Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is the Gulf of North London Closing?

May not seem the most suitable time to pose the question- Spurs league form has been patchy at best. This has generally been put down to their participation in the Champions League, but Harry Redknapp will have to learn how to juggle the dual demands of league and European competition, because, assuming Spurs can't win the Champions League, it does not look like they'll be in it next season.

But, to be fair, despite their frailties, Spurs are threatening Arsenal's supposed status as the most entertaining team in England. As was seen during the World Cup, the prevailing trend of 4-5-1 formations can lead to a lot of negative football, but Spurs' version of it has a striker supported by not only Van Der Vaart, but two fliers on the flanks, and the usual central duo of Modric and Huddlestone is more attack-minded than pretty much any I can think of- Huddlestone does sit, but he's more a quarter-back, a poor man's Xabi Alonso, than a Makalele-style terrier (stupid analogy- Huddlestone is clearly more a St. Bernard than a terrier).

That said, away to Arsenal there is a possibility that the strangely out-of-favour Wilson Palacios will be called on to add a bit more steel.

Arsenal have a strange record at home this season. Some of the wins have been less than routine, and then there were the woeful defeats to Newcastle and West Brom. Of course, Spurs ought to be a different proposition. They don't really have the personnel to play cat and mouse football. Both teams tend to play open football, and each will be confident of hurting the other. Signs are that it could be a thrilling encounter, although a kick-off time of around noon Saturday often leads to yawns of boredom, a poor atmosphere and a listless game.

With the injury crisis that has hit Chelsea, and United still struggling to convince, a win this weekend might have me eating my own pessimistic words. Could Arsenal emerge as leading contenders thanks to the flaws of the top sides? I remember asking similar questions last season, and that's the problem really. People seem to expect Arsenal to succeed almost despite themselves. It is only a fortnight since they capitulated so feebly to Newcastle and that shouldn't be forgotten just because Chelsea lost a couple of games. Ok, the Blues and Man Utd don't look as formidable as previous years, but that was the case last year aswell. Arsenal have to improve to take advantage. If United or Chelsea throw it away, Arsenal still have to catch it.

And watch out for that shnake Gallas...

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