25 February 2013

West Ham 2-3 Spurs: Bale's Brace rescues Spurs

After last week's tribulations, it's hard to imagine things going a whole lot better than they have this week: we won, Chelsea lost, Everton lost, and Spurs, well Spurs ended up winning on a goal from Bale in the 90th minute. Tough break for West Ham Oh well. If we're going to climb the table, it'll have to come down to us, not other teams doing us favors.

For all of the hand-wringing we have subjected ourselves to, and for all of the plaudits Spurs have garnered for how spectacular their form has been--yes, yes, Gareth Bale can run fast and score goals when he remains upright rather than falling all over himself when a defender exhales too loudly--isn't it nice to see that, after today's match at West Ham, our lovely London neighbors are still only a few points ahead of us? While they seem to be more consistent than they were last year at this point, and we can't count on them stumbling as they did under Redknapp, the fact remains that a mere four points separate us with eleven games to play, including a key head-to-head match on Sunday.

I'm going to avoid the venom that sometimes poisons the Spurs-Arsenal debate. We all know the history and the rivalry and all of that, and I'll celebrate a good St. Totteringham's Day with the best of them, but I just don't buy into the rather-pathetic vitriol that goes back and forth. They're rivals and the derbies matter, but, frankly, beating them is just as satisfying as beating Man U or Newcastle or Wigan.
See? 4th place trophies do exist!

Back to the matter at hand. Perhaps it's revealing of each club's ambitions or status that such similar positions  in the table provoke such different responses from pundits and fans. Arsenal has been one of the Big Four along with Chelsea, Liverpol, and Man U, for what that's worth, and a top-four finish has been one of our hallmarks for most of the last twenty years. Check arsenalist for a history of tables. Yes, it has been some time now since we hoisted a trophy, but Spurs' trophy case is hardly overflowing--they have a League Cup trophy from 2008, yes, but we have to travel all the way back to 1991 to find their next one, the FA Cup. I don't remember whom they beat to get to that final. Honestly. This year has seen Villas-Boas lauded for steering Spurs so well while Wenger is raked mercilessly over the coals. If they're doing so great--and it's true that they haven't lost a Prem game since December 9th--why are they only four ahead of us?

Sunday's trip to White Hart Lane will of course be huge. Win, and we're back to a one-point difference. There's a long week ahead, with only a midweek FA Cup match for Chelsea against Middlesboro to distract us. Time to catch up on some thumb-twiddlin', it would seem.