There have been 20 St Totteringham’s Days since Spurs last finished above the Gunners in 1995 – but those bragging rights could be brought to a spectacular end this season.

Wenger
Wenger

Not only could Tottenham end that unwanted streak, but there is a good chance that they could do so by becoming champions.

The ignominy of that scenario would surely be too much for Arsene Wenger to bare as he once again finds himself fighting against poison from Arsenal supporters that are close to breaking point.

It makes Saturday’s north London derby one of the biggest ever fixtures between these two great rivals.

Arsenal travel up the Seven Sisters Road knowing that a defeat would virtually end their title chances, a conclusion many have already reached following embarrassing performances in back-to-back defeats by Manchester United and Swansea.

It is bad enough that Arsenal’s own title challenge is crumbling away in a manner that would be shocking were it not for the fact that it happens almost every year.

But it would be doubly worse if, by blowing their best chance to win the league since 2004, Arsenal opened the door for Tottenham.

Wenger has seen off challenges from Spurs before. There was “Lasagne-gate” in 2006 when Arsenal pipped Spurs to the final Champions League place on the last day of the season.

Harry Redknapp’s side were 10 points ahead of Arsenal in 2012 – prompting ‘mind the gap’ taunts from Spurs fans – only for the Gunners to claw it back in the final 12 games of the season.

A year later, Tottenham went seven points clear of Arsenal with a win in the derby that then manager Andre Villas-Boas claimed had left Wenger’s men in a “negative spiral”.

A defeat on Saturday would leave Arsenal six points behind Tottenham and extend the club’s dismal run of form to four defeats in a row in all competitions.

Tottenham look fitter, hungrier, better organised, more focussed, more together – the list could go on. All Arsenal can really boast over Spurs right now is the 60,000 seater Emirates Stadium that was supposed to guarantee years of dominance of English football.

Arsenal, for their part, lack leadership, have been tactically naive and so-called star players are underperforming. It is the poor mentality that has angered fans the most, the sense that they are chokers.

In a season in which Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have all struggled enormously, Wenger has no excuses if his side fail to take this golden opportunity.

The door has been opened for Arsenal and if they allow it to slam in their faces, then Wenger must step aside. If he cannot win the league this season, he never will again.

Pochettino is the 11th permanent Tottenham manager since Wenger arrived at Highbury 19-and-a-half years ago, but he might finally be the man to see off the Frenchman.

Wenger has spoken in the past about how he might have stepped down had Arsenal not beaten Hull in the FA Cup final in 2014 to end a nine-year trophy draught.

Well the same must surely apply this season if he allows Spurs to overtake his team and win the title.

Wenger’s excuse for failing to win the title for the last 12 years has mainly revolved around the greater resources of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.

What could the reason be this time? Arsenal’s £192 million wage bill is more than £80m greater than Tottenham’s and £130m more than Leicester’s.

Ultimately, it comes down to coaching, to tactics, to the mentality of the squad and the club. All are Wenger’s responsibility.

While Arsenal have been content to stand still, finish in the top four and milk their loyal fans for profit in recent years, Tottenham have been striving to improve, closing in to the stage where they are now ready to leave Arsenal behind.

To make matters worse for Arsenal, they will be without goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is out with a calf injury and will be replaced by the considerably inferior David Ospina, while their best defender Laurent Koscielny is also sidelined.

Arsenal will also have to find a way to break through the meanest defence in the country with a forward line in dreadful form. Olivier Giroud will be looking to end a 10-match goal draught, Theo Walcott has netted just twice in his last 22 appearances while Alexis Sanchez has not scored in the Premier League since mid-October.

It is up to Wenger to change the tide and the north London derby on Saturday is his last chance to save Arsenal’s season – and perhaps his own job.

 

Source: Goal.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.