The North London Derby – The Showdown Gets More Sensational Than Ever!

North London Derby

Right at the heart of the Great Wen, where a new Premier League season has just reared the horizon, things are just about to get intense with the showdown between the two famed clubs of North London: Arsenal and Tottenham, both forever looking to get one over the other but this time with a few but significant differences. Both clubs have been in the hot seat for sometime, and the uncertainty of this derby makes it more lucrative than the United-Liverpool face-off that co-incides on the very same day.

The last year when these two teams locked horns, Arsenal overpowered Spurs in a crushing 5-2 victory, but the latter managed to avenge its defeat in the second fixture with a 2-1 win at home. But like always, the rivalry is not about the fixtures the two teams share, but the closeness of the two teams; both geographically as well as in the league table.

The rivalry between the two went down all the way to the last match of the last season, where Arsenal survived at Newcastle and beats Spurs to the 4th spot(the last champions league slot) by a margin of a single point with Spurs fans totally left in anguish of how their team got beaten off to a rather inconsistent Arsenal side, while Arsenal fans celebrated their 18th St.Totteringham’s year(18 years of finishing above Spurs in the league) with relief rather than joy. So, clearly past domination does not imply future achievement.

Surely the coming of the ex-Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas and his flurry of signings had been a key reason, just as the exit of several Arsenal stars including Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie etc. all of them not being properly replaced with, totally changing the size and shape of the teams altogether.

This time around, the visitors are coming in to the derby with a plethora of transfer activity while the Gunners have not managed to make any ground in the window which is set to close soon after the derby. However transfer activity, as it applies to all teams in the league has not met with a corresponding success or failure with respect to on-field performances, and Arsene Wenger’s boys are a sure-shot testimony to that.

With a massive clear-out early on, the Arsenal side which looked so inadequate in number breezed past Manchester City in a thrilling pre-season encounter at Helsinki. Apart from a 1-3 loss in the opening game to Villa marred by appalling refereeing and a couple of injuries, Arsenal convincingly dealt with Fulham(becoming the first club to win a hundred London derbies) and Fenerbache, with top-notch performances that has propelled them to the top half of the table again, and into the UEFA Champions League for the sixteenth year in a row.

Nevertheless injuries still have been a massive issue with the Gunners’ current side; and they will be fending off this derby without Podolski, Arteta and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. The Gunners however will be boosted by the availability of Laurent Koscielny, who had been suspended for the second match. Spurs in contrast, having splashed over 60 million pounds, including a club record transfer had a under par performance in their first two matches, both at home, only managing to gain 6 points by goals scored from penalties. Gareth Bale’s absence is quite visible in their ranks, and the Spurs would need to gather a huge momentum to be able to penetrate the solid Arsenal defense without the Bale blitzkergs that used to help them earlier.

Tottenham’s side has dramatically improved on paper since the last two seasons, and AVB has addressed the frontline problem they had last year, having signed Roberto Soldado, who has been one of La Liga’s finest finishers behind Messi and Ronaldo over the years. Also, a lot of variety and flavor thrives in the Spurs mid-field which can cause quite some damage if the threats it poses are not heeded to.

Yet it is Arsene’s men who start as favorites to this clash, the Gunners have a very balanced team, probably only second to Manchester City in the league and each and every player has been consistent and gelled together as a well-oiled team that totally does not convey anything of their lack of transfer activity. Clearly the dominance in the Champions League qualifiers speak of the stability and quality that Wenger(who is entering into his 18th year with the club), has built the team with. Besides while the Gunners have had a lot of sad episodes in the transfer window, the fact that they have all but paid off their stadium is clearly an indication that they would be spending.(or I hope that they would)

And with rumors linking them to couple of top-profile names such as Benzema and Di Maria, anything that the Gunners manage to add before the window ends, stands as a phenomenal gain to their ambitions and their chances in the league. As for Spurs, the uncertainty that looms over Gareth Bale saga has costed them quite a lot, and it is only viable for them to decide sooner before the derby and concentrate on their performances.

So clearly, this North London derby which has significantly evolved with respect to the recent transfer fortunes(or misfortunes) of both these clubs, still significantly leaves Arsenal at the advantage for its stability and the consistency more than the sheer strength of the Spurs on paper and the hype surrounding their signings.
It is probably this factor that again, would decide where the two teams end up at the end of the season. Whether Arsenal this year is as sufficient to hold on to its top 4 finish as Wenger claims to be. Or whether the signings that AVB has gambled with, pay off for the Spurs.

Whatever it is, the sensational North London derby remains hot as always, and the rivalry can only get more fierce with both teams single-mindedly striding towards their pursuit of achieving more in the league. Rest assured, get some chips and soda, sit back and watch the game, and you will not be disappointed.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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