Tottenham have work to do to overcome Arsenal
It was always going to be a matter of time before someone brought Arsene Wenger’s North London superiority to a sad end, and on Sunday, so Mauricio Pochettino emphatically did with his second win over the Frenchman in six derbies.
An honest assignment would suggest that it wasn’t a mere win, it was outclassing of the highest order, it was a reality check delivered with disdain, an infliction of pain. The White Hart Lane, therefore, bid farewell to Arsenal in style, having witnessed a couple of their 13 title triumphs being celebrated on its now soon-to-be dusted turf. Fitting for one, fearsome for another.
Understandably, there are unbefitting unfathomable calls for North London to be painted white and blue as Spurs celebrate a supremacy that has taken two excruciating decenniums to emerge. At least a part of London is dubbing the latest of Arsenal’s predictable debacles as a “power shift”, meaning the dominance has changed residences and Mauricio Pochettino is the new Arsene Wenger, i.e., the King of North London.
Arsene Wenger, whose post-match conferences are surprisingly the stuff of parodies than sensible press conferences these days, did say something rather agreeable on the very subject:
“Let’s be honest, I answer the question of [power] shift for 18 consecutive years. Nothing changes in that,” said the Arsenal manager. “And you cannot say the weight of one year has the weight of 20.
“When we finish 20 years above them, it’s not important and now suddenly it becomes important. Yes, it matters – we want to be stronger than Spurs but we want to be stronger than everybody. The priority for us is to finish in the top four.”
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When further asked if Arsenal are a bigger club than Tottenham Hotspur anymore, the Professor had a rejoinder to come up with.
“No I think Arsenal are a much smaller club and we are absolutely terrible”.
It’s very easy to be excited by Tottenham’s new-found success and suggest a shift in power, and it’s just as easy to not overlook the twenty years that the Gunners have dominated their rivals for, a period during which they have won three Premier League titles and six FA Cups – that’s how Arsenal established their reign in the first place.
Were we to agree with the dominant narrative – an idea that’s not even tempting – then the question must be asked: What backs such an opinion up? Where is the silverware to show for it? Pochettino’s side are a million miles better than Arsenal, that’s not even a debate, but is that enough to prove a Tottenham power shift? Does one year of a higher league position outshine 20 years of such success as the Spurs have not even come close to achieving? If the answer to you isn’t a plain and simple no, you know who you support.
If league positions reflected one’s superiority or inferiority, then by that logic, a lot of clubs qualify to be the beneficiaries of the concept of a power shift, at least on (and in) paper(s), if not otherwise. How much of a power shift has Manchester seen despite Manchester City’s league finishes over Manchester United?
The Reds haven’t managed to go better than their city rivals since 2012/13, yet the Blue Moon has failed to achieve a superior status because of what United have done in the Premier League era over a long period of time. If four years of City’s on-field dominance haven’t changed the scenario in Manchester, how is that happening within a year in London? Surely, the suggestion is flawed.
That’s not to impugn Tottenham Hotspur’s current status as the better team in North London. On the field, they are an exceptional unit, but to take over the reins of their territory, a similar transition has to be overseen off field too, i.e., building the new stadium and matching Arsenal’s finances. The Gunners sit as one of the richest clubs in the world, which means they can fulfill the wage demands of world-class players as well as signing them, but can Spurs afford that? The answer being what it is, the force clearly rests with one and only club here.
All in all, the baton isn’t passed overnight by a beating a side that never turned up. It takes years of consistency before the master must give up and let his assistant dictate terms. For all of Tottenham’s success, they are still not the master. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Who knows what the next year holds?