Tottenham may not have won the game but watching fragile Arsenal crumble yet again is as good as a victory for this Spurs Fan.
Well. That neatly mirrored our two seasons. Arsenal playing their incisive, attractive football, on the verge of a crucial victory. Spurs, too lax from the off, giving away goals then forced to dig deep.
“2-0 and you f***d it up!” we reminded the Gooners early on.
“Oh it’s so quiet at the Lane!” they shot back at 3-1, cocksure that wouldn’t happen again.
If only they’d listened to their captain. “From 2007 on, I started to say, 'We don't win but we play very well.' And after that, you realise that it doesn't work,” Fabregas told a Spanish sports magazine prior to the game. “You enjoy it, during a part of the season, like this year when we were in four different competitions and you say, 'Here, I have it all.' But then you cannot make the final step.”
Now they’re in nought different competitions and can tot up their trophy haul of recent years on the fingers of Captain Hook’s bad hand. Whether or not we snatch fourth place off the Ewings, we retain the North London bragging rights. The flurry of hilarious texts I used to receive after these derbies has all but died out since Harry took over.
Sure, we too have won nothing this season, but we’ve had a much better time not-winning it. The blessing/curse low of expectations.
It still seems slightly incredible that we not only hosted Inter and AC at the Lane, but knocked them out of the Champions League. When the inevitable finally happened, the players left the pitch to a standing ovation having lost 5-0 on aggregate. When Arsenal drew 0-0 with Blackburn, their fans started hitting each other.
Should Wenger go? He’s found a decent goalkeeper at last – Szczesny kept Arsenal in the game, as did Gomes for us – but must wish he’d held on to Gallas who was once again quietly brilliant for us. Yet Arsene, played by a Gerald Scarfe caricature in a sleeping bag, stubbornly refuses to shell out. I can picture him towards the end of his Emirates days, entrenched, digging deeper and deeper, until one Christmas Day, blackened of mood, he hides his ball just before the truce.
Harry, we can assume, will stay. We’re still in with a shot of fourth, even after that draw, though with Chelsea, Liverpool and the six-pointed City-away yet to come. Ingrained expectations suggest the prospect of success is unlikely, though Great Uncle Hazza’s teams have a way of confounding those.
We need to buy. Fascinating, nail-biting spectacle as that derby was, it highlighted both sides’ shortcomings. We need more than one new striker who can score goals. Pav gets on my t**s in a non-tingly manner. We need more defensive cover – though Assou-Ekotto was my man of the match – especially at right back, plus we need to retain our key players: Modric, Bale and Van der Vaart. Then who knows? At least the uncertainty should prove entertaining.
Arsenal? Fabregas also pointed out to his Spanish magazine that this 2010-11 side is some way removed from the Invincibles. He wasn’t wrong. All I heard was the collective wheeze of a team choking.
“3-1 and you ****ed it up!” Spurs fans chanted delightedly as we filed out of the Lane.
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