COMMENT: Tottenham's hold over Arsenal could be a long-term thing

Sport360 editor James Piercy says Tottenham getting the better of Arsenal may well be a sign of the times ahead.

James Piercy
by James Piercy
1st May 2017

article:1st May 2017

Was this weekend a changing of the guard?
Was this weekend a changing of the guard?

The symbolism was far-reaching as the final whistle blew, not only on Arsenal’s chances of salvaging something from the north London derby but of the dreaded St Totteringham’s day that has plagued both Spurs fans and neutrals in equal measure.

Tottenham won’t only finish above their rivals for the first time in 22 years, they’ll more than likely do it by a significant margin as the current gap of 17 points could swell beyond 20 come May 21.

That’s the sort of separation Arsenal regularly experienced during Arsene Wenger’s first decade in charge and the peak of their dominance, but now there is everything to suggest the roles have reversed.

A lot depends on hypotheticals and moving parts within both clubs, with Tottenham’s switch to Wembley a potential speedbump given their outstanding home record at White Hart Lane under Mauricio Pochettino.

But reasoned logic suggests Pochettino’s planning and the idea that Spurs are in the midst of a project should keep Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen et al. for at least two more seasons.

Their manager’s faith in young talent could also help them promote themselves as a ‘Dortmund of the Premier League’ in the market this summer; helping attract the sort of players that were always Wenger’s stock-in-trade.

In the red half of north London, however, the future looks decidedly less certain. We’re – and possibly his players too – yet to discover what Wenger is doing beyond this month, nor if Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil want to stay.

Even if the manager does sign a two-year contract the likely lack of Champions League football will surely force at least one of Sanchez or Ozil to leave, perhaps both, and serious investment is then required.

London will always be an attractive destination for any footballer but when there are two other clubs in the city in the Champions League, unless Arsenal are willing to break their wage ceiling, they will be a comfortable third choice.

There is also the very real scenario Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and even Keiran Gibbs could be plucked away this summer with only one-year left on their deals; while in 2019, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Nacho Monreal, Gabriel and Petr Cech all become free agents.

Four are either already in their 30s or will be by then, meaning the eternally-prudent Arsenal board may be reticent in retaining them.

That represents 11 first-team players and a manager who could feasibly be gone within 24 months, none of which carries any visible contingency plan.

Tottenham’s time has arrived, and it’s difficult to see Arsenal stopping them in the short-term.



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