So, here it is. Out of nowhere, before either are anywhere near ready, it's suddenly the 1st of September and so rolls the North London Derby. The one which will undoubtedly be one of our most important match of the season, and even one of the more important North London Derby in a long while.
Why? Because this is the North London Derby, dammit. To win it is not just an away win or a deserved 3 points; it's something else entirely. It's not just about beating a rival for a so-called 6-pointer or about a deep-seated local rivalry; it's something completely different.
After all, and this is especially apparent this summer transfer window; can you think of two rivals so completely different? One that spends literally zero money in two free transfers, and one that spends more money than Manchester bloody City, signing seven players for 110M pound sterling. One that is perfectly content and confident in their first team even in the face of injuries, and one that is so obsessed with depth that they can play a perfectly competitive second team. One that places all their trust and responsibility in the shoulder of one Arsene man, and one that got a foreign Director of Football and split the jobs three way.
And even now, no one can say for sure which of these two methods are better, which one is even working right now seeing how contradictory the events unfold. Arsenal's first loss brings to it the boos and cries of Arsenal in crisis, but they quickly shut them up by winning three on the trot, scoring 8 and only conceding one in the process. Tottenham may have cruised through all 4 games to victory without even conceding once, but they can't score without penalties when they're not facing some unknown team from Georgia. And despite all the theories and conjectures and predictions, only one way is certain to decide the winner; on the pitch itself, in the game between the players. And what better time and opportunity would it be than through the North London Derby, held just one day before the oh-so-sacred transfer deadline day? Often life doesn't give a fuck about your narrative or what you think is fair, but sometimes, just sometimes, it comes up with these really unbelievably perfect scripts like this one (or that one time a real life wanted meth chef from Alabama have Walter White as his actual name).
And how do we feel about this game, then? Spurs fans are actually confident about their chances this time (though with some apprehension - they're still Spurs fans, after all), but elsewhere some others think that Arsenal may win yet again. And not just Gunners fans, but pundits and fans from other clubs, too. They believed that Spurs overcompensated in losing their star player by getting these overhyped overpriced Johnny Foreigners, that so many new players to the league can't play well together and will destabilize the team instead. That they never properly replace the one man who literally wins them game after game after game, still lacking creativity and goal threats. That they still underachieved after all, finishing fifth yet again last season and still can't score from open play in this one. That Arsenal works much better as a unit, with the second highest defensive record last season and now with a much improved Ramsey and Walcott and Giroud and others. That Arsenal will triumph over Tottenham yet again, completing a hat-trick of 5pur2 at the Emirates. That they'll Spurs it up again, just like they always do.
And why would they be wrong? It's the truth, after all. The one that Tottenham can never beat is themselves, their worst opponents the ones dressed in Lilywhites. When they fail to get into the much coveted Champion's League two seasons ago, it's not Chelsea robbing it off them - it's their own damn fault for not securing 3rd place when they should. When they fail again last year, it's not Arsenal stealing it from them - it's their own damn fault for not securing another 3 points where they could. And today, when it comes down to it, we will yet again commit another error or a red card or whatever we can to Spurs it up yet again. After all, the narrative works perfectly for it - what better way to shut Arsenal's critics and silence their woes, while at the same time proving that Spurs will still fail again no matter what, than to have them win the North London Derby? Even Spurs fans have seen it coming - things have been way too good and confidence boosting lately, they're just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Well, let me tell you why that's bullshit. Just because a (fair, unweighted) coin flips heads a thousand times, it doesn't mean that the next one is going to be heads again. It doesn't mean that it'll be tails because it's about time something change, it will be 50/50 no matter what. And just like that, just because Arsenal has celebrated St.Totteringham's day without stopping, just because Spurs has always been Spursing it up these days, doesn't mean that it'll continue to be that way. It also doesn't mean that it'll be our year at long last. What it means is that we can't depend on things like fate or karma or concept of fairness, that we hold our own fates in our hands and are free to shape it however we want. That we can win things by actually winning things, narrative be damned.
And deep down, we know all this. We know all about Gambler's Fallacy and how patterns don't hold, that Spurs are the masters of their own destiny. Yet still we, players and staffs and fans alike, can't be too confident and still too scared to believe. And that, more than the 3 or 6 points or anything else, is why today match is so important. In order to get that confidence, to prove that the structures and decisions made from top to bottom management might be good after all. That the team is really good and strong, after all. Not to others, who gives a fuck what Arsenal or other clubs fans or the pundits believe. But to ourselves, to get that belief and confidence for the rest of season.
It won't be smooth sailing, of course. Hell, despite all this Arsenal are perfectly good enough to beat us today and all these are pointless. So what happens if they beat us today? Will Spurs season self-destruct as early as start of September? Personally, I don't believe so. I trust the club to deal with it just like they always do. Like when we dealt with losing key players in King and Modric and Van der Vaart and the manager, by finishing with our record highest point total. Like when we dealt with point-draining late goals by extra concentration training, not conceding in the last half hour for many games afterward. Just like we dealt with lack of strikers and injuries and losses, by still winning games even the one in Etihad. No matter what happens we'll deal with it, and come out stronger.
But really, I think we won't lose. Hell, we can even go and win this. So come on, Andre Villas Boas; I know that despite all these new players you can still make a great team out of it and keep everyone happy. So come on, Levy and Baldini; I know that no matter what happens today you'll make sure that we finish the transfer deadline day tomorrow with aplomb. So come on, those of you coming to the Emirates today that's not of the Arsenal persuasion; I know that you'll raise your voice and support the team no matter what happens. So come on all you Lilywhite players, it doesn't matter if you've been here a week or a month or year or a decade, it doesn't matter if you're on the pitch or on the bench or even on the stands, I know that together you'll give them a good thumping.
Come on, you Spurs.