With all the player statements and fan arguments happening of late, it is still hard to say exactly whether Tottenham have (as Gareth Bale recently suggested) overtaken/caught up with Arsenal.
To be fair, Arsenal do seem to be lacking in quality, tactical ability and the frustrating lack of a ‘plan B’ in those matches where the top teams are expected to grind out three ugly points. Despite these arguable flaws we have still managed narrow wins at Stoke, Sunderland and Aston Villa in recent weeks which has kept us in the race for that hugely valuable champions league spot.
We have Wilshere, Cazorla, Vermaelen and Szczesny who are all in my opinion, world class players. They have Bale, Lloris and Vertonghen who I also rate as being world class.
Bale I feel, (even though it pains me to admit) albeit only slightly) is better than both Santi and Jack and Vertonghen is (at present) on better form than Vermaelen, which some fans say is due to the usually sharp and fine tackling Belgian inheriting the armband from the departed van Persie. I would say that given the quality of the rest of the squad though, we are still pretty even. Another bonus that Arsenal seem to have at the moment is players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, kieran Gibbs, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld who are in my opinion larger in number and more likely to be world class than the prospects Tottenham currently have in their first team/Youth/Reserve squad. Saying that, I really do rate Kyle Walker very highly and fully expect him to become a top class right back when he improves his concentration, tackling and gets some more competition experience under his belt. Also there is the new boy Holtby who can be Huge if he adapts to the EPL the way that most expect him to.
Either way, It’s not the best or worst time to be a Gooner or a Spud these days! Gone are the days of going into the north london derby with a comfortable points cushion in the table and a noticeable advantage on the pitch in terms of squad quality. Nowadays We both have a pretty even level of quality and potential both in terms of players, the stadium Arsenal have finally payed off and the new ground that Tottenham are now fixed to be building in the near future. Yet we also both have weaknesses which are unfortunately known by others and often exploited by teams of less technical ability like Norwich and Stoke.
The ‘Anti Football’ or ‘Park the bus’ type tactics, combined with heavy tackling and rough play are an ever increasingly used method of dismantling our sides. Even though it may be considered ugly or low by many of our fans it has become an extremely effective way of overcoming the large difference in quality and skill that we possess over them.
Given that both teams appear to be on decent runs at the moment there is even a high possibility that we both might qualify for the Champions league at the expense of a somewhat deflated Chelsea team of late with only 7 points taken from their last 5 matches and with only Demba Ba added this January to a side which has gotten used to adding big money signings every season since Roman Abramovich first took charge of the club in a big money buyout from Ken Bates in 2003.
This could keep Arsenal and Tottenham both just as evenly placed heading into the next season as there would be little to choose between in terms of competition level and finances for potential signings, especially considering we have a history of going for many of the same targets in the transfer market and also both have a bad habit of allowing top players to leave for rival teams at the wrong time. Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie for us/Berbatov, Modric for them (and hopefully Bale when the window opens!).
If, as suggested, we do both qualify and therefore both have extra money and Champions League football to offer this season to attract new players to come in and fill the gaps where the previously mentioned teams tend to exploit and where we are weak during injures and suspensions, we should be able to compete both on a hot summer night at the Nou Camp in a Champions League knockout match AND on a cold wet Tuesday night in Stoke for a vital three points in the Premiership. Either way, with Financial fair play regulations apparently planned to be enforced effectively and given the solid financial state of both clubs, the future doesn’t look too bad for either of us. And who knows, It may well be the red and lily white of north London competing for the title in one/two years instead of the red and blue of Manchester currently occupying the top spots in the Premiership this season and last.
One thing’s for sure though; whether he is right or wrong with he’s statements, Bale, along with his teamates are definitely fired up and ready for the fight that usually results towards the tail end of the premier league competition and we need to be just as up for the scrap, if not more so if we want to stand a chance of qualifying for the 16th successive season under Arsene Wenger’s tenure.