rs have won nothing? They might qualify for the Champions League but then we’ve done that every year under Arsene Wenger. Harry’s a genius for getting them to 3rd (maybe there’s a nicer trophy for that than the one for 4th).

    But the season is not over, there’s a long way to go, for them and for us. We’ve got to approach the Liverpool game the same way as we did yesterdays. And then the game after that, and the game after that. This cannot be a one-off because of the opposition and circumstances. We ignored the blueprint after that Chelsea game (3-1) at home, let’s not do it this time because it’s obvious that if the team plays the way they did yesterday then they’ll have far more good results than bad ones.

    Anyway, that’s trying to leech all the positives out of it in one morning. Bottom line is we bashed five goals past them, and the lift it’s given everything is incredible. The team needed it, the fans needed it, the manager needed it, Pat Rice’s shorts needed it, and the club as a whole needed it. That was an example of spirit, character and, dare I say it, mental strength.

    It will provide us with as much to talk about this week as any other result we’ve had this season and I was so heartened to see as many positive comments on the match report as there are negative ones after a bad result. We can analyse the crap out of it as the week goes on but for now we have to sit back and bask in the warm glow of the kind of day that doesn’t come along that often, the kind of day when you have to forget everything else and just enjoy.

  • lance

    In between reading the aforementioned articles the need was further rammed home by a rather unpleasant experience with a fellow Gooner who was one of the Anti-Wenger brigade and uninterested in any viewpoints that didn’t support his own perspectives which really compounded to me a simple point; that for many football fans these days the Manager has become such a pivotal figure that they and they alone bare the brunt of our modern scapegoat fuelled culture for all ills on and off the field regardless of the truth of the matter. Now I should state for the record that I’m a very pragmatic person; I have this blessing/curse of being able to see both sides of an argument which drives many people up the wall as I refuse to take a stance or pick a side in arguments to do with specific key subjects. For example: I’m an atheist but I completely understand people’s need for faith**. In much a similar vein of thought I am neither a Wengerite nor Wenger hater, I do greatly respect what he’s done for the club so he does get he benefit of the doubt, but don’t confuse this with blinkered idol worship – Wenger is just a man with all the weaknesses and strengths that come with the human condition so when trying to come up with my first post in what feels like a billion years I thought I’d try and distill some of the arguments for/against into a simple bite sized nugget and then in time honoured tradition let all the 7amkickoff readers kick off in the comments, where often most of the interesting discourse occurs in my opinion.

    I’m going to address the pro’s first, simply out of respect for the great man as although I can look at many of Wenger’s weaknesses and pick over them like carrion it would be disrespectful not to firstly state that in my opinion and in the opinion of many AW is not only the best Manager Arsenal has ever had, but also one of the most important managers in the history of the English game. I won’t go into detail about how he revolutionised the game as Birdcamp’s article pretty much sums it up, the PL was the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal of global football when he came to AFC in 1996. Players were ‘lads’ not the professionals we see in the modern game, binge drinking was rife in the UK’s booze fuelled culture and I’m sure he must have come to the club and almost fainted in disbelief at the practices common in the English game.

    Now something I think is very misunderstood is that Wenger is an Innovator first and foremost, not an adapter which I think is a fundamentally key point in understanding the man and his approach to the game. He is nothing like SAF who is a survivor, adapting techniques from those he comes up against and moulding them into his own playbook. This is not to take anything away from old red nose as his record speaks for itself, but the two look at the same problem in a different manner and each has his methods. In my opinion SAF simply could not have done what AW has done at Arsenal, indeed he’s not changed the game the way AW did. SAF already had Old Trafford, a more modern infrastructure and solid foundations, AW came to Arsenal when the club was still training on school fields! SAF always adapts his techniques to suit his opposition, he doesn’t invent new approaches. I think this is why ManUre have had the same result twice at the hands of Farca. To beat Farca you have to find a different approach entirely because they are too good at their own style and if not for a pissy Swiss ref we would have planted that flag last season.

    To further illustrate this, think of SAF’s tactics against the Invincibles. They couldn’t play toe to toe so they simply went about kicking them off the pitch, or at least trying too with the utter shitebag Rooney eventually conning the ref into a penalty that saw the end of the unbeaten run. These tactics are both cynical and effective; the Special (ed) One used the same play when he got to the Chavs too, and at Inter and now at Real. When Wenger’s tactics turned to the quicker ‘total football’ of the ‘07/’08 team, SAF’s reply was to just try and stifle them and nick the game by bullying tactics with bigger physical players and breaking up play relying on lenient English refs for protection, the same protection not afforded him in the Champs Lge which is why in my opinion it worked against us, but not against Farca. Taking all this in it could be said that we can argue over these points until the cows have gone home, put the kettle on and convinced the misses to put out a quick knee trembler. Even then those that favour the AW approach will never agree that SAF’s approach is better and vice versa, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. My point is that without Wenger the whole effing Premier League, let alone Arsenal, would be worse off and this is why he’s worshipped by many.

    However, there is a ‘but’ to the aforementioned: The very thing that makes AW tick may well cause his downfall and so we get to the ‘rust’ side of the argument. The problem with Innovators in general is that to us mere mortals they look like lunatics. Read the story of Albert Einstein for evidence of this fact. Laughed out of Universities all over Europe for his radical ideas he was forced to take a job as a Patent Clerk to make ends meet as he could not get the time of day from the Academic establishment of the time. During his time in the Patent office it was the freedom of thought and unconstrained environment he found there that allowed him the freedom to write his most famous works on General Relativity which are required reading the world over and are a cornerstone of Physics as we know it today. This is not to say that AW is on the same level as Einstein, but they are cut from similar cloth. They both have been called stubborn and have levels of self belief that border on the arrogant. Both are/were ridiculed by the practitioners of established methods for their thinking and indeed have been seen as both genius and foolish by the mainstream, they are often called ‘eccentric’ purely because they do not adhere to the doctrines of the masses, they see the world in a different way that often cannot be seen at the time, but with the value of hindsight looks like they had a magical mirror showing them the future.

