For Spurs fans the last thirty years or so have seen them sit uncomfortably in the shadow of their holier than thou north London rivals.
Particularly galling for the Lilywhites must have been the last 15 years as Arsene Wenger guided their bitter rivals through a golden period of success on the pitch, whilst they made do with a solitary Carling Cup triumph. However, going into this weekend’s north London derby with Spurs sitting pretty in 3rd, 10 points ahead of the faltering Gunners, it’s time to ask, who really is the bigger club these days?
Interestingly, both managers have a Bantr fan approval rating of 90% that whilst strong, suggests that are some corners of support beginning to doubt their respective bosses.
Let’s start on the pitch by comparing results and the playing personnel. Spurs can now argue a superior team to Arsenal at the moment, probably more so than the league standings suggest. Their starting line up blends a handful of world class players in their prime, with a talented English spine and some of the most exciting youth prospects in the Premier League. It is the perfect mix of youth and experience that has gelled marvelously in the last couple of years.
Arsenal’s current squad however, can be considered their worst in recent memory. Their only world class performer, Robin van Persie, has elevated himself the absolute footballing elite in the last year, but finds himself surrounded by a questionable defence, and a midfield lacking in leadership. Compounding all this, the Arsenal injury list at any given point is longer than a Cesc Fabregas transfer saga. Why is Wenger now settling for mediocrity in the transfer market? Has his judgement of young talent will truly make the grade also slipped?
The current superiority of Spurs is also something reflected in the talents that they are bringing in and capable of bringing into the club. This week their punching power was made clear, when Eden Hazard, widely thought of as the most exciting young talent in Europe, shocked many who expected him to end up in the clutches of Barcelona or Real Madrid by stating that a deal with Spurs is close.
Compare that to Arsenal who resorted to the need for more creativity by signing Yossi Benayoun on loan – the perennial substitute has unsurprisingly looked on forlornly all season. It is also worth noting that the last few years have seen world class talent like Modric and Van der Vaart coming into White Hart Lane, where as down the road it’s all traffic in the other direction as the likes of Fabregas and Nasri tired of forever being the bridesmaids.
Away from the pitch, things are even looking peachier for the Lilywhites, despite Arsenal’s global appeal. Between 2010-11 Arsenals revenue grew 4%, whilst Spurs rocketed up 10% during the same period. They are packing out White Hart Lane week in week out and making plans to upgrade, whilst the downturn in form at the Emirates is seeing thousands of empty seats as the season wears on. As Spurs’ are virtually guaranteed Champions League football next year, the revenue this will bring will only close the financial gap with Arsenal further.
As Jermain Defoe nonchalantly noted this week, of the upcoming derby, Arsenal need this much more than Spurs. This is the status quo and Arsenal might have to get used to it.
HARRY REDKNAPP’S BANTR APPROVAL RATING