6th November 2016
Arsenal Vs Tottenham Hotspur
There may well have been fireworks last night, but there are bound to be a few more this afternoon. For most fans of either club this is the big one. It used to mean bragging rights in factory canteens all around North London, now it’s more likely to create alarm and despondency, or triumphant euphoria on blogs and social networks instead.
I’m not sure how the majority of players, both Arsenal and Spurs, view local derbies these days, few if any were born and bred in the area, brought up with a fierce loyalty to one club or the other. To the fans though, there is no question about it, if there is one game they would give almost anything to win it’s this one.
You’re not reading this for a history lesson, so I’ll skip the stats except to say of all the meetings between the two greatest rivals in world club football, Arsenal have won more than Spurs.
Tottenham have been creeping closer over the recent past and could have, apart from a seismic meltdown, actually finished above us in the league for the first time almost in living memory last season. Currently we are three points and three places above them with a superior goal difference. They are, however, the only unbeaten side in the league, how gratifying it will be to wreck that little run.
There will only ever be one team called “The Invincibles”.
There have been many great matches between the two clubs in the past, but the one that will forever burn brightly for me was on a certain Monday night in May 1971 at White Hart Lane. Ray Kennedy’s header went in off the underside of the bar and pandemonium broke out on the terraces as Arsenal celebrated the sweetest of title wins. My wife and I along with Ted, my late older brother, and two mates from work had fought our way through the turnstile only moments before the gates were slammed shut with over fifty-four thousand inside the creaking old ground and thousands more left out in the street.
I don’t expect that level of drama today, The Emirates is a much more staid venue and the crowd much, much less vociferous. The thunderous tackles of 1971 have given way to the powder puff taps and dramatic dives of present day football and footballers.
There will of course be interesting mini battles all over the pitch, with players such as Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin facing the likes of Wanyama, Sissoko and Dembele anything could happen. The referee will have to be alert to the propensity for diving by Doolally Alli and Lamela. What are the odds of both teams completing the game with a full complement of players?
One of the mainstays of the Tottenham defence, Alderweireld, is not available through injury while Kane is a risky option to start as he can hardly be said to be match fit. Both the Spurs full-backs like nothing better than bombing forward, so space behind them could be an option for Walcott and Alexis to take advantage of.
Wenger gave little away about injuries, at his press conference, but that’s entirely to be expected. In one paper this morning a back four of Jenkinson, Mustafi, Gabriel and Koscielny has been suggested, that’s supposing that none of Bellerin, Monreal and Gibbs are available.
I hope that we have Bellerin and Monreal back at least, they along with Walcott and Cazorla were due to be assessed yesterday.
There are many intriguing combinations available for selection, I’m sure Wenger and his backroom boys will sort something out. Whoever he chooses, they must start from the first whistle, get in Spur’s faces and dominate the game.
Can we do it? Can we shatter their unbeaten run? Of course we can!
C’mon The Glorious Gunners!!
Written by Norfolk Gooner.