Until the last two years of his reign at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger kept Arsenal above Tottenham and in the Champions League despite stringent spending restrictions because of the stadium move and a number of serious injuries.
Fast forward a couple of seasons and Tottenham find themselves in the same sort of position, albeit without the pedigree that Wenger had already established by the time the stadium reality began to bite.
You can imagine, then, my surprise as I read a Daily Telegraph report this morning having a look at who the real title contenders are this season, to see Mauricio Pochettino hailed as a miracle worker.
I was also surprised to read that this is Tottenham’s best ever start to a Premier League campaign, what with them already being behind Arsenal as we try to bed in a new manager. But that wasn’t the statement that caught my eye the most.
No, that was this one:
“Are they likely to last the course?” the Telegraph asks. “Pochettino is working miracles to keep in touch with the leaders and there is a fear among fans that the lack of signings and injuries will take their toll,” Matt Law writes.
‘Working miracles’. Do you ever remember that phrase being used to describe what Arsene Wenger did for a decade?
Here on Daily Cannon we started tracking teams’ injuries over the course of the season back in 2010/2011. I made the decision to stop doing that for this season as the point I’d wanted to demonstrate had been done clearly – Arsenal suffer a lot of injuries.
In all, we completed eight Injury League tables that allocated one point for every week one player was injured. Over the course of those eight years, Tottenham finished above Arsenal once – the inaugural table in the 2010/11 season, and that was only by four points from Arsenal. In short, you could say the number of injuries both sides suffered were almost identical.
But that wasn’t the case moving forward. The following season Arsenal were second overall again while Tottenham were fourth. 12/13 saw Arsenal third while Tottenham dropped all the way to seventh. Arsenal topped the table by a mile in 13/14, 77 points clear of Villa in second and 81 ahead of Spurs in third. The next season saw Arsenal fall to fifth, but they still registered more than double the number of injury points as Tottenham who finished 17th.
15/16 and 16/17 saw Arsenal pick up around 100 points more than Spurs while last season was Arsenal’s best in terms of the number of points picked up (95) yet they still finished 12 ahead of Tottenham.
Of course, this points to a problem at Arsenal, one of the reasons I started the Injury League in the first place, but there is no denying that Arsene Wenger consistently guided Arsenal above Spurs while dealing with far more injuries.
Was that ever described as a ‘miracle’?
For the record, here’s the response when it was asked if Arsenal are likely to last the course:
“Will they win the title? No. But they are better prepared for a top-four challenge than many observers thought.”
Drink driving, sex tapes, and bending the rules of the game. It’s been quite the 2018 for Tottenham, their players, and supporters, but would any other club get away with this much scandal?
Hugo Lloris wass sorry, Dele Alli is probably secretly chuffed, Christian Eriksen was refusing to sign while Daniel Levy is furious. For the rest of football, however, we’re all wondering how one club manages to remain the media’s darling despite a series of scandals that would see many others castigated relentlessly.
They are, of course, scandals of varying degrees of seriousness. You cannot compare being arrested for drunk driving with the leak of a sex tape but the collective value of everything that has happened at Tottenham this calendar year should result in significant pressure from the media to sort their sh*t out.
In case you’ve forgotten what Spurs have been up to in 2018 off the pitch, let’s recap some of the events and milestones the media don’t seem that bothered about
Club captain arrested for drink driving
Someone who is meant to lead by example, there is simply no excuse for anyone caught drink-driving these days. We know how stupid it is and every offence should come with a compulsory, lengthy ban from driving.
Mauricio Pochettino was said to be ‘very, very angry’ with his captain but not angry enough to strip of that honour for even a single match.
No editorials followed demanding Spurs make an example of him.
Star forward in sex tape
I don’t want to have to think about it either, but you and I know we’ve all seen Dele Alli’s knob and that is not something anyone should have to say.
Why did we watch? Because it was out there, but did it cause a ripple in his world? Not at all, if anything, it helped enhance his reputation the way it would have ruined a woman’s had she been the star.
Christian Eriksen refusing to sign national team deal
We all got to watch John Jensen manage a team of Superligen players turn out for Denmark after Christian Eriksen and his mates refused to sign a new image rights deal with the Danish FA.
Was he being accused of holding his country to ransom? Did anyone say playing for your country shouldn’t be about money or image? What do you think?
Pushing EFL to allow them to play at MK Dons
Spurs got their way and played their home tie in the Carabao Cup at the MK Dons’ stadium which could be their third home ground of the season. There are rules in place to stop this sort of nonsense, but they don’t seem to matter as the authorities bend to help Tottenham out of a sticky situation that is entirely of their own making.
Spending over £1bn on a stadium that was meant to cost £400m
Most building projects run over schedule and over budget, apart from the Emirates but they had Arsene ‘Economic Whizz’ Wenger in charge of that. But it really is a special effort to increase costs by 150%.
You’d also expect, if you’re paying £1bn for anything, somebody would be able to give you an idea of when you might be able to use it. The management of this project has been shambolic from Tottenham and it will be fans who have to pick up the tab.
Claiming their new ground would be the only place to watch Champions League football in London this season was just a little cherry thrown from Levy to the Arsenal and Chelsea fans.
Not winning a trophy for 10 years
Normally big clubs come under pressure to win things. Arsenal’s trophy drought became the lifeblood for many papers around the five-year mark and the pressure ramped up exponentially every year until they finally lifted a bit of silverware.
Spurs haven’t won a trophy in 10 years, and that was the League Cup. To find an FA Cup win you have to go back to 1991 (27 if you’re trying to count and ran out of fingers and toes) while we all know you have to go back to before colour television to find a league title win.
There has, of course, been some pressure on them, but probably not even as much as they put on Chelsea the year they didn’t win the league but acted like they did.
What I see here, unlike quite a lot of people, mostly Arsenal fans to be fair, is not a media that favours Tottenham. Rather, it is one that treats them normally, with the right amount of hyperbole when truly warranted which is, less face it, not that often.
We can wonder, then, why they get hysterical over certain players and clubs. Mesut Ozil, Paul Pogba, and Raheem Sterling are just three who must be wondering what the headlines would have been had they indulged in any of these activities.
But the question here isn’t really why are the media so nice to Tottenham? It’s why are they so f**king awful to so many others that we think they are?