Arsenal are sitting on the top of the league right now. But how long can they maintain that?
I know, the first thing people will suggest after seeing such a thing is that we are huge Tottenham Hotspur fans, or just plain anti-Arsenal.
But the reason we are sticking our necks out on this one is an overwhelming supply of omens that suggest that Spurs in the long run will overleap the Gunners and rule North London.
It was 18 years ago that Tottenham Hotspur last completed a domestic league campaign in a superior position to North London rivals Arsenal. The last time it happened, in 1994-95, the top flight still had 22 teams. Arsene Wenger was an unknown manager and Gareth Bale was not even six years old.
Arsenal fans maybe thinking that this is finally their season. With a brilliant start to the season thanks to the marquee signing of Mesut Ozil, Wenger seems to have got it right this season and going by their performances it would be naïve to suggest Arsenal are not title contenders.
However, Tottenham are not that far behind. With Gareth Bale departing to Real Madrid, everybody seemed to write off Spurs. But they have done well in the transfer market and they look a formidable outfit this season.
Arsenal was extremely lucky that they managed to pull off a coup in Mesut Ozil. Keeping him aside, they were miserable in the transfer window. After their Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis publicly announced that Arsenal were ready to take on the financial superpowers of the world, the fans were patiently waiting for a big name signing. They saw a numerous failed bids for a doomed Suarez bid. Discomfort amongst the fans grew so much that they the supporters trust shot off a letter to the Arsenal board asking them to wait before offering a new deal to Wenger, based on his performances and deliverables. Moreover, Wenger almost panic bought when he lodged a bid for Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye for £10 million which was instantly rejected. That period brought back memories of Arsenal buying 3 players on deadline day after Manchester United thrashed them 8-2.
On the other hand, Tottenham have been very smart in the transfer market. Even though they could not offer Champions League football, they still managed to attract stars like Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, Soldado, Erik Lamela and many more. They were all monitored by the big European clubs but Spurs acted on their interests. Plus, the signings of Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli have provided Tottenham with immense depth in their ranks.
DANIEL LEVY-The Aura
Any football fan would be lying if they wished they did not have Daniel Levy as their club’s Chief Executive. His reputation is so powerful especially after the business he did with Real Madrid for Gareth Bale. This hard line negotiator is the prime reason why Tottenham managed to get the price they did for Bale. The strategy employed by him reeked of genius. The breaking down of negotiations, to storming off to finally getting the price he always wanted. Daniel Levy has a sharp business brain and with an increasing knowledge regarding football matters, Spurs are blessed to have him.
He was also credited for the way he tackled the FA when they were considering to approach the then Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp for the England job. Levy had managed to insert a £10 million release clause into Redknapp’s contract which ultimately led the FA to choose Roy Hodgson over Harry. His swift appointment of Franco Baldini as technical director on Andre Villas-Boas’ insistence showed us he is capable of embracing the modern approach to conduct business in football.
On the other hand you have Ivan Gazidis whose reputation is rather meek in comparison to Daniel Levy. His failed approach to bid for Luis Suarez which occupied the majority of the time in the transfer window for Arsenal made him face a lot of flak. Moreover, His plan of letting Higuain go to Napoli came back to haunt Arsenal as they missed out on their priority signing- a striker. It is a little harsh to blame Gazidis because his style of functioning depends on Arsene Wenger who is a hands-on-manager and likes to keep control. However if this transfer window is a testament to the growing changes in football, Arsene Wenger should be ready to become more flexible.
The weakest link in the Arsenal team is their defence. They require two commanding center backs, someone who can control and police the team. With Koscielny and Mertesacker, they have two decent center backs that are shockingly inconsistent. Thomas Vermaelen has found it difficult to hold a place in the starting eleven and looks increasingly likely to depart in the January transfer window in order to cement his place in the Belgian squad for the world cup. The ageing legs of Bacary Sagna do not help Arsenal’s cause either. They lack the attribute of striking fear in the attacker’s mind which was one reason why Arsenal went on to be called “The Invincibles”.
Tottenham too do not have a world class defence. But in comparison to Arsenal they are a few paces ahead. Captain Michael Dawson is highly under rated and has been consistent since last season. Younes Kaboul has been brilliant for them whenever he has been fit and Kyle Walker has received glowing praises for his performances which has seen him called up to the England squad. The fact that they boast the best defensive record in the Premier League right now gives further evidence of Tottenham’s solidity in the back.
GOALKEEPER- Heart of the team
Goalkeepers are actually more important to the team than anyone realizes. Titles have been won on the shoulders of just the goalkeeper. They can inspire a team to go out and attack fearlessly while giving them confidence that he will take care of everything in the back. Oliver Kahn, Edwin Van Der Sar, Peter Schmeichel , Iker Casillas, and Buffon are some examples of Goalkeepers who have inspired their team to glory.
Hugo Lloris, the French captain is among the very best in the world let alone the Premier League. He was touted as the potential replacement to Van Der Sar when he retired but things did not work out. The 26 year old has yet to reach his peak and with top drawer performances every week it is just a matter of time till Barcelona or Real Madrid or some other European club comes calling.
Szczesny's rise to number one has been met with some criticism, though. Despite boasting an impressive catch rate, he has been guilty of poor concentration at times; his lowly 63 per cent saves to shots ratio offers more damning evidence of his tendency to lose focus.
The polish goalkeeper is no doubt a quality keeper but Arsenal need a world class product to man their goals. Look at Manchester United, Man City, Chelsea or even Liverpool for that matter. It is a fact that Arsenal has the poorest keeper among them all.
Apart from Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Gunners lack depth in their attack. Oliver Giroud is in the form of his life. But if he gets injured, Arsenal have to rely upon Nicklas Bendtner. God bless the gunners if such a situation arises because the Danish international has a reputation of not finding the back of the net. The irony for a striker.
Tottenham Hotspur boast of a rather fierce attacking line. They have a world class talisman leading their line in the likes of Roberto Soldado, combined with the brilliance of Andros Townsend who seems like England’s next superstar.
Add to this the “replacement” for the brilliant Gareth Bale- Erik Lamela, is another potent weapon Spurs have under their sleeves. And no, the list goes on with Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli thus giving Spurs a far more better looking attacking shape than Arsenal.
Obviously Arsenal are ruling the roost in the Premier League right now. But this is from a long term perspective. Spurs have a capable young manager in AVB while Arsene Wenger is one of the best in the business but for how long can he go on? Moreover, He is still to pledge his future to Arsenal leading to conspiracy theories suggesting that another dry season and Wenger might resign.