When do you think was the last time Spurs beat us in the league? Here’s a clue – they haven’t beaten us this century. When was the last time they beat us at White Hart Lane? Again, not this century. The Spuds have beaten us twice in 15 years! Should we win or draw tonight, we will record a record breaking 21 games without defeat against another team. Does this entitle them to be considered rivals or laughing stocks.
The Spuds sit in 5th place, 4 points behind Man City with a game in hand – this is a vital game for them in their (hopeless) quest for a CL spot. Harry is already “bigging up” his team, talking his usual nonsense about how our North London neighbours ( I hesitate to use the word rivals) are on a par with the Arsenal, and how they have closed the gap on us (13 points and counting). What is in Spurs favour is their home record, they have been very strong at the Lane, unbeaten in 8, and conceding only 10 goals all season – the best in the PL. Add to this our lack of punch upfront, the absence of our top scorer, and a low scoring game is predicted – what price a last minute Bendtner header?
Spurs real hope in this game lies in our desperate injury list. With Fabregas, Gallas, and Arshavin out, we have lost our 3 world class players. There remains the possibility that Song will not be fit which will be another major blow to us. Can we win with half a team? Will the sight of RvP on the bench (I cannot believe he will start) spark us to victory? Can Sol overcome what will undoubtedly be a torrid reception to deny Crouch and Pavlyuchenko? Absolutely – we are the better team, end of!
I expect Spurs to start with Defoe and Crouch and bring on Pav in the second half. They are missing Palacios which is a big plus for us. Also missing will be Krankjar and Lennon. Back for the NLD is our old friend David Bentley, who is sure to be desperate for a big game. I am still smarting from his fluke last season at the Emirates and his celebration which relegated (or elevated) him high into the Gooners hate list. I wish him a frustrating night, and a long dejected walk back down the tunnel when he is subbed after an hour.
This game is a season breaker for Spurs. The loss to a dire Portsmouth will have sapped not only their enthusiasm but also their physical strength – 120 minutes on the dire Wembley pitch will exhaust any team, and they will wilt in the last 20 minutes, which is when we are at our most dangerous. I expect us to line up as follows, though I am rarely correct…..
Sagna Sol TV Clichy
Song/Eboue Denilson Diaby Rosicky
Eboue could well start ahead of Theo, it depends upon how brave AW is feeling and if Song is fit.
I have many WHL memories dating back to Black and White days, most involve escaping their neanderthal fans, but despite the annual avoidance of flying bottles and coins in Paxton Road, it is a ground with positive memories. One of my faves was a 0-0 draw (1997) when Spurs absolutely battered us and Seaman showed why for a few years he was the World’s best GK (if only we could find another like him). And who can forget the Liam Brady left footer in a 5-0 in ’78?
Those were the days when Spurs were proper rivals. At Highbury when the chant “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” started, virtually the whole ground rose as one, now it is just the hardy few. Is this due to song-fatigue, or because Gooners no longer harbour an intense dislike of our neighbours? I applaud Harry’s attempts to bring Spurs to the top table. I want them to challenge us, it is good for North London, good for both clubs and good for the fans. It seems wrong that we “hate” MU and the Chavs, they are not the traditional enemy – it is the blue bellies from the Lane. Think of the songs …… The W***y Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope”, “My Old man said be a Tottenham fan, I said FO etc” “We hate Totteham”, “You won the League, In Black and White”. These are proper Arsenal songs, fashioned in the heat of the ’70′s and earlier. We don’t have songs for Chelsea, and those we have for MU are borrowed from other grounds. Football needs the comedy villain and Spurs over the past decade have just been the comedy - who can forget the commemorative mugs when they beat our youth team at WHL in the Carling!!
I fear that when we beat Spurs tonight they will roll over in their games at MU and home to the Chavs. It is important to us that they do well in both but which would the Spurs fans prefer – Chelsea or Arsenal to win the title? No brainer is it!
The North London Derby is always a feisty affair and a draw in this game effectively ends the prospects of both teams (can anyone really expect the Chavs to drop 6 points?). We need the victory and that is what I expect.