Favourites v Underdogs
I've seen quite a few of us referencing the fact we are being perceived as favourites in the North London Derby. That's both the media and the fans believing Spurs have it done and dusted on paper and that it should easily translate on the field of play. I'd agree that our midfield is superior to theirs. I'd also cite the fact their defence plays out to the tune of the Keystone Cops.
They still possess quality (RvP) of the match-winning ilk. But so do we, in abundance, and we are on a roll (three wins on the trot). And we're at home. But then the self-doubt (it never goes away) gently reminds us that we don't tend to do well when expected to do well. We do better when we have less pressure weighing us down. Also, in a NLD, form goes out the window and effort can sometimes match the stronger opposition. Although in our case, that still meant no win against the old enemy for many years. Until recently.
It's almost role reversal this. Arsenal are Tottenham in red and white, whilst Tottenham are the Tottenham we have worked so had to become after 15 years in the wilderness. But still prone to the odd lapse. Major differences? We strengthened in the summer and retained our top players. They lost their top players and signed less than glamorous replacements. You can see why they are regarded as underdogs. They choke more than we do.
Still, there's hardly anything between both sides these days, except perhaps for Wenger and his experience at the very top level and the fact his side have always been at that level, even when others have suggested a 'crisis' or transition.
On paper? We should win. On the field of play? Honestly? I'll be very shocked if Arsenal can show their past seasoned focus and intensity (and desire) considering their form and their fragmented team, punctured with the ordinary and average in amongst the class. I'll be disappointed if we are the ones to choke and allow them to best us. We have the more settled side. They're the ones who stand before us depleted. And yet the positivity is still not embraced.
Teams can always punch above their weight. We've done it many times in the past. Not to dismiss or write off Arsenal, but a pulsating powerful show of strength and unity in our midfield will consume theirs and allow our front-line to punish their back four. My only concern is RvP. Take him out of the equation and it will be the first time in my life-time that my heart will not dance to the beat of nerves. He'll play, which means there are no underdogs or favourites in this game. Not matter how you choose to use paper to prove a point.
There's simply a team that wants it more than the other. I'm obviously going to claim that team is the team in Lilywhite. I hope the players wearing the shirt believe in the shirt as much as we do.
Embrace the positivity. Prove we're the favourites, prove we're the top dogs and let them bask in the indignity as the plucky underdog that tries ever so hard and gets nothing. Life is harsh. We've been at the end of it so many times in the past. It's time to give some of it back.
Winners of John Crace's 'Vertigo' (original article here): Matt and @betambeau88 - congrats. Email me (use the contact form) your name and address.