There are few things certain in life – death and taxes, as the saying goes. Then, of course, there’s Tottenham being sh*t. When I was asked to write about this being the first time in a generation that Arsenal fans actually fear Spurs aren’t just a one-season wonder, I almost wet myself laughing before replying, ‘sure, I’ll write about that.’
Fear Spurs. Is that a thing people who aren’t under the supervision of medical professionals actually do? Sure, they no longer fall to pieces at the slightest sign of pressure (they can put that on now, don’t you know), and they consistently challenge for the top four, a trophy that’s suddenly worth something now Arsene Wenger has gone and Tottenham have claimed it.
But are they really an entity that Arsenal and their fans should fear?
There seems to be this impression that there’s a storm coming for Arsenal. Once Tottenham (eventually) swing open the doors to their new stadium they will become a behemoth that will dwarf the Gunners.
Reality for Tottenham, however, is likely to be very, very different. Arsenal fans know because we’ve just lived through it. Not that anyone at Tottenham has used that as a guide.
For the past decade, Tottenham were able to gain ground on Arsenal because Arsene Wenger’s men stood still as they dealt with life after building a new stadium that was entirely self-financed. Arsenal went from title winners to top four contenders and were happy with that for the duration of their settling in period.
Tottenham have amassed nothing near the credit in the bank that Arsenal and Wenger had stashed away before their war chest was buried in the back yard, not to be seen again for 10 years. They haven’t won a trophy in over a decade. Their last success came in the League Cup, a trophy only Tottenham and Jose Mourinho think matters.
Why will their stadium move be different than Arsenal’s? Why will they kick up a gear when Arsenal stalled? They haven’t even shown they can build their stadium properly, what on earth makes anyone think they can pay it off while improving? A wiser club would have looked towards their neighbours for clues on how best to move forward, but this is Tottenham.
There might be much to fear from Tottenham for 90 minutes on Sunday, but it will take decades of continued dominance and humiliation at their hands to establish any fear of them as a club. Tottenham are incapable of this. To overtake Arsenal recently they needed their north London rivals to drop their level so significantly they had to sack their most successful manager. You’d only fear Tottenham as an entity if you believe Arsenal have no room to improve while Tottenham do.
Already this season we’ve seen Arsenal do just that and Unai Emery is only getting started. The Spaniard has had one transfer window and will need three or four to truly stamp his mark all over the Emirates. But we’ve already seen plenty from him to know that things are on the up.
The Emirates crowd has responded to what they are seeing from the team on the pitch and to the changes the club have made. The ground will be rocking on Sunday, the atmosphere quite possibly the most intimidating one witnessed since it opened. Things are different in N5 now.
But while much has changed, one thing hasn’t – our contempt for Tottenham. 13 league titles to 2, 13 FA cups to 8, and decades above them in the league with barely a hint of them dislodging us until recently. Tottenham’s main achievement over the past decade is to win as many Champions League games as Nicklas Bendtner.
No matter what the result on Sunday, that contempt will not diminish. Temporary bragging rights are just that – temporary.
Arsenal’s superiority over their neighbours is permanent.
This article first appeared on Paddy Power where Lee Hurley is a regular contributor