Tottenham can bounce back
In the past, Spurs have suffered at their own hands by lacking the confidence to retaliate to a bad loss. The last two times Spurs lost games, against Manchester City and Barcelona respectively, they have won every other game. In the seventeen days following their 4-2 loss at the emirates, Spurs won games convincingly at Southampton and Leicester, took Barcelona to the sword to secure the draw they needed to progress in the champions league, and showed resilience to secure three points at Burnley in the dying moments. All this culminating in a boisterous, clinical, and timely win at the Emirates on Thursday.
Tottenham showed Arsenal what club icons look like
Long gone are the days of Henry & van Persie. Or even Jack Wilshire, who was the personification of everything Arsenal - spiteful, nasty, and braggadocios. Instead we saw household names Son Heung-Min, Dele Ali, and the marvellous Harry Kane, step up to show what leaders look like. Each had speculation around the limits of their potential early in their careers. With Sonny’s name held firmly in the hearts of Tottenham fans, and his rise to legend in his native South Korea, he has emerged one of the most brilliant and versatile attackers in Europe. Dele Ali, on the other hand, has been met with criticisms till this day by other fans and pundits, decrying his ability and true potential amongst the English footballing greats. It took premier league legends Steven Gerard until he was 27, and Frank Lampard till 26 to score 75 club goals, by no means an easy feat. Dele, 22 years old, scored his 75th against Arsenal to win the game. He is already a legend in the minds and hearts of Spurs fans, but soon the rest of the footballing world will have to acknowledge the emerging phenomenon that is Dele Alli. As for captain Harry, the boyhood Spurs fan’s goals speak for themselves. But his level-headed, kind, and hungry personality spearheads the philosophy of this current Tottenham team, perseverance and belief in his own ability makes Harry the hero Spurs have been waiting years for.
Arsenal were stunned silent by Spurs, and couldn’t back up a word of bragging
After the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal in the premier league, most Spurs fans kept quiet, and shuffled about office buildings all over London, whilst Arsenal were having it large. You would have thought that it was a cup final, with the sheer amount of dressing room selfies and tweets of “North-London is red!” A DVD style commentary from the players, and youngster Mattéo Guendouzi hanging out of his car window as it sped away from a screaming horde of fans, didn’t do much to quell that comparison.
Meanwhile, the staff and players at Tottenham did their best to assure fans that this wasn’t their last meeting, but perhaps more significantly, that more important games were on the horizon.
However, when Wednesday 19th December came around, all that bragging had to be put back on the table and examined. Arsenal fielded a side significantly closer to their first team than Tottenham’s, with Mauricio Pochettino opting to rest and rotate for the cup competition. But it was the lessons learnt from their recent meeting that made the difference. Arsenal and their fans alike had the trademark smug sense of superiority that bolstered their efforts last time out, allowing them the confidence to bounce back and win 4-2. Spurs maintained the “one game at a time” mentality, but as soon as they got a foothold in via a spectacular Son Heung-Min effort, they pressed Arsenal, and their mouthy fans, into a corner from which they couldn’t escape with any amount of jeering.
All this was surmised perfectly after the game, when the insufferable Piers Morgan stood gawking at the camera in a Spurs shirt, drawing Tottenham’s next opponents in the cup with former Spurs man Peter Crouch.
The Emirates is toxic, and the homeless Spurs showed that
Tottenham have been displaced for months due to the rebuilding of White Hart Lane, so the concept of “home” has been one that Tottenham fans aren’t recently used to. Though they have found great success at their temporary lodgings in Wembley Stadium, the loss to Arsenal in the league should have been a marker for Tottenham that having a home makes all the difference. But Thursday showed cracks in the Emirates’ foundation, as fans began spewing from the stands well before the final whistle. Arsenal fans chanted every vulgarity they could think of and booed every touch of the ball Spurs had. One fan even resorted to throwing a bottle at Dele Alli’s head, which the youngster brushed off with a “2-0” hand gesture back at the livid crowd.
Arsenal Fan TV doesn’t need any more than a mention to roll the eyes of all other football fans, but it is exactly the spiteful and entitled attitudes on display there that surmises the feel of the Emirates. Whilst Unai Emery is making strides to rebuild the footballing side of the club, it is the fanbase that stood out compared to the thousands of Spurs fans who stayed to sing their players’ (and manager’s) praises. As the game ended, the Spurs fans shift in attention towards the club itself was a welcome sight, compared to the insufferable boasting from Arsenal fans the last time the teams faced off. This speaks volumes to the growing disparity between he clubs. Not necessarily on the premier league table, where Arsenal only sit 5 points behind 3rd place Tottenham, but in the ethos of both sets of fans.
For all the progress Emery has made at Arsenal, Mauricio is magic
There is no denying that trying to replace Arsene Wenger at the helm of Arsenal is a difficult job, whose influence will be felt at the club for years to come. But even Spurs fans can concede that Unai Emery should receive praise for his tactical versatility and focus on youth implementation in the first team. But seeing the response from Mauricio Pochettino to the 4-2 defeat last time out only bolstered the already fever pitch passion around the man. Beyond his philosophical overhaul of the Tottenham squad, Pochettino is a humble, charismatic, and optimistic leader. He seems too good to be true to most Spurs fans, who hope beyond hope that Poch continues his legacy at Tottenham well into the future. Whereas Arsenal and Emery are doing a decent job at picking up the pieces of Wenger’s shattered empire, in his nearly 5 years at Tottenham, Pochettino has breathed new life into every aspect of the club. The stakes have never been higher, with Spurs New Stadium costing hundreds of millions to construct, Pochettino opted not to sign a single player in the summer window. But that ambition has been met by the fans, and by the continuously improving squad, who each game look that crucial step closer to becoming a powerhouse in European football.
Without a doubt, Arsenal have the funding and squad quality to be able to back Unai Emery moving forward. But the key distinguishing factor between the development of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal is one Mauricio Pochettino, who holds a trust from the fans that football hasn’t seen since Sir Alex Ferguson. It took Sir Alex four years to win his first trophy as Manchester United manager, and with Pochettino in his fourth currently, winning against Arsenal to move into the Semi-Finals of the EFL Cup could be a key step to securing his legacy. Even with the odds stacked against Pochettino on a financial level, he is already proving that his ethos is running through the veins of Tottenham Hotspur. An influence that was tangible on Thursday night.
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