As the clock struck the hour mark and Harry Kane all but confirmed Spurs finishing above Arsenal in yesterday’s derby, he also shifted the balance of another critical factor. And while most of the media will have you believe it is a power swing in north London, it actually is all about a momentum shift.
It is about the difference of a momentum of 22 years versus that of 146 seconds. Since 1995, Gunners fans all over the globe have celebrated St Totteringham’s day for over two decades now and those haven’t come without incident. Take last year for example, where despite having their best season till then, Spurs literally gifted the celebratory banners to Arsenal.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 30, 2017
The sad part is that, this has been coming for Arsenal. And not just for the last five years, but ever since the infamous lasagna incident happened in May 2006. What is being felt by Arsenal fans today could just as easily have occurred 11 May’s ago. And it is because of that incident that the red half of North London found 11 more years of momentum to stay ahead of their neighbours.
7 years later, in 2013, when Arsène Wenger was signing Mesut Özil for £42m as his one major transfer of the window, Spurs had already spent £105m on players. One of those was the man who ran the show yesterday and has quietly been creating everything good for the Lilywhites.
Christian Eriksen is now using his own momentum of 4 years of top class performances which have, till now, largely gone unnoticed. He is the key to making things happen as well as making space for the pseudo-striker Dele Alli to operate in. Oh and putting goals on a plate for Harry Kane.
All three of those names are the reason why Tottenham are where they are today and they are in stark contrast with the names at Arsenal. Not in quality by any means, but by the sheer impetus they have to push their club forward.
Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez and clinical-striker-not-found have been built up by the Gunners faithful to drag them over the line year in, year out. However, whether it is a lack of ambition or the number of zeroes on their pay, it just did not happen this season.
After the super energising back-to-back FA Cup victories in 2014 and 2015, Arsenal have lost their way in terms of playing for anything at all. The annual monotony mixed with the universal assurance that Spurs could not topple them has literally brought them to a standstill-in league (& Champions League) position and quality.
And despite how much “Spursy” Spurs have been over the years, they have still managed to improve each season. That improvement has come from the thrust of bettering their neighbours and that has in turn helped them better themselves. It is the reason why they are where they are.
This is unprecedented territory for Spurs and Arsenal both, make no bones about it. Neither has experienced their current respective feelings for a long time. And that’s because before, Spurs only got disturbingly close but never further. Instead, they found a way to kowtow to what was fast becoming their destiny.
And it is now the responsibility of Arsenal Football Club to stop falling into the quicksand of also-rans which is what their destiny has become. If not for nothing, but just to get out of this rut they would do well to take this sad turn of events in their stride. The idea of seeing their arch enemies finish above them may just spur them on to finally play for something more than just the UCL spots.
Because it is the one thing which can get Arsenal to becoming what they really were when the last time these events unfolded. The one thing people claim has actually made “Spurs-the new Arsenal”. And only with that dedicated momentum towards bettering Tottenham again can get Arsenal to renew normal services in ways more than one.