It's the biggest North London Derby since...the one at the exact same time last year! There was a segment of a few years between the infamous food poisoning incident and last year's late season win over Arsenal at The Lane that I wasn't able to get too terribly worked up for the game. Tottenham Hotspur never really looked like they could beat Arsenal, and I felt like it was that game that we just had to endure. They were never enjoyable.
Fast forward, and the last three derbies have been successful, in some respect. Last season, we won at home in the league to keep the chase for fourth alive. Early in the year, in the Carling Cup, our reserves played well and pushed the match into extra time before getting beat. And of course, in the last derby, we finally got a win at Emirates Library in dramatic fashion.
This one feels eerily similar to last year's late-season derby for a lot of reasons. It's at White Hart Lane. We're not the favorites, but everyone is confident that we can win. It's not a must-win situation, but it's pretty close to one. Arsenal should be in the title race, but they're a bit far out because they've shot themselves in the foot a few times. It feels like the exact same game.
There are some differences between that game and this one that actually tip in Tottenham's favor. Namely, the fact that Arsenal's form is worse than it was last year, and that we now have Rafael van der Vaart. Basically, everything sets up for Spurs to at least get a decent result.
Predicting big Spurs games is a futile exercise, though, as you all know. We could get a man sent off early or score a ridiculous volley early, completely turning the game on its head. I don't think we're going to see 10-15 minutes of the teams feeling each other out, then the game opening up, and the better team eventually scoring a nice goal. This is a derby, Tottenham are Tottenham, and Arsenal have had a case of the crazies this year as well.
Therefore, the rest of this post will be list of crazy things that I could absolutely see happening in the opening 30 minutes:
- Peter Crouch misses four sitters
- Tom Huddlestone eats Samir Nasri, complains that he wasn't filling
- Wojciech Szczęsny tries to play the crossbar challenge with his own crossbar, fails miserably
- Luka Modric gets De Jong'd by Alex Song, referee cards Modric for diving, Arsene Wenger doesn't see it
- Gareth Bale emulates "The Goal" by weaving through eight defenders, starting at the half-way line. Instead of shooting, he passes to Aaron Lennon. Lennon chips the ball up for Bale, who punches it in, scoring "The Goal" and the "Hand Of God" at the same time.
Enjoy the game.