The only surprise is that Tottenham didn’t ask the Premier League to make this their final home game at the Swamp. Let the away fans destroy the place after the game; “Gentlemen, do your worst”. Levy could have saved a fortune on demolition costs.
A match which assumes some importance beyond the realms of bragging rights for Spurs but not for us. Arsène claimed he’d got his Arsenal back after three consecutive wins. The defeats against Bayern and Chelsea knocked us for six, he said.
“The first Bayern game and the one against Chelsea, were a big knock. For a while we were a bit like a boxer who had been put on the floor twice.
“We lost a little bit, and people interpreted that as the players not caring. No. Maybe it is because they care very much that they were like that. Shocked. We were shocked.
Yes, I understand you were shocked but you don’t have the luxury of that shock lasting for several weeks, as it does every season when things go wrong.
“The turning point is that you have to revolt and say, ’Come on. That cannot go on’.
Well, you can. We’ve said it for a while but nothing’s changing. Or at least not that change.
Dangerman or Danger! Mouse!
Positivespeak is just a stretch away from newspeak.
Yes, the utterances can be baffling, mad, outrageously positive, outrageous detached from reality; sometimes all at once. That’s not the irritation. You can place your own interpretation on the words, put them more succinctly if you like. I would: “We lost two big games as per, were a bit sh*t, scraped a couple of wins but beat Manchester City in a big game and that’s what I’m pinning all my hopes on”.
Which is pretty much what you or I would do. The real menace is when people take them literally, and believe in every syllable. Think of the like the bible. Not meant to be taken on face value but a bedtime story to scare the kids with.
And I’m not sure what anyone expects him to say in public. What’s said to the squad behind closed doors is what matters and getting them fired up for this afternoon is everything. I remember – and this may seem like I’m engaging ‘old fart mode’ – the unbridled joy of 1985 when we went to White Hart Lane around this time of year, won 2 – 0 in a midweek match and ended Tottenham’s faint title hopes.
I don’t remember much of the game, bar the goals and Graham Roberts hilarious penalty miss, but that ecstasy of wrecking their aspirations was outstanding. It’s moments like that which make football. Today has to be the same, surely?
Inspired By The Past or Past It?
We’ve got the same flaky attributes that we had back then, the question is whether we have the desire or belief that we can do it. Spurs are second for a reason; they have one of their periodic strong teams. There’s no hiding away from that, it’s a fact. We’ve got good players but nowhere near as strong a team as it looks on paper; that’s down to the manager.
However, today, if they show the heart, spirit, and desire they need to, Arsenal will win. Bold words, indeed. I put a proviso in there: “if”. Two small letters but a big word.
The outcome may come down to the defence we field. Laurent Koscielny trained yesterday but twenty-four hours earlier, he had a “60%” chance of playing. I presume he will start, if not then Nacho Monreal moves into the centre.
Arsène’s history with three at the back is strained to say the least, as Jonathon Wilson discussed in The Guardian, but the response now was more of desperation than of a true believer in the way Conte is. Wenger belatedly moved with the times not leading the field.
If it brings us three points today, will anyone care for twenty-four hours? A shaft of sunlight into these overcast Arsenal skies.
If change in defence is the least welcome aspect of today, swapping Olivier Giroud for A.N. Other is surely on the cards. The ‘new’ formation is not suiting him. Frustration overspilled at Wembley, after an anonymous performance at the Riverside. Options are limited; Welbeck has pace but strikes me as a better wide forward than leading the line, which leaves Alexis, which may suit the Chilean better.
It leaves the line-up:
Cech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Monreal; Özil, Welbeck; Sanchez
Personally, I’d also move Ox into the middle in place of Ramsey but I don’t think that’s going to happen this season but for next? It’s on the cards.
Whatever the choices he makes, a win is the only outcome we want. Not a draw, not defeat; victory. We’ve won as many league titles at White Hart Lane as Tottenham; winning the last North London Derby there would top that list off.
As you wait for the game, there is a new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox with the second in the series, Jukebox Classics. This time it’s the turn of The Jam, with the originals of the cover versions they played. And a healthy mix of 60s mod and soul it is too. Click here to listen.
Enjoy the match where’er you are watching it.