When you collect three points from your nearest rivals it’s always a wonderful feeling, but on Sunday it was even sweeter thanks to the manner of our victory. Tottenham Hotspur exposed every thing that is wrong with the toothless, spineless and totally out of touch modern day Arsenal team. As Spurs fans we have endured many days where those adjectives could have applied to us, but no more. North London is ours and an automatic Champions League place, ours to lose.
In recent times when Spurs have entered the derby with the favourites tag, it has been start of an emphatic implosion. The last two have seen us throw away leads, concede 10 goals and have two players sent off, we may have claimed to be the best but until Sunday evening we had yet to prove it.
The North London derby, which as far as I am concerned, is the London derby started at an incredible speed. The Gunners attempted to blow us away with pace and movement, but they no longer possess the firepower to implement this. The players they used to rely on have departed or are now bronze statues. Modern day Arsenal is an epicentre for Euro trash and mediocre British players who are better at sound bites than actually playing. Spurs gave Arsenal a painful demonstration at White Hart Lane that they don’t just have outstanding attackers, but they have the rearguard to match.
As the team news broke many Spurs fans felt the sidelining of Steven Caulker was harsh, but AVB is proving time and again, that he picks a team to perform a job not to meet the sentimentality of the crowd. Yes Caulker played well against West Ham, but against an allegedly more dynamic strike force in Oliver Giroud and Theo Walcott, the Belgian Jan Vertonghen would be more suited.
AVB was proven to be correct as Vertonghen delivered a faultless performance; it was like watching what Ledley King could have been if he had been bestowed knees and a team. Throughout the 96 minutes Vertonghen made countless interceptions, last minute challenges and alongside Michael Dawson, made a mockery of the £20million plus combination at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
Across midfield Mousa Dembele recaptured the early season drive and focus that makes him such a unique central midfielder. The Belgian has suffered of late due to Sandro’s injury and his own niggling hip concerns, but the way he glided past Jack Wilshere and co was thrilling. Thankfully the injury that forced him off looks to be minor; he should feature in our Europa League clash with Inter on Thursday.
Pre-game the talk had been of one man destroying Arsenal on his own, but Sunday was a prime example that we are anything but a one man team. Gareth Bale finished a beautiful team goal for the first, and then was a bystander for the second. His overall performance was good, but in terms of Man of the Match, he was quite rightly not a consideration.
One player who justifiably could have claimed this honour was Glyfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic midfielder has had a difficult time at Spurs this season. Initially seen as the Rafa Van der Vaart replacement, he struggled with the expectations, but on Sunday he gave us something that VDV never could, 96 minutes of work, graft and defensive discipline.
Van der Vaart was undoubtedly a glorious player, capable of deft touches and beautiful goals, but there was always the feeling it was Rafa first the team second. When the Dutch man was called upon to sacrifice his legs for the team, he very rarely did.
North London is ours and an automatic Champions League place, ours to lose.
In the corresponding fixture last year, it was VDV’s poor tracking that brought about Arsenal’s undeserved equaliser, yesterday Sigurdsson never lost his focus. The former Swansea midfielder created the first goal and was involved in the second; it was his challenge on Santi Carzola that set Spurs on the counter. Throughout the game he was comfortable helping out BAE, switching with Bale and dropping in alongside Scott Parker and Dembele when needed. After his performance against West Ham and now Arsenal, its clear that Sigurdsson has picked a great time of the year to find some form.
After the catastrophic end to last season, its too early to start using TFL’s famous warning annoucement, but one factor we can use to gloat is that there was only one team on show at White Hart Lane. Spurs have evolved into a team willing to fight and play for each other every single game, not just when they feel like it. As Tottenham fans we are used to the occasional player lifting our sprits, but never before on a consistent basis has the entire first team. Last season our end to 2011/start of 2012 was meant to be as good as it gets, but once again have been proven to be deluded Spurs fans, there is more to come.
AVB and his staff deserve a lot of credit, we are seven points clear of fifth, two behind second place and not once this season has our first choice XI played. Belief is growing and its showing both on and off the pitch.