02 May 2016

Open Letter to Bottlin'ham—er, Tottenham: yes, we hate Chelsea, too...

First things first, let's all congratulate Leicester on a wondrous, glorious Prem title. They've fought hard and won it well, and no one outside of Hollywood could have written a better fairy-tale than this—other than to have let the Foxes win it outright at Old Trafford, denizen of the dominant for so many years, rather than having to wait on results elsewhere. Even if Tottenham's hopes for a Prem title were razor-thin at best going in, we at Arsenal understand how it feels to let something that was oh-so-close slip through one's fingers. I won't go so far as to suggest that I was gunning (catch the pun, eh?) for you to win the Prem, but there's just enough in this one to let us commiserate—if you're willing.

Let's get the schadenfreude out of the way. How did you lot go up 0-2 at Stamford Bridge only to finish 2-2? You did know that Chelsea had nothing to play for other than pride? Mark Clattenburg seemed bound and determined to erase in one match any accusations of conspiracy by issuing nine cautions, several of which could have if not should have been send-offs. How Tottenham finished with all eleven on the pitch leaves me gobsmacked—especially when I consider the sending-offs that Arsenal endured against Chelsea. Look. I get it: the urge to gouge and injure those Chavvies is well-nigh irresistible. Still, you have to take the high-road...or at least look like you've taken it. For what it's worth, Dembélé might face a retrospective ban. There are some calling for Tottenham to incur a point-deduction, which strikes me as a bridge too far.

There must be enormous stress at your end of things, what with Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, and Man City slouching towards Gomorrhah. Heck, even we at our end have slumped and limped our way towards the finish-line, desperately staving off the envious enemies. At a risk of invoking your wrath, I might suggest that it's you we've worked so hard to stave off? I have to give credit where credit's due: whereas we've spent a bit to upgrade our squad, you've been shrewder, selling off crucial commodities (Modric and Bale) and reinvesting wisely. The key difference, though, might be in the managerial end. Pochettino seems like a mighty upgrade over Sherwood, Villas-Boas, Redknapp, or the baker's dozen of others who have faced off against Arsène. Would you believe that there are some Gooners who believe that the club takes its name from the manager? Sad but true.

As to the bigger picture, I suppose that I'm supposed to talk up the chance of Arsenal finishing above Tottenham. Your draw does, after all, resurrect the prospect. For one, I have to say that I'm almost as eager to see this streak end as I was to see our trophy-drought end. I know that our clubs have a special little rivalry, but for us to pin our hopes and dreams on finishing above Tottenham strikes me as a bit misplaced. Ours is the bigger stadium, ours are the higher ticket prices, ours has been the higher wage-packet, and yet we find ourselves year after year locked in a death-grip with a club with a smaller stadium, lower ticket prices, and a lower wage-packet. For as much as we at this end crow and crab about being outspent only to hold our own, well...

This might sound sacrilegious to some Gooners, but, should Tottenham finish above Arsenal, I'll have to tip my hat to you. In a season in which the other "big" clubs faltered and stumbled by degrees, we at Arsenal should have seized that brass ring. We let it slip. It's taken a miraculous season from Leicester to deny Tottenham the Prem title. More's the pity.

And yet...

There are still two matches to play. We travel to the Etihad before hosting Aston Villa. You host Southampton before traveling to St. Mary's Stadium. Tricky. tricky. We're still locked in a death-grip. Long may we enjoy the embrace...