North London Derby. Heartbeat by heartbeat.Read More
Last seasons derby match at the
Emirates proved to be pivotal. Had we won the match, we'd have probably
continued on with our march to consolidating 3rd spot and travelling
the London Underground would not be littered with constant reminders of
our implosion. Instead the day served to illustrate that not all was
well and that tactically we lacked any shrewdness and astuteness and
invited Arsenal to rejuvenate a season that some of their fans had
already given up on, leaving long before half time.
The game was a catalyst. It sent them one way and us in the opposite direction.Read More
Whatever. They only won because we played like they do on most weekends, without any belief. Think we needed this to happen. A reminder that we still have a job to do. If we took them back to the Lane tomorrow, we'd crush them. Doesn't count for much, its like losing to Stoke. I'm really okay with it. We've been laughing at them all season long. We are still the better team and this was nothing more than a bad day at the office. We switched off and they had their moment in the sun, in their cup final, and they punished us for going to sleep. Means nothing. We'll win next week, they'll lose and nothing will have changed in the grand scheme of things. Let them have their moment, its what they value above anything else. Let them gloat, its what they do best. It's what they treasure above anything else, showing their pig ugly faces in public and giving it some because they're so obsessed with how they must always be perceived as winners. North London is still ours. If we had bothered to turn it on at 2-0 we'd have scored four or five.
WHAT IN THE **** WAS THAT? GUTLESS AND USELESS. TOO MANY PLAYERS BELIEVING IN THE POST-GAME HYPE. WE MADE A CRAP SIDE LACKING IN CONFIDENCE LOOK LIKE WORLD BEATERS, RE-CLAIMING PAST DOMINANCE WHEN WE WERE MEANT TO BE THE ONES SHOWING OFF OUR CREDENTIALS. DID WE EVEN HAVE A DEFENCE TODAY? I COUNTED FOUR CHEAP GOALS. PATHETIC, JUST PATHETIC. WE'RE GOING TO FINISH 7TH AT BEST AND LUKA AND BALE WILL BE GONE AND KING WILL RETIRE AND THAT WILL BE THAT. I BET EDEN HAZARD WAS WATCHING THAT AND NOW HE'S RIPPED UP HIS PRE-CONTRACT WITH US TO SIGN FOR THEM. WORST DAY OF MY LIFE. JUST CONFIRMS WE'VE FLUKED THE ENTIRE SEASON AND OUR PROGRESS OVER THE PAST FEW SEASONS IS BECAUSE OTHERS CLUBS HAVE SIMPLY NOT PUT ANY EFFORT INTO IT. TODAY WE'VE BEEN KICKED BACK INTO OUR BOX. I'M GOING TO MELT MY SEASON TICKET CARD AND MOULD IT INTO A MIDDLE FINGER AND MAIL IT TO LEVY. RIP TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. LET'S NOT BOTHER TURNING UP FOR ANY OF OUR REMAINING GAMES, MUCH LIKE WE DID IN THIS ONE. WHY WASN'T SZCZESNY SENT OFF? HARRY, GOOD LUCK RELEGATING ENGLAND NEXT SEASON.
It's just three points right? Someone confirm it's just three points and three points is available every match so we can make up the deficit and boost it back to a ten point gap soon? Gloating rights mean nothing any ways, that's for kids in the playground. I don't care about gloating. Gloating doesn't matter right? We needed to lose because it will make us stronger so this is the best thing that could have happened. This is one of those sort of physical epiphanies, a slap in the face, a wake up call. I promise never to bait gooners on Twitter again or laugh at animated gifs of them crying. Seriously, had Lennon started instead of Niko we would have won the game. So Lennon has to start all remaining games and we'll win them all. Job done. That's what we need to do. We beat them at home, they beat us at their home. Points cancelled out then, all square then. Doesn't matter then. Might as well not count the derby games because of that.
Someone kill me. How am I meant to go to work tomorrow? All the gooners will be there early, newspaper cut outs plastered over their work desks, they'll even be gooners parading up and down the office floor that don't even work there. They'll be everywhere, all in their red colours gloating and boasting waving around DVD's of the Invincibles season in my face barking about shadows and 1961. That's it now, they're back in the title race and our season is over. We were wrong, we aint better than them. This single game of 90 minutes proves that beyond doubt. We've over-rated ourselves all season long. This is a disaster that we will simply not recover from. Utd will dick us next week and we'll be the ones looking up at a gap by the end of the season. Redknapp hasn't got a clue how to structure a side and select the right players and as for the Luka and Bale...sell them, cash in, and consolidate for the Europa League next season. I can't cope with the pressure. I don't want us to compete any more. It's too stressful.
