When will we celebrate St Totteringham’s Day?
St Totterngham’s Day Dictionary Definition – The phrase has been around for so long it is in the book!
St Totteringham’s Day is the day when Arsenal fans celebrate the fact that Tottenham can no longer catch Arsenal in the League. It is a movable feast, but usually falls in March, April or May. It is the day to collect on bets made by over-optimistic Spurs fans in the close season who think that “this is the year”.
Having kept up with some of the transfer speculation involving our North London ‘rivals’ I can honestly say that I’m not currently worried about them ahead of the new season.
I’ll actually go as far as to say that St Totteringham’s Day could come earlier next year. Now bear in mind that I’m not a particularly superstitious person, so I’m not worried about ‘jinxing’ our season, but for those of you who are I will say this; my personal opinion on where spurs are in comparison to us at this stage, (early July) will not affect the first team any way, shape or form, so please don’t worry. Obviously these things are subject to change for better or worse. If they go out and sign Messi, (an impossible example to demonstrate a point) I will of course change my opinion.
Tim has already written a couple of superb blogs on the battle for 5th place and I implore you to read them, not just because they mirror my own position on where both Spurs and Liverpool currently are, but also because they’re good reads.
It goes without saying that we expect a title challenge this season. By the same token it can also be said that we expect our ‘rivals’ in white to finish 5th or 6th. It wasn’t so long ago that they were genuine rivals. We spent several seasons in real danger of being caught during our darkest days of financial constraint, while they spent with relative freedom. Now however the natural order has been restored and I’ve not heard a peep even from optimistic Tottenham fan about how they’ll finally finish above us this season.
That’s because in previous seasons they had an almost comparable squad to us. There can be no denying that the likes of Bale, Modric, Van der Vaart, and Defoe were quality players. We had our share of class too, but the point is that a combined 11 would have contained a disturbing equilibrium. This is no longer the case.
Despite Spud fans claiming that Ryan Mason is better than Jack Wilshere and declaring Eriksen the king of playmakers, the reality is that Wilshere would walk into their starting 11 but isn’t an automatic pick for ours, and Özil would walk into any team in the world. When I look at their starting 11 for the last game of the season I will admit that there is player or two who would improve our squad, but now that we’ve signed Cech, perhaps only one who could improve our starting 11. Harry Kane had a good season, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against premier league defences now that they’ve had time to scout him. Will he be considered better than Giroud in May next year?
Hugo Lloris would previously have walked into our number 1 position, but as I said before, Cech has put a stop to that. I know that an argument could be made about replacing Mertesacker with Vertonghen, however we utilise Per’s height and the Belgian is a little too short to partner Koscielny effectively.
I won’t go into too much detail regarding their forward players, simply because there’s no point in even comparing Chadli to Alexis or Lamela to Theo or Ramsey, but needless to say I feel a combined 11 at it stands would contain no more than 2 or 3 spurs players if I was in a very generous mood. The harsh reality is that they missed the boat when it came to overtaking us as the dominant force in north London. They had two opportunities. First when we had severe financial restrictions and had players like Chamakh and Gervinho leading the line, (while they had Bale & Modric) and then when our restrictions were starting to ease, but they wasted the 85 million they got for Bale on rubbish like Paulinho and Soldado.
Their current squad is a good one, a Europa League kind of good. They will still struggle against the top four teams and slip up against the sides around them. They still don’t have quite enough quality to play badly and still win. They don’t have it in them to surpass 70 points. For that reason I feel like St Totteringham’s day could come earlier this coming season than it did last. They haven’t improved but we already have.
Last season they finished 11 points behind us and with a massively inferior goal difference of plus 5. (Ours was plus 35). So far I’ve not seen a reason or signing that makes me think that they will improve on that. To go one step further they may even get worse off if they sell Lloris, (if United sell De Gea and want a replacement).
Kane might get better. He might not. Eriksen may add more goals to his game, but he may not. Rose is a quality player but how much can he improve? They conceded 53 goals last season and I’ve not seen them go out and sign Sergio Ramos or Mats Hummels so I don’t think they’ll drastically improve defensively.
Ultimately if there is a world class player available who could move them up a level, why would they want to go to spurs? I’ve no doubt that they would have loved to have bought Alexis, but I’ve also got no doubt that choosing between Arsenal or Spurs is like choosing between steak or spam (or Champions League or Europa).
There’s one more thing that must be taken into consideration. They’re building a new stadium which they hope to move into in time for the 2018-19 season. It will be very interesting to see how they fare with financial restrictions. The new TV money will be a massive help, one which Wenger did not have when The Emirates was being built, but they’ll still need to tighten their purse strings somewhat. This transfer window may be the last one where they can spend big for a while, but they simply don’t have enough money or the pulling power to buy the players that would improve them to our level.
Not now, not ever.