The Weekend Where North London Was White
Sunday’s North London derby displayed a young, vibrant Spurs side under AVB grasp an accomplished 2-1 victory over a static, stumbling Arsenal showing all the teenage angst of Wenger’s 16 year reign.
Although this result has not settled anything in terms of the race for the top four, it highlighted the contrasting trajectories of each club.
Arsenal have been able to celebrate St Totteringham’s day every year since 1994-95, Spurs living in Arsenal and Wenger’s shadow in terms of quality, trophies and Europe.
But Tottenham have began to rise out of the shadows in recent years, only a dodgy lasagne costing them a fourth placed finish above Arsenal in 2006 and they managed to self-destruct last year under Harry Redknapp blowing a 10 point lead.
This year under AVB they appear to have put aside feelings of inferiority and displayed the mental toughness in yesterday’s victory that suggests they now have the ability to finish above Arsenal.
The improvement the additions of Demebele and Vertonghen have brought to Spurs’ squad was evident yesterday, Spurs average 2.32 points per game with Moussa Dembele on the pitch, and only 0.57 points without him whilst Vertonghen produced a man of the match display at centre half that kept the Arsenal forwards quiet.
Villas-Boas seems to have created unity at Spurs in stark contrast to the dressing room turmoil he suffered at Chelsea, the side appear young and ambitious like the man himself.
Vitally, he’s getting the best from Gareth Bale, a player who’s clearly bought in to AVB’s vision judging by their embrace after his winner against West Ham. Bale’s finish yesterday demonstrated the exuding confidence that appears to have eluded Arsenal.
Giroud continues to struggle up top on his own in red, but with a lack of real competition in Arsenal’s striking department and a reluctance to persist with Walcott in his favoured forward position, Arsenal have few alternatives.
Similarly, Arsenal’s centre backs appeared to lose their legs yesterday, Thomas Vermaelen is not the imperious figure that at times last season held Arsenal’s defence together single handed.
Whether this means Wenger is now also on his last legs in charge of Arsenal remains to be seen, but with talk of foreign investment coming in, missing out on the Champions League could spell out the need for change.
However, with Wenger’s side only sitting five points behind Chelsea in fifth, perhaps their real battle now lays in another, more discontented, area of London.