One of the biggest and certainly most meaningful North London derbies is this Saturday and it is difficult to explain the enormity of the match for both sides. Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane have already acknowledged that this time the stakes are considerably higher. It’s gotten so bad that some supporters can’t even bring themselves to watch.
Tottenham, four points ahead of Arsenal in fourth, must not lose in order to keep their destiny in their own hands for the final weeks of the season. Arsenal, on the other hand, must surely win in order to maintain their recent momentum in the league and ahead of the Champions League semi final second leg against Villarreal next week.
But as with any big match the significance doesn’t end with just the immediate season. Tottenham’s rejuvenation in the league and Arsenal’s subsequent ‘transition’ phase has led to mumurs of a shift in power in North London. Should Tottenham pip Arsenal to the fourth (and the Gunners fail to win in Europe) then it may well spark a revolution, starting with the departure of Thierry Henry. However, should Spurs go back to the old ways and bottle it when it matters most – normal service may be resumed next year with Arsenal’s young side gaining the confidence they need to challenge for the title once again.
The match also pits Tottenham’s young, predominantly British squad against Arsenal’s young, predominantly foreign squad. Not an insignificant detail given all the hoo-ha this season about reliance on players from overseas.
So let’s hear some predictions and invariably some insults. Will Wenger rest players ahead of Villarreal to go for broke to win the trophy he covets most? Will Carrick, Jenas, Defoe and Robinson show Arsene what he missed out on by not signing them? Will Robert Pires score his 900th goal in 5 matches against Spurs? Can Jens Lehman go one North London Derby without stepping on someone’s foot at a corner?
The tension could be cut by a very limp piece of string at this point, let us know who you think is going to come out of this one on top?