You probably remember Tottenham Hotspur's 5-0 win over Newcastle last season, shortly after Fabio Capello left the England post. Everyone expected Harry Redknapp to jump ship and for Tottenham's player to crumble under the uncertainty, but they absolutely demolished a red-hot team that looked like a legitimate top-four contender.
That led into a North London Derby where, for the first time in my time as a supporter of Tottenham, they were arguably the favorites heading into a game away to Arsenal. You probably remember that game too. We started strong, then fell apart, eventually losing 5-2. Even after that crushing loss, Spurs' gap back to the Gunners was huge, and they were expected to finish above Arsenal. They didn't pull it off.
For the second time in my time as a supporter and the second time in as many seasons, Spurs are actually supposed to finish ahead of Arsenal. For only the second time, there are lifelong Gooners who bleed for the club who are actually willing to admit that Tottenham might have a better squad, and they might finally have their stuff together, and they're probably better than Arsenal.
This absolutely terrifies the crap out of me, much more than it did last year. Because last year, there was nothing to be terrified about. I didn't know how to feel, because Spurs had never been there before. I just kind of enjoyed the moments. Then the collapse started, and I certainly knew how to feel then, and now we're playing in the Europa League.
Now that I know how to feel about Tottenham actually playing solid football and actually looking much better than their North London rivals, and being in a very good position to finish ahead of them, I am absolutely terrified. Unlike last season, when our manager was flirting with other jobs (and a bit of a loose cannon anyway) while the team was wholly dependent on one player (Modric) and Arsenal had a bonafide match-winner in Robin van Persie, none of those issues exist anymore. Spurs are, honest to goodness, the fourth best team in the Premier League and surefire favorites to finish ahead of Arsenal.
That's only going to make it more painful if/when they screw it up. As bad as last year's collapse was, there were so many reasons for it, and it was easy to say "typical Spurs" and look ahead to a future with a new manager and whatever players the Modric money brought in. Now, we really are supposed to pull it off and not collapse and I'm so, so scared that we're going to find a way to screw it up.
It's insane that a 1-0 win over Swansea has me feeling like this, before Arsenal's game this week, no less, but it was so much more than a win over Swansea. It was a battering, without Gareth Bale, against a good team, with the winner coming on a set piece. Spurs never really looked in danger of conceding. It was everything we're not supposed to be, as an entity.
This year, as we turn into the holiday fixture list and the spring, I want something different. I want a team that plays like they're supposed to, and like they know they're one of the best. Like they know they deserve to go to the Champions League.
I'm terrified of being the favorite, but at the same time, I actually believe. The players should believe too.