So tell me, you thought I was going to keep quiet on the derby pitting Arsenal against cross town rival Tottenham? Sure you got it all wrong if you thought so. This is one I always love to write about, albeit for the moment. Not that I love to see Arsenal suffer or Spurs chest thump, but the drama surrounding this one is always a beauty.
Gone are the days when you would bet on Arsenal winning this fixture. They had been the old boys in it for so long, but thanks to Harry, his shrewd bargaining power in the transfer market and tactical ability, Spurs seem to go into these matches these days as potential winners even before a ball is kicked.
Arsenal fans are bound to hate the fact that even with no big names, Tottenham are able to chuck out results off big teams and still sit pretty above Arsenal in the EPL table. My good old friend Wenger has had a torrid time at the Emirates dugout, Tottenham are in red hot form, Arsenal are sinking day by day and without blinking an eye, I think this might be the time Wenger seeks to redeem himself. Following Chelsea’s result, Spurs will seek to cement their position in the big boy’s league, Adebayor and Co would love to hurt Arsenal even more while the hosts will seek to get their goal scoring form back after terrible performances in Europe and the FA cup.
On to today’s match, I hate predictions; rarely get them right, and even on this, I’m not raring to go. Walcott should find lots of space on the ball and running against Ekotto and Walker, his form should be top class today should Arsenal want to pull a result out of this one. Shots from outside the 18 yard area should be plenty from the guys in white and you actually bet the winner will be controversial if not dramatic. Arsenal sure will get a goal but winning this might just be expecting too much from Wenger’s men. I hate speaking about this over and over, but the refereeing standards in this league of late have been very worrying. One poor decision from the centre/lines man will dilute this tie and spark off the football we all want to see, not even the slightest of errors is expected, cool heads, concentration and pure sportsmanship should rule the tie and at the end of it all, may the best team win.
Last season when Arsenal reached Wembley to play the Carling cup final, I knew maybe the trophy drought had come to an end. At the end of it all, the blue and the white strips of Birmingham triumphed and Emirates could only curse the footballing gods again. Reaching a final in itself is no mean feat but going on to win it removes the pressure off the team as is the case of Liverpool today. After beating Brighton 6-1 earlier in the week, I really don’t expect Liverpool to loose this. Gerrard for the captain he is, should comfortably lift this over his head as pictures and screen shots of weeping Cardiff supporters fill my screen (like they expected to win it). But as last season’s final, you never count your chicks before they are hatched, Liverpool will have to work hard especially to get that first goal, then maybe from then get a few more or defend riskily for their lives till the final whistle. Not a preferred final for me by any standards but for the Reds, another chance to win silverware and play at Wembley, for Cardiff, maybe, maybe now.