07 November 2015

Open Letter to Tottenham Hotspur

Dearest Tottenham,
Let me begin by saying this post might be considered apostasy among Arsenal supporters, because they find it in the appropriate levels of scorn, derision, or "Scum" bashing. Don't get me wrong. I'm a Gooner through and through and have been since the age of seven. I just don't buy as much into it the hatred of our rivalry as much as I supposedly should. It's not like I'm missing for reasons why. I've turned my footballing hate on other, bigger targets more truly deserving of it. Chelsea, for example.

I'll even concede that your side has a point dating way back to 1919. Setting aside the murky accusations of bribery (for which no credible evidence has been presented, which is not the same as saying there's no evidence to be found), promoting Arsenal to the First Division from fifth place in the Second Division while relegating Tottenham was bound to fuel a fair amount of fury. However, that's almost 100 years ago, and only eleven after Tottenham itself was promoted in similar fashion.

Moving forward closer to the present, I'll also concede that you have a point about our moving around. I love history and tradition, and it would be hypocritical of me to overlook Tottenham's longer-standing claim on North London. On the other hand, our time in North London does date back to 1913, so if one side is going to put to 1919, it's only fair of them to permit me to point to 1913. We've largely had the upper hand since the North London Derby started, but I want to set aside the history to get to my original point.

I've written before of my admiration of Tottenham's ability to compete with clubs with more financial resources, larger stadiums, and the allure of Champions League play. By rights, and on paper, there should be a much wider gap between us and you, consider the various financial advantages we've enjoyed. After all, if there's one thing you can count on Gooners to complain about, it's the financial doping that has allowed clubs like Chelsea and Man City to dominate the Prem for most of the last decade. We can't pretend that we're somehow punching above our own weight in brave David-vs.-Goliath battle. We're not Goliath, but we're certainly not David.

Away from the bigger picture and on to the pitch, Pochettino seems to have this squad very well organised. Gone, it seems, are the days when it looked like your goal difference would hover somewhere between +2 and -1 all season. There's a new defensive solidity emerging, and, even if the offense is clicking on all cylinders just yet, that solidity has led to some impressive results. When both components click, as they did against Man City, well, I don't want to think about it, to be honest.

Some day, maybe Gooners and Spuds can hold hands and sing kumbaya. Not anytime soon, though. Certainly not Sunday.

If you've read this far, you might be interested in a chance at picking up winning some swag. In the comments-section, simply claim one of the six lettered cells below.  If Joe comments, "Joe wants A" and a Gunner scores to that area, you'll win £10. A second goal gets you a pre-order of Football Manager (to be shipped later in November when it's actually out). A third goal scored there? Your choice of a 2016 Arsenal jersey (home, away, or third). See more of the rules below...

  • Each reader is only allowed one square, no multiples.
  • Entries will not be accepted from blog owner, contributor or employees of Paddy Power.
  • Squares will be allocated to the first 6 people to comment on available squares.
  • The BBC’s definition of which square the ball went into is final, this can be found on BBC Football news http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/results.
  • Prizes are subject to availability.
  • Only one prize per square.
  • Only the first 5 goals are counted.      
  • UK entries only.
  • If the match score is 0-0 the first to comment on the original post will win the booby prize, a Danny Dyer Football Foul-Ups DVD.