We played poorly, we got what we deserved. No point ignoring it. Tactically not set up correctly, not enough of anything to muster up a sufficient challenge. Too much roaming. Fact is, they turned up for it and we didn't. That is surely all that counts. They were two nil down and thirty minutes later it's five two to them. There is no running away from it. Can't really complain if you never truly competed. Unacceptable from all concerned.
It's still one result, even if it always hurts to lose against them more so than any other loss. And this probably ranks up there with the worst of them. A harsh brutal reminder that nothing can ever be taken for granted. That's what expectancy can do. Still better to be here regardless of the result than to be stuck in the late 1990s and early 2000s when another defeat was added to a collective that anchored us to mid-table. As for them, only singing when they're winning. They'll have the bin bags out again soon enough. Clutching at beating us 5-2 will just belittle them further in the long run, much like the days when we held onto punctured victories like it meant so much more than it did.
Those last few sentences will only mean something if we remember this day and move forwards and consolidate our position. Onto the next game.
We've had our pride stolen. We need to claim it back. We need to stop believing in the hype. We have to be unified and we have to fight. We need to graft. Prove me right, Tottenham.
Why is acceptance so much like denial?
The animal from the swamp wiped the mud off its face and proceeded to bite a massive chunk out of the mid-drift of it's hunter, feasting on it until he bled out. The attacker attacked, left for dead. The colour red covering his pale white face. This is what happens when you only shoot to wound and not kill. Aim for the head not a limb.
The game was almost a throwback to the early 2000s. Gutless. Lack of full blooded commitment. No sustained tempo. Take the lead, let it slip. And so on. That new founded mental belief evaporated and was replaced with jelly for brains. When you make Theo Walcott look good you know it's been a fairly catastrophic day. No doubt on the plane for the Euros off the back of that performance. You can't even laugh at the irony, what with one or two home fans seeking the exit at 2-0, ye of little faith, singing negativity one moment and positivity the next. How fickle football is. I much I hate it at times like this.
It means more than three points but for the moment, we'll have to be contradictory and just treat it like that's all it means. You wont be able to get away from them now. Probably the first time in a year or so that they'll pleasantly remind you of their existence.
Did we expect that result? Of course not. Neither did they. Pundits and fans - based on form - thought the team in white would have too much for the team in red. Form thrown completely out of the window, what a cliché, what an obvious twist to the story. What a disappointment. What a humiliation. Can only hope this is an isolated blip, a spike for them, a dip for us.
I guess being favourites in the eyes of most played straight into their hands. This game, excluding the two against the Mancs at the start of the season, is the first time a strong Spurs side has been spanked. It's taken us to the end of Feb to finally get dicked. Perhaps the first true disappointing performance of the season. Boy do we pick 'em. Topped off with a sending off just to apply some extra pressure for the next game (Utd at the Lane). Scott Parker imploding. Somewhere, Chuck Norris laughs out loud.
Players need to take themselves back to when it was 2-0 and truly appreciate the footballing suicide that followed so that this ilk of surrender never happens so easily again. We should never be arrogant and carefree. It doesn't suit us. Players and fans alike. Even at 2-0 something did not sit right (aside from the fact it should have been 1-0, hey Gareth?).
Should have stepped it up, ruthless and relentless in mind and body after the opening five minutes. The players need to take themselves back to the moment of collapse. They need to hurt off the back of this as much as we are hurting. They're not alone either. Tactically it was a cluster capitulation of crap. Too deep. Not enough width. Not enough of Lennon. 442 leaving us too exposed. Thoughts of Sandro. Hindsight, how you tease me. I can't be alone in noticing them lot were not too bright in defence either, when we did manage to apply forward movement. They displayed spirit and guile. We didn't. Oh 'Arry, what went wrong? Arguably his worst day as Spurs gaffer.
Failed on the pitch, failed on the chalkboard.
We gift wrapped the game by simply being present without a worthy enough presence. Always a danger, even against a wounded animal that wants to prove to the world it can still run. I said this would be a potential issue in the build up to the game and thanks to the complete lack of footballing karma, the Gods persist in favouring the past rather than looking towards the future.
