Spurs v Arsenal: An Arsenal fan in peace

The relationship between Spurs and Arsenal fans is usually a very acrimonious one but for our regular ‘fan opposition’ peace we managed to get the views of Chris, contributor of Gunners Town in preparation for Sunday’s North London Derby.

So, it’s the North London Derby on Sunday 12th July 2020, and the first at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.It’s pleasing to see Mourinho opening the salvos concerning a Twitter post the Arsenal official account made. But in his guises as Chelsea manager, he has of course had past beef with Arsenal and our former legendary manager Arsene Wenger.But despite what Alli and Trippier have said regarding this game, it means a lot to the fans. 

As a Gooner, it’s no shock to know I don’t view Spurs very kindly. Even though we’re known as “Woolwich” to our North London “brethren”, I believe we’ve outdone them on practically every front imaginable as a footballing institution. Well, OK, not in European trophies, but Man United still lord it over Liverpool despite the Scousers winning more European Cups. I will be gracious and give them credit for reaching a Champions League final and being a consistent top-four team for a while (but 13 years after we did it, and we beat Real Madrid with Zizou, Raul, et al en route, and put up a fight with ten men against a top Barca side.

We didn’t fold to Liverpool, who no doubt were/are great but not to Barca’s level).The NLD though is the biggest derby in England though – bar none. Liverpool/Everton may be between close neighbours, but Liverpool don’t take them that seriously, and there have been major finals apiece with them together in the same stands. Would this happen with Arsenal/Spurs? No chance.

Liverpool’s main rival is Manchester United, but they’re about 30 miles apart as it stands and it’s not really a derby in the strict sense of it all. Of clubs, in my view, who are closest together geographically, Arsenal and Tottenham is the fixture with the most history, contention, and crunch moments.

For every Gazza’s free-kick or Kane curler, there is a Brady curler or an Henry wondergoal. It’s produced some immense moments of the years, and the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is part of the joy of being a Gooner (as much as beating them). Southampton/Portsmouth is intense but they’re hardly in the same division these days. Same with Ipswich/Norwich or Luton Town/Watford. Arsenal/Spurs is THE derby because it’s been in the top division for many decades and firmly in the spotlight. 

Mourinho in my view has been interesting at Spurs so far, and it’s understandable why Levy got him in to get Spurs to the next level. There are issues with players like Ndombele, Alli off form, Aurier’s clangers, etc. But they’re playing Arsenal, and Jose will want a point to prove against a former nemesis side, as it were. Pochettino had to go in my outsider’s view, largely since he’d taken the team as far as he could, and there were signs of tactical breakdowns and falls.

Clearly the Colchester League Cup and the Bayern Munich defeats cost him, as he was in fairness the best manager Spurs had in some time. Don’t forget Harry Kane. His NLD record is excellent, and whilst not being outstanding in recent games vs. Arsenal he has invariably scored. Considering all the great strikers who have played for both sides – Lineker, Greaves, Archibald, Klinsmann for Spurs and Wright, Henry, Aubameyang, Smith, and Bergkamp for Arsenal, Kane has scored the most NLD goals.

A high accolade indeed. Son is another world-class player to watch out for – his pace and trickery are a match for players and Arsenal have to be on point to match him.Spurs’ midfield is fairly balanced on paper, though Lo Celso seems the best placed out of them. Ndombele, the club’s record signing, hasn’t been consistent and there is the evident beef with Mourinho. Sissoko doesn’t usually pull up trees but he is able when called upon, and Harry Winks whilst not top-top levels is competent when needed. 

Defensively, Spurs looks to have declined from their heights of a few years ago. Lloris, albeit a French WC-wining captain, has made many mistakes, and Serge Aurier despite being a former PSG player isn’t really up to it. Like Arsenal, Spurs need a rebuild defensively, though Mourinho is a manager who specialises in defensive structure, so this could help in the interim.
On paper, the strengths and weaknesses of Arsenal and Spurs are similar – weak defences, reasonable midfields, and strong attacks. It may well be a matter of who cracks first (or more) defensively as to who will win.
The battlegrounds will be to stop Kane and Aubameyang respectively.

Both are world-class strikers, with Aubameyang higher in the running for the PL Golden Boot at the moment. Both have shone in recent NLDs with goals and would be looking to add to this.Son and Pepe’s trickery are also key here, as would be Lacazette, Saka, Moura, and Bergwijn.  The Dutch international has done well for Spurs since joining and would be a handful potentially.

I don’t know who will win to be honest, though I’d want Spurs to lose obviously. I’m going to wimp out here and say a draw will result. Both sides may concede due to poor defences, and their opposing strong attacks. 2-2 draw, I feel. 

Either way, I hope it’s an entertaining game, as it’s the biggest and best derby fixture in England by far.