17 November 2017

Pick Your Poison: Harry Kane? Mike Dean? (A Tottenham Preview...)

For the first time in living memory, in what is surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse, we finished below Tottenham. There was no St. Totteringham's Day. London, it seemed, would be white. Somehow, however, the sun still rose. Pigs did not acquire any aerial abilities. Hell, sources, say, did not freeze over. Certain realities, it is true, must be acknowledged. We cannot blithely (arrogantly?) assert our superiority. Truth be told, Tottenham look like the better squad at the moment, and we go invite our new overlords on Saturday if not with open arms then at least with eyes wide open.

Among other issues, Tottenham seem to have the stronger squad with a British core that was once the pipe-dream of Arsène. Players like Alli, Kane, Trippier, and Dier have done more for their clubs than our British players have—what's left of them, anyway. Pochettino has become one of the best managers in the Prem, getting that squad to adapt to the larger pitch at Wembley, thrashing both Dortmund and Real Madrid along the way. It seems as even Mourinho has turned his petty jealousy away from Arsène and onto Pochettino. Interesting times, indeed.

When you contrast their form over the last 16 months or so, it's hard to stave off a sinking feeling in the guy. We've hardly looked convincing even when we've managed to win in recent outings, and even if we're only four points off of Tottenham's at the moment, there feels like a larger chasm opening up between us and them. There are open and oppressive questions about key players in our squad, about our manager, about our future. If the once-unthinkable happens—if Tottenham can win at The Emirates—it will be even harder to resist imagining even-more calamitous futures.

Making matters worse, we have every Gooner's most-hated referee presiding: Mike Dean. If the Tottenham players can't find a way to beat us, well, by golly, they can probably count on Dean to do them as many favors as are necessary to secure the result. While we've actually done pretty well with him in recent outings, it has to feel like he's trying to lull us into a false sense of security more than anything else. At a risk of sounding paranoid, don't be surprised if Dean makes Oliver's performance at the Etihad look practically perfect in every possible way. For us to finish with eleven on the pitch might count as a minor miracle.

If there's any shred of hope to cling to, it's that injuries may impede Tottenham's progress. They look certain to be without Alderweireld and Wanyama and might also be without Lloris and Alli. Kane is nursing a hamstring injury, but to hope that he'll miss out is just that: hope. We of course have injury-concerns of our own. We have to hope that our lads realise everything that's at stake. That four-point gap is not in and of itself insurmountable, nor would our season be over if we allow it to grow to seven. We do need very badly, however, to find our fotting and rell off a run of positive results, and there's no better time than against our lovely neighbors to the north.

LAST THREE
  • Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal (30.04.2017).
  • Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (06.11.2016).
  • Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal (05.03.2016).
FACTFILE
  • Arsenal are undefeated in their last six matches at home against Tottenham.
  • Arsenal have won their last ten home matches in the Prem.
  • Prior to their loss at Old Trafford, Tottenham were undefeated in four away matches in the Prem.
INJURIES
  • Cazorla is of course still unavailable; Mustafi, Welbeck, Ospina, and Giroud face late fitness-tests.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
  • Čech; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny; Kolašinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerín; Sánchez, Özil, Lacazette.
PREDICTION

  • Despite the ominous feelings among the fanbase, the lads in the squad know that they have something to prove. That, and a bit of uncertainty in Tottenham's backline, should provide our attack with the openings it needs.
  • Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham.