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Power Shift or Timetable Deception
A look at the North London rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs
Written on 11 March, 2013 by Studentgooner.
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Tottenham are getting better. Arsenal are not. This is seemingly the case every year, with articles being written saying that "this year" is different for Spurs, and the power has shifted. The phrase "mind the gap" springs to mind. Being effectively 13 points behind in February and clawing it back was one of the biggest highlights of last season for Arsenal fans. Spurs always seem to find a way of choking one way or another, whether it be due to fatigue from Redknapp choosing the same team every week, or some dodgy Lasagne. Arsenal seemed to hit their best form in the last push for top four (3rd needed in the end) last season. Last season the bulk of the responsibility came down to the captain and best player, Robin Van Persie. Comparisons are easily made (as far as carrying the team) between Bale and Van Persie. Bale could conceivably be the difference for Spurs and drag them over the finishing line to finish above Arsenal and make Champion's league. Tottenham Hotspur had their longest ever unbeaten run come to an end. It was 12 games long (only 37 away from the invincibles). Looking at it game by game, they only faced 3 teams in the top half of the table (Arsenal, Swansea and Manchester United), all of which at home. Looking at the last 13 games, where Spurs have been "in form", and compare them to the Arsenal results in the same fixtures (including being home or away, and Arsenal vs Spurs at either ground as the fixture), you will see that Arsenal are yet to play three of the games, have won 7, drawn 1 and lost 2. That is 22 points. Spurs have won 6, drawn 3 and lost 1. That is 21 points. This is an Arsenal that have not been performing as well as in other seasons, admittedly, and the selling of RVP has had much more of an immediate impact that any other recent departures. Of the recent games that have been played, it is difficult to suggest that Spurs have become the dominant team in North London. Here are the games mentioned broken down by Arsenal's results: Arsenal lost to: Swansea (Spurs beat), Norwich (Spurs drew) Arsenal drew to: Sunderland (Spurs beat) Arsenal beat: Aston villa (Spurs beat), Stoke (Spurs drew), QPR (Spurs drew) Newcastle (Spurs beat) West Ham (Spurs beat) Arsenal/Tottenham (Spurs beat) Liverpool (Spurs lost) Arsenal have not played: Reading-home (Spurs beat) Man United-home, (Spurs drew) and West Brom- away (Spurs beat) "The table doesn't lie" is technically true, but not always reflective of form/ likeliness of finishing in that position. Looking at Spurs' remaining fixtures, they have to play 5 teams in the top half of the table, including Chelsea, Everton, Man City, and Stoke away. They also have more Europa League to play, increasing the likeliness of crumbling under number of games. Arsenal have to face just 3 teams in the top half of the table, including Man United and Everton. Arsenal have one game in hand to overturn a 7 point deficit. Winning the game in hand would take it down to a 4 point gap, with an easier run in. It is also highly conceivable that both teams will manage to make Champion's League, with Chelsea falling out of the top four... just like last season. (Chelsea also have a difficult run in, also facing 5 top half of the table teams, including Tottenham, Liverpool, Man United and Everton, while still being in the Europa League) The main difference between this and last season is, bar a crazy Champion's League second leg in Munich, no English team will win the Champion's league this year. The difference between third and fourth is more insignificant than it was last year. However, having to perform 2 more qualification matches is a needless risk for both teams, who are striving for 3rd, but would take 4th. With 30 points left to fight for, there is nothing to say this year can't be the same as all other recent Wenger seasons, leaving Arsenal ahead of Spurs and in the Champion's League. Mind the gap. Thanks for reading, don't forget to follow

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