    The big problem with this process of the innovative mind is that it relies on failure just as much as success to function. A famous quote that’s a personal favourite of mine is from Thomas Edison on his repeated failures (some 3000 attempts to get the light bulb to work): “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” The trouble is that in modern football the very methods that made Arsenal and Wenger the success that they collectively are, might well be fundamentally incompatible with the modern game as we know it, both in the media that scutinise every move made, and in a fanbase hungry for the successes of days gone by in this era of pre-packaged success or doom mentality. If Arsenal were to go on a at present unthinkable winning streak from now until 2014 and do the Quadruple with an added dash of Invincibles part deux it would have a grand chunk to do with the lessons learned and therefore attributable to the 7 barren years that see us in the stinky mess in which we currently inhabit. If we do not believe in Wenger we’ll never know. However there is an obvious counterargument; perhaps the modern game no longer requires an innovator such as Wenger as everyone’s caught up with his approach, his talent for spotting, erm, talent, his scouting network, training regimes and other such ideas. Maybe like another amazing manager, Brian Clough he’s doomed to be a victim of his own success.

    In my opinion Wenger’s biggest mistake has been his faith in players that simply do not repay him in kind. Fabregas, Hleb, Flamini, Nasri, Adeybayor, Viera, Henry… yes even Henry, have all gone against their word and forced the manager’s hand when it came to their transfers. Some for greed, others for personal reasons of which can well be understandable but whatever the reason when the rubber hits the road they all said one thing and did another. I know I’ll get slaughtered but Fabregas is my personal bat to beat him with, he built the whole team around him in the post Viera era and the player himself signed a multiple year deal just a few scant years before forcing the managers hand and most likely completely screwing up our season. A very good mate of mine pointed out quite recently we as a club didn’t have the balls to just say ‘tough shit son’ and make him stick to his contract, instead letting Fabregas go for half his market value and completely messing up our pre-season. Na$ri forcing his way was just the icing on a steaming Manc infested and Viera influenced cake of poo. This despicable push from everyone involved with Fabregas saga is underscored to me in this statement from an article about Cesc stating he won’t talk about RVP to his contract situation I saw on Sky:

    “Everything that I did to come here and all the help that I received from Barca, from the coach, the president and my team-mates has been worth the effort,”

    Proof if needed that Cesc was of course tapped up by Barca for at least two years and that this ‘love’ for our club and our manager is just lip service because he sided with them in the argument much to the glee of the media and all Arsenal’s many detractors. He used us just the way Flamini did – my mind was made up a long time ago over this and I have to grudgingly respect Citeh over their treatment of Tevez (fuck you sit on the bench) as I wish we’d had the minerals to do the same with Cesc. Anyway – enough of that rant, back to the point in fact.

    The next issue in the check boxes against Wenger is the lack of support he is receiving from the board. He has been caught in a Boardroom fist fight for control of the club between the old firm, and David Dein which has resulted in the current ownership (don’t forget Kronke was Dien’s first sugar daddy followed by the Russian). I won’t go into this too much as again the Birdcamp article sums it up, but despite Wenger’s votes of support from the Board and owner there is little doubt that he does not have the same type of support he enjoyed when Dein was there; a friend and trusted confidant. It’s a VERY different dynamic of working with people you like, versus people you tolerate and in my opinion Wenger doesn’t look like someone that is happy at work.

    So taking all the above in hand you may be asking yourself where I stand on the trust/rust issue and the truth is I’m on the fence for the first time. I have been a staunch supporter of Wenger, but is even his brilliance immune to the lynch mob when even Ice Cube*** has sold his sole to the Corporate devil?

    I see a brilliant man isolated in a magnificent prison of his own design, but placed there by those he trusted be they ex members of the board, the players themselves, the media and us the fans. Can he still ‘win things’? Without hesitation I say yes, for if he leaves I feel certain he will be successful at another club without all the baggage of Arsenal’s legacy around his neck but where does that leave us? How do you replace genius? How do you follow up the clubs most successful manager, one who has changed the club and indeed the fundamentals of football in England if not the world? With Mourinho who only cares about himself? With Gardiola who was instrumental in the despicable behaviours of Farca? We’ve seen how managers can be brilliant in one place and dire in another, just look at the Chavs; it’s all about environment. How about homegrown candidates? Bould? Bergkamp? I’m afraid I have no answers. This article is more about my search for the truths as I see them away from the knife fight of the trust’s vs. rust’s. I think Wenger has one last roll of the dice, one last summer to shut all the naysayers up and yes, I think he deserves that chance regardless of the CL or Europa League – we didn’t sack George Graham for finishing outside the top four did we? The deciding factor is what’s really going on behind the scenes and that’s something for another day.

  • richiebacardi

    Well done lads….

    Now can we have the same for every other game….When I mean the same, not just the results/final score…I mean the determination and ruthlessness and discipline…the results will come.

    I don’t know about you guys….but win, lose or draw, if we play like this every game I will be one happy little gooner.(Of course I’d prefer the wins!)

    Also well done to the Emirates….it’s the loudest I’ve heard us in ages….Lets keep that up too!!!