Winning the North London derby is one of the best feelings there is if you’re a fan of Arsenal or Tottenham.
Forget ‘bragging rights’ and the other cliches that they throw up around football. It’s the raw animalistic emotion that matters when it comes to derby day: an irrational hatred that doesn’t get any duller with the passing years.
Indeed, Arsenal are on a bit of a high at the moment. Beating an abject Everton wasn’t exactly proof of a team who can crack the top four and win two trophies come the end of the season. It’s not evidence of much of a revival. But it did hammer home the excitement felt at signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After all, Arsenal won the transfer window, right?
And just a week later, after a rest week earned by virtue of having been dumped out of the FA Cup at the first possible hurdle, the Gunners come into a derby rested up and ready to continue their current rise, stamping their authority over North London once again. And once they’ve done London, they can take on the world.
The most obvious symptom of Arsenal’s problems over the last few years has been the fact that they seem to be repeating the same season over and over again. More recently, that loop may have shortened to Arsene Wenger’s team doomed to suffer a repeat of the exact same month over again. It’s almost Kafkaesque.
But winning the derby – even chasing down Spurs and a top four spot come the end of the season and reinstating St Totteringham’s day – would do one thing and one thing only: it would give Arsene Wenger a free pass for next season and perhaps even more to come.
Perhaps he would deserve it. After all, from the position Arsenal were in around the New Year, when they were comfortably adrift of the rest of the top six, the Gunners are now a player again. If there’s optimism perhaps that’s just a regression towards the mean – if there was despair just a few weeks ago, since then they are now in a cup final, gaining ground on those ahead of them in the league and even optimistic for European success. If Wenger were to deliver two trophies, Champions League football and a place above Tottenham in the league, that would surely be worthy of praise. It would be a great season, all things considered. And certainly something to build on.
But what are the chances of that? And where’s the evidence for such optimism?
Victory over Tottenham on Saturday would not amount to anything in the short term. Arsenal would stay behind their rivals and would remain in sixth place. But longer term, it would put them within striking distance, give them momentum and crucially rob Spurs of theirs.
Yet maybe that just shows how far Arsenal have fallen. Maybe that just means the Gunners are simply fighting to get back to the position they held last season or in the years of stagnation and fourth place.
All a reinstatement of St Totteringham’s Day would do this season – barring two trophies to go with it – is reinforce Arsene Wenger’s stubbornness in his ways.
Historically, the North London derby isn’t an easy game to predict. But if you are willing to take a position on the big rivalry game this Saturday, we have an Premier League outright win treble that will pay out handsomely! In this week’s Accy Show, we’ve also put together a fantastic EFL fourfold, with odds that could see you earn ten times your stake. Check it out and let us know where you’re putting your coins this weekend!