Contrasting fortunes for North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs
How the crowing must be reverberating around London's N17 postcode, the home of Tottenham Hotspur and 36,000 fans who don't know whether to stock their medicine cabinet with uppers or downers these days. One minute they're having to cope with defeat to Sunderland and a muted reverse at the hands of Portsmouth in the FA Cup semifinal, the next they've secured spine-tingling 2-1 wins over beloved neighbors Arsenal and old chums Chelsea.
One thing they do know is that this is not a gloating opportunity to be wasted; in 35 Premier League encounters with Arsenal, Spurs only won five times and the last came in November 1999. Tottenham had beaten Chelsea more recently (last season in fact), but last Saturday's victory was still only its third win in 17 years.
There's more at stake here than bragging rights as Spurs edge closer to Champions League qualification. Spurs' performances against Arsenal and Chelsea combined flair and gallantry, exuberant yet disciplined. Chelsea might easily have been beaten by five or six goals, but for some errant finishing. It takes longer than a week -- and more than two performances -- to become world-beaters, but there were signs of a promising cohesion of talent and spirit. "From the disappointment last week to turning round the performances this week is top class," said Spurs manager
Whether this run can continue at Old Trafford this weekend remains to be seen -- Manchester United are dreadfully mean hosts and Tottenham has not passed a pleasant afternoon there since 1989. Moreover, Spurs fans are more accustomed than most to the sight of a false dawn; rousing themselves to beat rivals with a superiority complex is an altogether different exercise to routinely asserting themselves against opponents with greater energy, if not skill.
However, regardless of whether Spurs can continue this run, this will be the first summer in a long time that a Tottenham manager will have a shopping list he can scribble on the back of his hand. The club has laid out more than $300 million on players in the last four years (net spend around $100 million), but now finds itself only one or two names short of a potent squad.
One of those signings will be a striker who can lead the line effectively in a 4-5-1, the formation that Redknapp has identified to push Spurs toward the kind of defensive prudence that allows Manchester United and Chelsea to challenge year in, year out. None of
Only pruning is really required in a midfield chock-full of talent that has Brazil's
Behind them in goal,
Arsenal, on the other hand, has now conceded its highest tally in eight years, and has two keepers in
The reaction to Arsenal's lack of stamina -- there have been some whispers about sacking Wenger -- is perhaps amplified by the sting of defeat at White Hart Lane and a stunning 3-2 reverse to Wigan on Sunday, but the club has still had a better season than last. However, it is increasingly clear that admiration for Wenger's spendthrift approach is stretched as thin as his young squad. Arsenal fans are keen to see the club's cash spent on proven players. Potential has an expiration date, and this summer may well be it for a number of Wenger's young projects.
"We were maybe not investing because we built the stadium," Wenger told reporters last weekend. "But our financial situation is now becoming stronger and we will be capable of buying the players we need to buy." Reinforcement is needed throughout the spine of Arsenal's squad, and the services of Moroccan striker
As a side note, it's only right to tip our caps to Wigan. Starting the weekend just four points clear of the drop zone,
Yet another clean sheet to report for