Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur preview: Can Spurs induce an Arsenal meltdown?

Paul Gilham

What does it look like when Arsenal burns?

The Emirates nearly melted down when Arsenal lost to Aston Villa. Imagine what might happen if they lose to Spurs?

Arsenal's disastrous summer -- and they only have two days left to turn it around before the transfer window shuts, or the Gunners supporters may light themselves on fire -- has been made infinitely worse by the more-than £100 million their neighbors have spent. And it could still get worse because they have to play Spurs, at home. Tottenham's free-spending ways that have made them paper champions can show itself on the field. Arsenal can burst into flames.

It would be a glorious day on the white side of North London watching the red side burn. It's tough to make a statement in August, but Spurs would be doing just that with a win. It would be their second statement of the month -- or third, fourth, fifth or sixth depending on how many transfers you want to count -- and there would be no doubt as to who is favored to finish fourth. There would be no doubt which club is better run. There would be no doubt which club is the more ambitious. There would be no doubt which club is collecting lunch money and bullying the band geek.

But Spurs' dream has a couple of major problems: They are still Spurs and they have an overhauled team that has barely trained together. Also, they are still Spurs.

For all of the consternation at the Emirates, they are coming off three wins and convincing ones at that. Spurs may have won their first four matches of the season, but two of those were only possible with a couple of penalties and the other two were over Dinamo Tbilisi. Nobody at White Hart Lane is complaining about four wins from four, but while Spurs can toss around their brilliant transfer work, they don't have much spectacular play to point to yet.

Spurs don't have Christian Eriksen or Vlad Chiriches available to them either, nor is Benoit Assou-Ekotto or Emmanuel Adebayor likely to play. But that beats the heck out of missing Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Abou Diaby, because that is what Arsenal is dealing with, while the fitness of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere is also up in the air. Everything is relative.

A few years ago, the idea of Spurs beating Arsenal was preposterous. The idea of outspending Arsenal was preposterous. The idea of surpassing Arsenal, well, that was a dream too big even on High Road. But here we stand.

North London dominance isn't won in August, nor is a Champions League place. Even if Tottenham take three points from the Emirates, it's hardly a guarantee of a successful season, especially seeing as Spurs are Spurs. But for one day, Arsenal would burn and Tottenham would watch gleefully as they does.

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