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Why Arsenal will finish ahead of Spurs…again

Why Arsenal will finish ahead of Spurs…again

Pencil St Totteringham's Day in for this season, Arsenal are coming for their rivals.

AS soon as Arsenal scored their second goal against Manchester United and effectively clinched the victory, the chants began. From all around the Emirates Stadium, a song rose up: “Tottenham Hotspur, we’re coming for you”.

In each of the last two seasons, Spurs have finished above the Gunners. After two decades of dominance, Tottenham are enjoying a brief period of superiority. It seemed they were set to make it a hat-trick this season, but the pendulum of momentum now seems to be swinging back towards Unai Emery’s Arsenal.

In this piece, we outline the reasons for Arsenal fans to believe they are set to reclaim their crown as kings of north London.

The fixture list

Arsenal’s clash with United was their final fixture against one of their immediate rivals: they have now played the rest of the top six home and away, accumulating 12 points across the 10 games. They haven’t recorded a higher return from those matches since 2012/13.

Tottenham, meanwhile, still face away trips to both Manchester City and Liverpool. With those two teams locked in a fight for the title, they’ll be absolutely determined to ensure they take the three points. As former Spurs midfielder Danny Murphy told talkSPORT, “They’ve got to go to Manchester City and they’ve got to go to Anfield – two ridiculously tough fixtures.”

Arsenal’s biggest issue will be the proportion of their fixtures which take place away from home. Only three of their remaining eight games are at the Emirates Stadium. Emery’s team have won 13 of their 16 home games, but their record on the road is far worse—they’ve won just five from 14. 

In theory, Arsenal have the more favourable fixtures. However, they’ll have to improve their away form to take advantage of them.

The Champions League

Tottenham’s advancement into the final stages of the Champions League is certain to be a significant distraction for them. They did remarkably well to overcome Borussia Dortmund, and now Mauricio Pochettino will surely have his sights set on reaching a historic semi-final.

That may come at the expense of Spurs’ Premier League ambitions. They do not have the deepest squad out of the top six, and it’s possible that enforced rotation could cost them.

It’s quite possible that by the end of this week, Arsenal may not have a European campaign to concern themselves with. At the time of writing, the Gunners are two goals down to Rennes after the first leg. If they go out, they will be able to focus their energies fully on domestic issues.

Even if they make it through, the Europa League is unlikely to drain as much focus and resource as the Champions League.

The form

Right now, Spurs are struggling—the Dortmund win was actually some brief respite in what has been a torrid period. 

The Premier League form table (constructed based on the last five games) has Arsenal in second place, behind only Manchester City. The Gunners have yielded 13 points from an available 15. Tottenham, meanwhile, are currently in 17th spot in the form table. They’ve won just one of their last five league games. Given that they crashed out of two domestic cups in a week back in January, it has not been a good start to 2019. 

The recent north London derby, which Arsenal came within a penalty kick of winning, demonstrated that the Gunners are the superior team right now. 

It’s Spurs

In the immortal words of Sir Alex Ferguson: “Lads, it’s Spurs”. Pochettino may have transformed them into a more efficient outfit than ever before, but suffering and shame are hard-coded into their DNA. It’s been some time since they did something truly ‘Spursy’ - which suggests their next calamity can only be round the corner.

For much of the season it appeared that Tottenham would finish comfortably ahead of Arsenal. However, there is now a real chance they could celebrate St. Totteringham’s Day this year. Beware Spurs: Arsenal could just be coming for you.



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James McNicholas
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