There was a lot riding on the result of the North London Derby at the weekend. Alongside the usual battle for bragging rights was the far more important issue of the Premier league table. Tottenham’s win meant that they leapfrogged Arsenal in the table and finished the weekend just one place below the coveted 4th spot.
For many seasons, Tottenham have threatened to take Arsenal’s position as the most successful team in North London. For the past five Premier League campaings, Tottenham have finished within at least two places of Arsenal’s position, constantly threatening to overhaul the Gunners. Although there is still a lot of football left to be played this season, Spurs are really starting to take shape under Pochettino’s leadership – successfully replicating the high-pressing game that made the Argentine’s Southampton team so difficult to beat.
Spurs face a vital few weeks if they want to maintain their push for the Champions League. Europa League ties against Fiorentina as well as a League Cup final against Chelsea could shape the outcome of Tottenham’s season as Pochettino will want to continue the positivity growing within the squad. It will be interesting to see whether the Lilywhites can maintain their form as the business end of the season approaches.
Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen need to be kept fit if Tottenham are to fulfil their potential this season. Eriksen has won Spurs a number of points this season through strikes in the dying moments of games. As well as the Dane, Harry Kane has excelled since the manager has shown a lot of faith in him. Regular football has really paid off for the 21-year-old, who now has 23 goals in all competitions. Keeping Kane fit has to be one of the top priorities for Pochettino as the team has really evolved around Kane’s ability.
The only worrying issue for the manager is the fact that Tottenham’s strength in depth is not great. Without Kane, Tottenham are left with a dejected Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, a player who the club were trying to offload in January. Like all success in football, Spurs will need a little bit of luck if they are to finish above Arsenal this season. Judging by the North London derby at the weekend, the players will be brimming with confidence and will feel like they have enough quality to make this season a one that Spurs fans will remember for a long time.
In terms of Arsenal, Wenger will be doing all he can to ensure that the Gunners not only finish above Tottenham but also qualify for the Champions League. Previous seasons suggest that Wenger will pull it out of the bag and lead Arsenal to another fourth-placed finish at least. However, the manner in which they respond from their loss to Tottenham will be absolutely vital. The win against Manchester City was a massive step in the right direction as Arsenal were absolutely superb that day. Nevertheless, the loss against Tottenham is something that has really halted their progress, nullifying the positive effect of the result against City.
Wenger will be hoping that the derby result was simply a blip in what could be a strong finish to the season for Arsenal, who are still in the FA Cup and the Champions League. Their excellent goal difference is also a massive advantage considering how tight the top half of the league is at the moment. Arsenal fans may be anxious about the prospect of Tottenham finishing ahead of them this season but there is still a lot of football left to be played. It is going to be an intriguing battle to see what North London side comes out on top at the end of this campaign. One thing’s for sure, the result at the weekend will be leaving Tottenham fans elated and Arsenal supporters wondering whether this may be the year Spurs finally catch them.