I have to be deeply philosophical about this. Sure, everyone is dishing out spankings to each other (ooh) and at times you can argue they go against form and stature based on what's transpired this season. And one game does not define a season or a team. I love how football works. One bad performance and one good performance and everything that happened before is no longer relevant, even though it all goes back to normal a week later.
Still doesn't excuse what happened. Can't say I'm happy, can comfortably admit to being numb and dumbfounded. It hurts. More so because its a loss against a broken Arsenal side that will probably go on to lose in the coming weeks and deem this result nothing more than a moral victory. Which is still hardly acceptable. Expectancy is an ugly thing. We never wanted to accept defeats against them when we were rubbish for near enough a decade but we accepted the reality. It's equally difficult to accept what's happened today when we've been London's top side all season.
They will no doubt use this as a catalyst to turn it into a season defining performance (although quite how their persistent problems can be repaired off the back of one win is anyone's guess). Much like we need to use it as a catalyst to come back from this and regain our swagger and confidence. It was nothing more than an anomaly, right? Defending all at sea, key players lost in drowning waves. We made it easy for them, yeah? Water bottles on the sidelines no doubt grinning with relief as smugly as the one that usually torments. Today tormenting us instead. Let's please just get back to the basics.
Typical Spurs? No. Just a reminder that even a side that's embraced momentum and progressed forward through out the season can still be susceptible to having its mouth smashed out of place.
It probably is typical Spurs, doing it the hard way, making sure we suffer here and there. It's probably why we remain so consistent with our support. Always be prepared for the worst because it has a habit of turning up uninvited.
The battle, today, has been lost. The war is about to begin. Not with them. But with the remaining games we have to contest. We just have to prove it to ourselves by dismantling the our opponents. The result might end up doing them more harm than good in the long run, papering over the cracks. They were not meant to defeat us so effortlessly. But to cite that catalyst again, it's not unknown for such results to galvanise a side against all the odds. Let this be a warning.
There was no masterful tactical genius at play. Just application. They made it happen, we allowed it to happen. It hurts even more for us thanks to those heightened expectations we took into the game. It hurts even more because we should have gone in 2-0 at the break. It's pretty much the most ridiculous of outcomes that no one predicted.
We now have to prove we remain the better team across the season by manning the **** up showing some of that seasoned tenacity that has kept us top three for so long and see this run-in through.
We'll sing for the shirt, the players will play for it.
The most poignant thing I've read in the aftermath is being written off for 4th spot after losing to Pompey in the semi-final of the FA Cup a couple of seasons back. That side was up against a gruelling fixture list, bare bones and backs to wall. We are far more equipped for a response this time round. In defeat, we have to make it that we are the ones that are galvanised.
The second most poignant thing shared was that our defeats are sporadic. Our rivals, in defeat, are systematic.
Don't knee jerk.
Still third. Still in our hands.
One thing that's sticking with me at the moment is that thanks to the lofty position and the accolades and all the positive sound-bites and of course not forgetting the facts relating to form...we go to the Emirates as a team expected by some many to win. Wasn't that long ago we couldn't muster a win away from home against any of the considered 'big clubs'. We've only recently punctured that unwanted record (last year at the Emirates and Anfield) so this derby day on Sunday will require us to consolidate the new found belief we've stamped across the league this season and truly, definitively, once and for all prove we've grown up and don't mind invading someone else's patch and giving them a good smacking (that's a metaphor for the football rather than any norty business outside).
This isn't about coming back from the dead like last season. We've done plucky one too many times. This is about playing the Tottenham way, with pace and style. Playing without fear and playing to win not survive. No doubt they will also embrace pace and their own style and attack us. Best midfield wins. The irony is lost on them however, believing we are the ones that remain in their shadow when the reality is, they refuse to step out of the shadow cast down on them by distant memories of former glories.
Caution from within however, even a slight sense of nerves or an inability to focus and its not beyond the realms of possibility to get knocked out, blind sided. But if there's one thing this Spurs side don't struggle with these days is knowing what's expected of them and delivering it.
I hope I'm right. I hope their position flatters them and we flatten them.
Time to find out how big our balls are.
Episode 31 of The Fighting Cock podcast will be released Saturday after midday on itunes and the FC website (click on image below). It's a North London Derby special. Ooh, I can feel it in my bones, I'm going all tingly...North London is ours, North London is ouuuuuuuuurs...
For the podcast archive click here.