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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal: an interview with Gunner blog The Short Fuse

The North London Derby cometh! So we interviewed an Arsenal blogger.

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Have we mentioned lately that there's a North London Derby coming up? No, really! It's true! Spurs take on the Woolwich Wanderers in the third round of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, the first in what will be (at least) three matchups between Spurs and Arsenal.

We're a huggy bunch here at Cartilage Free Captain. Or, at least I'd assume that we are if we ever actually got together in one room instead of an online chat room. Well, maybe not Skipjack, but I digress. We've already established that, rivalry aside, we like that lot down the digital hall from us at SB Nation's Arsenal blog The Short Fuse. So with the Big Match™ coming up tomorrow, I fired some questions to Paul (pdb) for him to answer. He returned the favor over at that blog we're taking over sometime in the near future.


CFC: Isn't Diego Costa a swell guy? Related: will English football ever recover from Gabriel's disgraceful conduct?

TSF: Diego Costa is a piece of (work). That said, Arsenal were stupid and naïve in falling for his antics. I am unhappy with many facets of that game, but mostly my ire lies with Mike Dean. I am not generally a person who blames a referee for costing a team a game, but when you look at Arsenal's record in games Dean has refereed since 2009, and look at the Dean-refereed results of other top four teams, it's shocking how few games Arsenal win in comparison. In that time period, Arsenal have won at a 57% clip overall, but in Dean-adjudicated games, that percentage drops to 24%.

I'm not sure to what that should be attributed, but I'm never thrilled when I see "Referee: Mike Dean" on an Arsenal game day fact sheet.

CFC: So the match-up between Harry Kane and Gabri... wait, he's suspended. OK, so the midfield battle between Santi Caz... wait, he's suspended too. OK, Jack Wilshere will... yikes, injured. We haven't seen much from Danny Wel... nope. So Coquel... dammit. Who the heck is going to play on Wednesday?

TSF: Who will play? That's an excellent question. We might see Mathieu Flamini. who is...let's just go with "graceless". As you point out, options are rather thin right now, so your guess is as good as mine.

CFC: A lot of digital ink was spilled on the internet over Arsene Wenger not signing a single outfield player this summer. What was Arsene thinking, and do you think this was a wise decision considering most EPL clubs are sitting on a huge pile of TV cash right now?

TSF: Arsene was thinking what he always thinks. He thinks the market doesn't reflect the true value of the talent available, so he generally refuses to participate in the market. I love Arsene Wenger more than I love most members of my own family, but his stubbornness, particularly in the transfer market, is legendary - he's an economics professor, so when he feels a player is worth X, he pays X and no more. Unfortunately, that's not how the football transfer market works - players are worth what the clubs are willing to pay.

Arsenal are not a poor club, but they're not in the same stratosphere as the oil clubs and the Manchesters and the government-backed Spanish clubs, so talent acquisition will always be much more tactical at Arsenal than at those clubs. I do think Wenger could have done more, but when you look at the recent transfer record of...oh let's say Spurs, for instance, I'll take an overly conservative approach over buying 17 guys and hoping that four of them stick. How's Etienne Capoue doing these days?

TL;DR: there is no right answer to transfers. Arsenal's answer doesn't satisfy many people, but Wenger resolutely doesn't care what people who are outside Arsenal think.

CFC: NLDs are always simultaneously fun and stressful. Spurs have won three matches in a row, while Arsenal are coming off a pretty crummy week. How confident are you feeling about Arsenal's chances of nicking a result at White Hart Lane Wednesday?

TSF: I'm as confident as I always am - in other words, about 60% confident. Arsenal are a team who, on their day, can beat any club in Western Europe; unfortunately, there are many other days, and on those other days, they lose to Dinamo Zagreb and to West Ham. So I have no idea which Arsenal is going to show up Wednesday - I do know that Arsenal, like many other clubs, have de-prioritized the League Cup to an extent, so if Arsenal lose it won't really bother anyone. But it always blows losing to Spurs, so I hope that doesn't happen.

CFC: Who's the one player on Tottenham's squad you'd like to defect, Sol Campbell style, to the Emirates in January?

TSF: If I had to pick a Sol Campbell redux, it'd probably be Kyle Walker or Christian Eriksen.

CFC: Kyle Walker. Really? Hmm. OK. New question: how much are you guys looking forward to the Great Blog Takeover coming up? Any requests?

TSF: I'll be looking forward to it much more if y'all have to write several pieces about how Spurs should have won, but it'll be fun regardless and I thank you all again for everything you did.

CFC: Finally, let's put you on record with a score prediction.

TSF: Score prediction? Glad you asked! Much like Pedro Cerrano, I do love a nice meaty fastball right down the middle.


OHHHHH the #banter! I love it! Thanks to Paul from The Short Fuse for answering our questions. Despite their poor choice in clubs, they're an excellent blog with a great commentariat. Give them a follow on Twitter - @theshortfuse and @misterpdb