This is it
If we don't beat them on Saturday we don't deserve to win the league.
There, I said it.
This isn't just about staking a claim for top stop. It's about finishing above them if the summit is not within our reach. There's no substantial gap this time to create a false sense of security. There's no excitable hype to produce a downward spiral. There's far too much self-awareness that transcends basic mathematics. This is now borderline spiritual. You're praying to a God and you don't even recognise religion.
We can not lose to them. They'll be saying the exact same thing. This game might as well just exist in a bubble, separated from the rest of the fixture list. Separated from the rest of everything. If they do the unmentionable, they go equal on points with us. We go six points clear if victorious and have the extra point advantage of a superior goal difference.
This game is pivotal, so perhaps emotionally I'm exaggerating its importance beyond the norm of a North London derby. Although let's be honest, there's no such thing as an unimportant clash between us and them.
We've seen it all before. We think a result in our favour will create a new dawn that leads to a power-shift. The position we find ourselves in this time is brand new. It's new because they actually get it, they accept we could win the title. It's the first time they'd admit to it too. It's the first time we believe it beyond the realms of the fantastical. I was wrong. We've not seen this before. Not for a very long time.
There's still an argument to be had that this match-up might fail to be defining. Especially if it finishes in a draw. I just can't pull myself away from the strong possibility a defeat (for one half of North London) would sink deep into the psyche an air of finality that could be impossible to reverse.
I've heard some Arsenal fans state they'd feel guilty about winning the title because they've been so apologetic with their football, lacking conviction and belief. I'm sure that's just them processing the five stages of grief in preparation for the worst case scenario, something all fans go through. It's a defensive mechanism that helps to protect ones ego. Regardless, their fans are reflecting their teams mindset and vice versa. We're not the only ones with a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Arsene Wenger has been maligned and criticised for decision making that defies logic. A close friend (a gooner with sense) thinks them winning the title will mean his approach and his stubbornness will be cemented further when they're actually desperate for complete change. There's grieving but this is maddening. Regardless of their philosophical introspective whirlpool, they lack refined shape and forceful purpose. I'm sure they wouldn't care about the present day complaints if by May they're clear of everyone. For them, regardless of what they do after this weekend, they'd want to first damage our chances and allow Leicester to march on. Considering what's at stake at the Lane, it would be criminal for either side not to 'turn up'.
I stand by what I said that Spurs can't choke. There's still the potential that we'll be stretched. A full strength team is formidable. One or two players rotated because of injuries to others and we might not be as polished. Perhaps my conviction has been hurt by the West Ham result but considering our season long mind-set, I'd be shocked if we didn't showcase the very best of what we're capable of come Saturday. This is a massive test of character and one that we simply have to pass.
The expectancy on us is different to theirs. We were never perceived as contenders but we've got ourselves involved and the landscape of the Premier League this season is practically screaming the word opportunity. We can't ignore the reality that this is a stupendous chance, one that might not be available next year if the flux corrects itself and the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City wake up. Even an echo of glory, Tottenham's favourite tag-line, would make me feel a little despondent. This feeling exists because of what Mauricio Pochettino has achieved. We can't be too downhearted but still...you know...it's them lot and it's been twenty years of this f**king sh*t.
I'm not naive or delusional, I know there's a good chance we wont win the league, but I refuse to accept that eventuality. What's the point in giving up and expecting, inviting the worse? There's no point in taking football and fragmenting it, fearing what hasn't happened and explaining why it won't. You can't perpetually live within the confines of the five stages. Screw the five stages. You have to live for the moment, in the moment to truly appreciate the moment. Just look at them lot down the road and how emotionally abused they are wanting and demanding, living on tenterhooks, eternally conflicted.
As I sit here and try to quantify (positively fragmenting, right?) what needs to be done and what has to be avoided, I'm reminded that it's not all about us. I can't discount the possibility that Leicester might not drop enough points to be over-taken. So regardless of the end game, beating Arsenal because they're Arsenal is unavoidably imperative. We've never quite managed to break them. A convincing win might just about do that. What follows is simply another challenge that needs completing in the time left. It's do or die all over the shop.
So in conclusion...
Them lot down the road are expected to be involved at the end from the start of every campaign but they always stumble. Deep down, they don't seem to believe it enough. Be it the system that degrades or the mind of Wenger. You might say we don't have the experience of being this close to something so monumental but Arsenal have a psychological barrier that always stops them from consolidating. Two different types of problems, both manageable if the right level of discipline is applied. Both ultimately rewarding if overcome.
Amazingly, they might not have to find a cure for their mental block. It's one of those not so wonderful paradoxical mind f*cks where a misfiring Arsenal side could pip one of the most professional Spurs teams we've had for decades. The true favourites, Leicester City, look on with their untouchable exuberance on constant display, ignoring the pressure others are struggling to ignore.
Arsenal are meant to be a wounded animal, ready to attack and fight back. I guess that makes us the same thing? Considering how fragile they are perceived to be by their own supporters, they'd be comparable to a fawn that's snapped a bone and is about to freeze to death in the sub zero temperatures during a cold winters night. It would only be fair as the hunter to aim and shoot. Put it out of its misery. I just don't trust wildlife. They like to play dead.