Tottenham’s rise to prominence has been a gradual process, with the white side of north London steadily evolving into a team that can challenge for top four inclusion. However this season, like no other in the club’s recent past, Spurs have looked like a real contender for honours. Meanwhile, Arsenal, who have seemingly been perennial challengers for the Premier League title since Arsene Wenger took over at the club back in 1996, have looked their most vulnerable in years. With the status quo in north London set to be turned on its head, The Gunners may well have to accept that their local rivals are now the dominant force between the two.
Arsenal have had a terrible last ten days, with capitulation in Italy all but ensuring their elimination from the Champions League. Despite the extent of the 4-0 defeat to AC Milan, the most disappointing thing for the club’s supporters was the lack of passion, determination or fight put up by the English side; the days of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit are seemingly long gone. Add to this a 2-0 loss at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland to facilitate an FA Cup exit and there is a gloom hanging over the Emirates Stadium. Bad luck comes in threes, and Tottenham are eager to put the final nail in their adversary’s coffin and compound their misery further come Sunday by denting their rivals’ top four ambitions.
Spurs meanwhile have recovered from their last-gasp defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a couple of weeks ago, and a comprehensive 5-0 win over Newcastle shows that the White Hart Lane outfit are still confident and flying high. Harry Redknapp has been heavily linked with the vacant England job, but with the seasoned manager appearing reluctant to leave the club before the end of the campaign, the side’s progress and plans should stay on track. Injuries may however improve Arsenal’s chances at the Emirates Stadium, as Rafael van der Vaart, Emmanuel Adebayor, Luka Modric and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are all battling to overcome knocks to play at the weekend.
Pressure is starting to mount on Arsene Wenger, as the north London tide is turning. Football has no room for sentimentality, and despite the French coach’s hero status at the Emirates Stadium, question marks are being asked over his future. With The Gunners in no way guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League, losing twice to Tottenham in the process of missing out on Europe’s top club tournament may well see the end of one of the Premier League’s coaching mainstays. Add to this Robin van Persie’s reluctance to sign a new contract, and this north London derby has the ability to massively impact Arsenal’s immediate future in a positive or negative way.
Published – The Oval Log