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Monday, 19 November 2012

Arsenal: Will Spurs victory push us on to success?

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Sqf Josh

So after a derby that could not have really gone much better, one cannot help but be reminded of the aftermath of this same fixture last year. You all know the story; 10 points behind our north London neighbours, beating them 5-2 at home and then going on to finish third after a run almost as good as a Usain Bolt 100-metre sprint. Oh and Spurs then went on to not qualify for the Champions league. What a wonderful sense of déjà vu, but can that happen again?

Nobody likes to admit it, but the victories that entailed last season’s derby were a little bit inspired by van Somethingoranother. Alright fine, a lot inspired. But a team isn’t one player, as much as many people seem to think. The 2011 derby changed the whole energy of the team. We became a team that remembered how to play again, how to win. The Spurs victory seemed a catalyst for the third place finish that a raw Arsenal team managed to achieve.

GiroudMany will argue that it was just a coincidence. That we were just capitalising on a poor Chelsea side, tiring Tottenham, and an influential captain. While all true to a certain extent, one cannot dismiss the power of the north London derby.

As a fan, it is clear how much it means to beat them, and the equal frustration and devastation at a loss. This goes the same for any player. It can be no coincidence that an Arsenal side teetering at the edge of mid table mediocrity suddenly became the team to beat after destroying their much hated neighbours. This too applies for a Tottenham side that at one point of the season were in the running for the title (as unrealistic as that does sound), to then lose to Arsenal and go on to succumb that 10-point lead, finishing the season one point behind their envied rival.

Football is a game of the mind just as much as it is of the feet. How many times do you see a player concede an early own goal or miss a crucial penalty and then continue to have an abysmal game? Incidents like these have a negative psychological effect on most players, just as it gives a mental boost to the opposition. When games as important as the north London derby result in a thrashing to Arsenal, it is no wonder that it had the effect that it did.

Forgetting coincidences and psychologies, Arsenal really did look good on Saturday. Although the early Adebayor red card (How perfect was that?) changed the whole balance of the game, the boys in red had a different attacking purpose to that of previous games. With the Arteta–Wilshire–Cazorla partnership really starting to click, we looked much more dangerous when going forward. A revitalized Cazorla made the world of difference to our creativity, while Giroud really is starting to find his feet in the Premier League.

So the signs are good. Although sad, third of fourth place sounds like an ideal finish to a season that has really started poorly for the Gunners. Whether it be fate, psychology, timing, or just plain luck, the identical score-line last year was a defining moment in what transpired to be a relatively successful season. Let’s hope this week's win will do the same thing.

Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you think the club can build on that derby triumph? With Manchester United and Chelsea both losing at the weekend, do Arsenal have what it takes to enter the title race? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth



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