Here we go then. Early Saturday lunch-time kick-off to control the pre-match drinking. We go top if we win. You got confetti at the ready? Don't be getting a tattoo of the league table if we do. It might only be for a few hours. Hedonistic.
A week of quotes, narrative, hyperbole, past
indiscretions and a blatant 'I'm not your friend any more' poke of the
tongue from Andre Villas-Boas to his former mentor Jose Mourinho. Come
on lads, it's only a game. Can't we all just be friends?
Actually, scrap that last suggestion.
What's that Jose? We can win the title? A post match bottle of wine? Don't trust him Andre! Step away from the Kool Aid!
versus Chelsea. There's no love lost when there was never any love to begin
with. It's a moody game. The atmosphere is intense. And away from Twitter it's even worse. It's also ugly (seriously, Burberry caps are
just not in vogue these days). One interesting arc to Saturday's game is
the call from the club/police to behave in the stands - language a prominent subject this
past week relating to the Y-word and the history of 'trouble' we've had
with the visitors from West London. But all this is just part and parcel
of match-day. Well, part and parcel of a selective few category A games where the club and police push awareness beyond any other game. I wonder why? Must be because it's a London derby and all the cockney is maddening.
Good to hear that the police will be acting on 'genuine anti-Semitism' at the game. So all eyes on the away end.
The narrative for the football itself is being branded as as a master v
apprentice clash. It's best ignored. Unless Jose replaces the dug-out ear flick with a light-saber duel.
Chelsea haven't quite set the world on fire yet. One
or two question marks on Jose's return and the impact he is having.
Seriously, what is it with this season? Anyone think there is something strange about how fast-paced the conclusions are smacking us in the face after every single twist? Ridiculous isn't it that the lack of patience in the game results in
unnecessary comparisons to past tenures. Although it's not always the best idea to return to a previous home. The caveat for Jose is the building is still the same, the expensive furniture might have changed in some of the rooms but there's still a bunch of ****s peering through the windows and one massive **** sitting on the living room sofa like he's the king of the castle.
We're all aware that Jose's teams hardly inspire to set anything on fire (relatives of one of the players might be prone to criminal activities but pretty certain arson isn't on the list) whilst we can also look back at AVB's early form of last season when similar stupid question marks we're chucked in his direction.
Talking of perspective - Rafa Benitez draws/plays negatively - is slagged off. Jose does it and it's tactical intent to secure the points in a shrewd calculated manner. Cue small sign on A4 with Biro markings lifted up in a stand in Stamford Bridge.
They possess talented, experienced players. Unfortunately that hasn't changed. They also have Willian.
What? Come on, allow it.
They also know what a London derby means to both sets of fans. Equally
so, they will know just how much of a ding dong these games can be
thanks to that fuel of passion from the stands that can really inspire
practically set up for the fall (that would be the easy next chapter to
write). One goal conceded, twenty scored. Won every game aside from a
single inconsequential blip. Unless you're a depressive and you suggest we haven't played anyone decent yet.
The tricky chapter would see us win convincingly and truly set the cat amongst the pigeons. Except it wouldn't be an ordinary cat. It would be an android-cat with the ability to hypnotise the pigeons with mind-lasers and led them into his layer where he would season and grill them.
I don't think the footballing press could quite handle a story arc that sees Andre 'destroyer of all things Harry Redknapp' Villas-Boas defeat Jose 'can do no wrong, he's soooo funny and brilliant' Mourinho.
Can you see us beating them?
Jose start Mata. Spurs lose. Status quo is reserved. The genius touch is reclaimed to the
master whilst the apprentice sobs having had his hand chopped off in the earlier duel (AVB attempting to out-do Jose's double-sided light-saber with a three-sided light-saber. Andre always with the extra dimensions).
We are favourites according to some. I don't frequent the bookies but I assume the odds are in our favour (?)
To be fair, I'm not as nervous about this game as previous ones. Pound for pound we can live with them. The true test is across the course of the season. But that isn't relevant. Nobody is thinking about next week and the week after. It's about this game and this game alone.
Okay, so it's less blood and thunder and form out of the window because both sides are depthy with quality and both managers astute and obsessive with details (rather than battles of old when we always lined up as underdogs).
Cue 'game of chess with jet pack pace' analogies.
I think pound for pound, in some positions we are equal, perhaps even better than they are. As a unit? We'll see on the day. Do they have better players than us? Sure. I can think of one or two I'd gladly take off their hands. Both teams are strong. One has a touch more positive momentum than the other. Chelsea haven't yet found the dominating aggressive bullish performances of old. Here's hoping they don't.
However, we're still evenly matched for the season ahead and it's not the condensing/patronising 'ooh little old Tottenham might do well' sound-bites filling the air. We just have to go beyond the 'potential' and the 'hope' and produce the defining result(s).
Gone are the days you screamed at Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas to 'SHUT UP YOU MAD MAN, STOP SAYING WE'RE BETTER THAN THEM BEFORE THE GAME BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO JINX IT' when next thing you know he's jinxed it. Our players speak with belief and conviction post-match and you think to yourself...'yeah, preach brother'.
That little % of nerves (I can't lie, the fear adds an edge to a game, if you were never scared of losing you wouldn't appreciate the victory half as much) is not a throwback to the Spurs of old when it was a given we'd lose or botch it up. The nerves are genuine and certifiable consequences that someone might lose and it might be us. Thanks to luck or genius or being outplayed or whatever - because that still happens when the very top sides meet.
Best to focus on the positives rather than dwell on darkness. But a fear of losing because we're rubbish, well, the 90s called and we sent that box of delight straight back to them (then smashed the flux capacitor to pieces).
Here's to AVB and that magnificently croaky voice and facial hair. I hope the selection is tight. The midfield is beastly and the wings have pace and inverted invention. Take that momentum and use it as a punch to knock out the opposing side that have yet to find their stride.
Football, if it's anything, it's harsh. It can sometimes be magical. It's never boring against Chelsea. We made mistakes last season in the home game against them (individual and tactical). A lot has happened since then. I won't be looking up at those footballing Gods that always prefer to mock my faith. I'll instead look into the bright shine of our Lilywhite shirts, watch my life flash before me...and pray.
Then get drunk and shout a lot.