An Open Letter to Tottenham Fans from a Disgruntled Arsenal Supporter
Dear Tottenham fans,
Normally I'd start a letter by asking how you're getting on. Unfortunately, I already know all too well. Every time I look at the Premier League table it provides a stark reminder that you're getting on just fine.
It's a bit of a surprise, to be honest. Last season, a five-goal beating was enough to send us on a terrific run of form and put you into a terminal decline. This season, we had the same scoreline, but the effect on our respective seasons has been far less dramatic: Arsenal's form remains patchy; Tottenham's ominous.
You've been helped in no small part by Gareth Bale. Debate about whether or not he deserves the tag "world-class" distracts from the indisputable fact that he has become an outstanding player. The way in which he is dragging Spurs towards Champions League qualification is eerily reminiscent of Robin van Persie's heroics in red and white. Bale's infuriating consistency is giving me some insight into just how irritating Van Persie must have been to Tottenham fans Iast season.
We faced accusations of being a one-man team, so it's only right that Tottenham do too. It's certainly a one-man attack: Jermain Defoe's form has dipped dramatically, and you've doubtless discovered that Emmanuel Adebayor is only really good for one season. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Bale will doubtless be a huge influence in this weekend's critical derby. It's a huge game: if Arsenal win, we'll have the momentum going into the final furlong. If Tottenham win, there may be no way back for the Gunners. Truth be told, this has been coming for a while.
Who will win this weekend?
Year on year the battle for supremacy between the two clubs has got closer. As the seasons have worn on, Arsenal have had to rely on freak occurrences (lasagne-gate) or forces of nature (Robin van Persie) to climb above our local rivals. We've also always been able to rely on Spurs' frailties. Tottenham teams have always seemed to have a soft core. When the going gets tough, Tottenham inevitably disappear.
This year seems different. Spurs have shown more steel, such as in their last-gasp victory over Lyon. Arsenal, however, have their weakest squad in years.
There has always been enmity between Tottenham and Arsenal, ever since the latter switched from Woolwich to Islington. There has always been envy too, but in the last 20 years that envy has predominantly emigrated from Spurs fans towards their more successful rivals.
For the first time in a while, Arsenal fans are casting jealous glances in the direction of the Lane. Tottenham have a young, ambitious manager. In Daniel Levy, you have a chairman who seems to actively enjoy adding players to the squad. In Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Sandro, Spurs have added spinal players who would all stand a good chance of starting for Arsenal. Spurs arguably play the most exciting football in the division.
There's a growing sense that Andre Villas Boas and Spurs are a club on the up, while Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are on the wane.
A convincing Arsenal victory on Saturday could change all that; a convincing Spurs victory will confirm our worst fears.
Either way, it promises to be a great game. May the best team win. I can't disguise my hope that that team will be Arsenal.
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