Despite disappointing defeats for both sides during the week, Saturday’s clash between Tottenham and arch rivals Arsenal could prove to be one of the most historically significant North London Derbies on record. Both teams can undoubtedly be considered significant candidates to win this year’s Premier League title. However, as we consider the long-term trends of the teams (and with Arsenal’s form seemingly in freefall) we ask- Is there a changing tide in North London?
The long-term trends
To truly consider the magnitude of how times continue to change in North London, one must first cast one’s eye back to the initial period in which Arsene Wenger took charge of Tottenham’s fierce rivals Arsenal.
When the Frenchman arrived on English shores in 1996 as the somewhat underwhelming former-manager of AS Monaco (with an even more underwhelming professional career) very few could have predicted just how significant a role that he would have on the English game.
With a strategy that comprised of seeing an end to the ‘booze culture’ that engulfed Highbury at the time and introducing innovative sports science techniques, importing some of the greatest talents that Europe had to offer and implementing a distinctive style of play, Wenger oversaw his Arsenal team develop into a side at the forefront of English and European football; culminating in the ‘invincibles’ of 2003-04. Credit where it is begrudgingly due.Embed from Getty Images
Wenger has been at the helm of Arsenal since 1996
For all of Wenger’s success of his first decade at the helm of the Arsenal ship, the decade following on from the 2006 has seen his side turn into one seemingly in constant upheaval; often floundering and always just managing to keep its head ‘above water’ as it clings on for dear life at the helm of English football’s elite top four. No longer the titanic vessel that it once was.
Whilst the Arsenal ship has seemingly spluttered and stalled over recent years, the men in Lilywhite have seemingly grown from strength to strength; often on the cusp of making a significant splash into the waters of English football. Under the watchful eye of a board of directors with a clear vision of how to lead Tottenham Hotspur into a position of North London supremacy, spearheaded by the savvy Daniel Levy, the disparity between Arsenal and Spurs has grown ever smaller.
Trends since the turn of the millennium
Why Spurs could be on the verge of a period of dominance in north London
In Pochettino, Spurs have possession of one of the hottest young mangerial talents in world football. The manager has oozed class since his arrival and there can be little surprise that the Argentine has been linked with a move to footballing giants Real Madrid.
Pochettino’s skills lie not only in his exceptional man-management skills but also with his world-class coaching capabilities. The former Espanyol defender has instilled a clearly defined style of play within his team, leaving Spurs with the league’s best defensive record married with a goalscoring record that is only bettered by table toppers Leicester City.
Arsenal will, in the not too distant future, have to contest with the potentially painful transition process that must be undertaken when Arsene Wenger finally hangs up his over-sized coat. As any Manchester United fan will willingly testify, such meteoric changes can be particularly damaging- No matter how many millions you are capable of throwing at the problem. If Spurs can hold onto Pochettino for the long-term future then there could be a beautiful future on the horizon.
The playersEmbed from Getty Images
Much like the famed class of 92, Tottenham have developed a team of exceptionally talented youngsters whose technical ability is coupled with an insatiable desire to win. Tottenham have coupled a well-nurtured academy with a host of signings that have settled seamlessly into life at White Hart Lane.
Pochettino’s willingness to trust the academy has seen the likes of Ryan Mason, Danny Rose and Tom Carroll develop into dependable players that have been vital to the team’s wonderful success over the last 18 months. Meanwhile, Harry Kane has grown into a superstar that has set the Premier League alight and won plaudits from the likes of Real Madrid legend Zizou.
Meanwhile, other young English talents have been brought in for an absolute steal. Dele Alli’s arrival from MK Dons in the summer has added a touch of pure elegance to the Tottenham midfield, whilst Eric Dier has continued to mature both physically and technically since arriving from Sporting Lisbon.
If Tottenham can retain this exceptional pool of talent, coupled with the trio of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris, there is no reason that Tottenham cannot be towards the helm of the Premier League for a long time to come.Embed from Getty Images
Tottenham are on the verge of moving into a brand new, purpose built 61,000 capacity stadium, just another example of the club’s continued willingness to go toe-to-toe with their North London rivals. Whilst the transition away from White Hart Lane could be potentially painful, the stadium build highlights the clubs desire to become a long-term member of European football’s elite.
Tottenham’s new stadium can become a pantheon dedicated to the Premier League superstars that adorn the club’s hallowed turf and is a credit to the labours of the members of the board that have turned their vision into a reality. The revenues that the increased volume that the new stadium can present, alongside the colossal sums of money generated by the Premier League’s broadcasting rights, have the potential to generate significant revenue streams to support the clubs burning ambitions over the next few years.
Victory in Saturday’s fixture could prove to be a definitive moment in the struggle for power; a symbolic result that represent more than just a victory in the North London Derby. The long-term trends suggest this is Tottenham’s chance to finally lay claim to the mantel of kings of North London, seize the moment boys.
Written by Joe Thomas
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