Tomorrow is the North London Derby, and you know what that means! ...No, I mean aside from drinking a fifth of bourbon and panic-vomiting in a trash can before the match. It's time to check back in with our good Gooner friends from down the virtual SB Nation hallway at The Short Fuse.
This is shaping up to be one of the biggest and most important NLDs in decades, in no small part because of its role as being a potential title decider. Spurs are in second, Arsenal are in third, just three points behind. Both still cling to the belief that Leicester will somehow still screw this up and drop down the table, leaving an opening. Which makes this not only the very definition of a six-pointer, but also sets the winner (if there is one) up in the catbird seat for the title race.
The Gunners have not had the best of weeks and are (literally) limping into this match, which unsurprisingly makes Spurs fans even MORE nervous than they would already be. So I asked Short Fuse writer pdb about this, and more. And you can read my cross-interview over at TSF.
CFC: Who's the bigger loss heading into the derby: Koscielny or Cech?
pdb: Cech, undoubtedly. I love Kos, but he's been inconsistent this year and the defense is OK without him (not great, but OK), but Cech brings that whole intangible leadership thing that Stumblin' Dave Ospina just does not.
CFC: Alexis had an interesting quote recently about how he doesn't think Arsenal have the "hunger" and "self-belief" to win the title. What do you think about his comments, and how much will Arsene sell him for this summer?
pdb: I am terrified that he's saying things like that, because:
- he's right
- it's the first crack in a dam that will burst with one or two more cracks
- I like Alexis and want him to stay forever
With everything that's going on at Arsenal now, it was only a matter of time before quotes like this would emerge; now they're starting, and I fear that there are more players who feel that way than we'll know. How much will Arsene sell him for? A lot, that's not the problem. The problem is who he'd buy to replace him - I've heard N.O. Body is available on a free, so we'll probably see that happen.
CFC: By now you know more or less what to expect out of Tottenham. What does Arsenal need to do to give it the best chance of getting a result?
pdb: Is it too late to recruit 7 new first team starters and expect them to gel before Saturday?
CFC: Which masked man is scarier to Arsenal supporters: Michael Myers or Harry Kane?
pdb: Myers. He carries a blade.
CFC: Imagine a scenario where not only does St. Totteringham's Day not come this year, but Tottenham also win the title. How, exactly, does that make you feel? Bonus points for use of clever metaphors.
pdb Well, by definition when Arsenal finish ahead of Spurs, there's a St Tott's day, even if it's on the last day of the season. But that wasn't your question, which I've been avoiding. Look! Shiny things!
Anyway. I don't have a lot of clever metaphors, but I do have a...somewhat unique perspective on this. You see, I am, in my other sports fandom, a season ticket holder and long time supporter of Your 2015 The Major League Soccer League Cup Champion Portland Timbers. For those of you who don't follow MLS, the rivalry between Seattle and Portland is every bit as local (despite a 180 mile distance between the two), as historical (both teams have existed in various leagues for over 40 years), and as bile-filled as the Arsenal/Tottenham rivalry is. And, as a Timbers fan, I'm squarely on the short side of that rivalry - the Sounders have always had more money, more success, and a more high profile than the Timbers.
So, when Portland won the MLS Cup last year, it was huge - Seattle's never won one, but they have been in the playoffs every year of their MLS existence, and they've won four US Open Cups (the American equivalent of the FA Cup). So, yeah, little brother finally won a Cup, and it was f**king amazing, because we got there first and we will always have that, no matter what.
But, and this is where it's instructive for me as an Arsenal fan - I am fully aware that one single Cup win doesn't put the Timbers on equal footing with the Sounders. It will take a sustained run of Cups and USOC wins and the like, and that takes time and good fortune and planning and whatnot. Can all that success happen? Sure it can. But I'm not about to go get 2016 MLS CUP WINNER tattooed on my back just yet, because hubris is a hideous master and can turn on you quick.
So yeah, Spurs, if you finish above Arsenal this year, enjoy it. Have your banterific fun (but be cool about it)! But remember: it won't happen often, particularly once a lot of your free dollars get sucked up by building and paying for a £750 million stadium for the next several years.
CFC: Just for fun, pick your combined Spurs-Arsenal Best XI so we can all tell you how wrong you are. (Just kidding, we won't. Probably.)
pdb: It's been a week where I want to dump most if not all of Arsenal's starters, so I'll just basically say Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, and pretty much everyone else can come from Spurs.
CFC: Random sartorial question, since in my mind all of you are dapper gentlemen: do you prefer Old Navy, Banana Republic, or mind the GAP?
We are all quite fond of the Gap because they keep adding more things to it for us.
CFC: Finally, how about a derby prediction?
pdb: A score prediction? I'll give you two. The first one comes from my reaction to this week's Arsenal drama, and it's 3-1 Spurs. The second one comes more from a place of reason and rationality, and that one's 1-1.
Arsenal is Arsenal, but by now all y'all know that we quite like the people down at The Short Fuse. Thanks to pdb for taking the time to do this little shindig ahead of the North London Derby. You can give him a follow on the Twitter machineif you'd like. He's funny, I promise.