Sunday 6 November 2016

The 184th North London Derby

Tons of paper and ink & online space have been devoted to the North London Derby and I dare say will continue to be devoted to it. I can only apologize for adding mine to it.

The North London rivalry is real amongst fans. Pre match, Arsenal players have been especially keen to let everybody know that they get the importance of the derby game and the emotions fans invest into it.

The 184th North London Derby has come and gone with both sides settling for a point courtesy of 2 goals from the Spuds lads. I get that the Arsenal faithful are disappointed especially as Arsenal had the advantage on paper preceding this match. But chin up; you could be Tottenham fans whose team scores all the goals in a match and end up drawing. 

In my opinion, The Spuds came for a draw and got what they desired. I don’t buy the Pochettino is a great manager, brilliant manager, tactical manager narrative. He has won nowt and he has done nothing special in his 2 seasons at Tottenham and today. In with a chance of keeping the pressure on Leicester last season, they melted. Gifted the chance to finish above Arsenal for the first time in eternity, they lost by 5 goals to a relegated team.

Lesser teams than Tottenham play Arsenal with massed ranks and earn at least a point. Arsene has played 1 cup game against Pochettino’s Spuds and won. In fact, I make it that Pochettino is the inferior manager, he has ended up losing or drawing in the last 3 matches where he has taken the lead against Arsenal.  

As it stands, we are 2 points off top spot with inferior goal difference. The fact that we are in 4th place might hurt a bit because of the ribbing & trolling of opposing fans and some half brained football pundits. But you know what, it is 11 games in 38. Just under a 3rd of the season gone. There is still a lot of football to play.  

What is important, as I have always argued with friends, is to remain competitive as we approach the home strait. To be 2 or 3 points off the top spot in March or April will be fantastic coupled with solid performances leading up to that period. And also ensuring we don’t lose to anybody who will remotely be competing with us for the title.

Back to the 184th North London Derby, recent matches have tended to follow a pattern with Spuds appearing to and actually dominating on the day, taking the lead and Arsenal finding a way back into the match to share the spoils.    

On 27 September 2014 they took the lead via Chadli only to be pegged back by an Oxlade - Chamberlain goal

On 8 November 2015, they again took the lead via Harry Kane, only to drop points with that wonderful goal by Gibbs in the last few minutes of the match

On 5th March 2016, they were ahead and playing Arsenal’s 10 men, only to concede to a Sanchez leveler.

The one time we took the lead via Ozil in February 2015, we ended up losing perhaps deservedly so.

Today was different in my opinion. Our manager was the only one who wanted to win. The brilliant Pochettino was mightily satisfied with a point. As usual, their boys were mostly all brawn and vicious tackles and they would have been fortunate to finish with 9 men let alone 11.

Our boys wanted to win it too. None of the Arsenal players were in hiding today. They all fronted up. Yes we can pick up areas where players like Oxlade - Chamberlain & Iwobi could have done better. We can have a little moan about Koscielny not needing to tackle Dembele for that penalty, as Dembele was going nowhere. Overall, I am delighted with the boys especially on effort. In my opinion, all sorts of things influence football results. Referees are a big one, an unkind bounce of the ball and poor old lady luck are others. What matters is for the manager to put his best 11 forward, let them give their best and us fans cheer them to the rafters. Results usually follow.

So on to The Theater of Screams. Barring a freak incident, Ozil will be fresh for that match. I hope all our boys on international duty return in one piece. I hope Santi Cazorla has recovered in time too both for that match and the rest of the season. Bring on Salford United.  

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