North London 1 Franchise 0
I hate the derby. I love it but I hate it. I have to be there, inside the stadium, to feel like I can influence the occasion. It's infinitely better to be distracted with everything going on around you as well as the football war out on the pitch. The chants, the abuse, the booze, the singularity of the Lilywhite tribe willing the team on. The blood and thunder can practically be tasted in the air. Your participation is undeniable. It's why attending a game, especially this one, is essential. It's why I was an absolute mess of nerves on Saturday. Sat on the sofa indoors, Billy No Mates with nothing more than my own deep dark thoughts, staring at the screen in front of me. It's no way to endure ninety minutes of this hellish emotional dance we do where the end result is to avoid tripping up and landing flat on your face. DON'T LOSE. JUST DON'T. If I could fall into stasis for the duration of the match, wake up and be told we've won - I'd gladly take it.
Of course, later in the day when I sat back and re-watched the game knowing that we won because I choose to suffer through the live proxy of television, I was able to digest the game in all its glory without having to bite through my fingers in anticipation for something horrific to happen. Spurs had this. They had this in their back pocket and even when Arsenal had the chance to rob two points, the Gods rejected their desperation and slapped them back down into their box. This was the most one sided derby for an age. So much so that in amongst all the jubilation of the victory most of us were left scratching our heads in amazement that the game didn't finish five nothing.
On one side, we had us. A team with shape and movement and purpose but most importantly with desire. Every player a reflection of their coach. On the other side, there was them lot. Plucky but with no belief in their own manager and grasping onto whatever broken ethic they pretend they're following. The first half was tight, the second was a mauling. I truly think that Harry Kane's sitter (the second header) was the moment that Arsenal avoided a catastrophic mental capitulation. Because 2-0 would have comfortably gone on to being the five we deserved. Alas, we only got the one and wasted countless opportunities and perhaps Wenger and his deficiencies will live to see another day because 1-0 doesn't sound too shabby a loss on paper. If there is one thing they're good at it's avoidance of reality by distorting and embracing fallacy. Their impending chaos for now remains a potentiality that is only teased for the future but doesn't yet exist in the present.
The fact it was 1-0 for so long gave way to the inevitable final ten minutes of nerves and that one chance that left most of us fearing the biggest bitch slap conceivable. I've watched the replay of the Lacazette shot over and over again. Someone pointed out how well Hugo did in making the target that little bit trickier for the striker to find. I still see divine intervention, the ball was going in until it oh so subtly bounced and curled the odd millimetre away and beyond the post. Joy.
What is truly wonderful is that for years we've bemoaned not having that c*nty element in our side whilst other top clubs with world class players still endeavoured to cheat - and got accolades for their winning mentality. Spurs do it, and everyone sh*ts the bed. The salt post match was a sight to behold. Almost as delicious as the Liverpool fans crying after we dived and cheated our way to a point at Anfield.
Apparently, gooners are claiming we lost 2-1 on aggregate. You don't get a trophy for winning three points. LOL, u wot m8? Imagine living like that, in delusion, unable to accept anything that doesn't involve you lording it up over a rival fan and never being able to take it when dished back out to you. Deafened by your own ultra defensive propaganda in an echo chamber of lies. Such are their levels of petulant reluctance to admit the truth.
We all accepted ours when we lost to them earlier in the season. We didn't turn up. On this occasion, they did and did so with discipline to contain us for the first half but showcased little in endeavour to push for more. Because that's them at their very best. When there is no pressure, they excel. When there is, they crumble. One goal and it was done.
They are more old Spurs than we'll ever be. A team of marquee big name signings, contract hoarders and very average players all glued together with a single dimension of erratic and non-reactive tactics. Gone are the days they swaggered around knowing they would win, toying before shredding us with pace, technicality and physicality. Along with vibrant, devastating football. Now they seek to survive unless they are exaggerating their victories whilst flat-track bullying teams that are shallower than they are.
For all the money spent on forwards they have no spine. They should be so much better than this but they choose not to be.
It's football porno.
We had everything.
Dembele was a magnificent paragon of fluid beautiful brutality. Like Godzilla with finesse, skyscrapers collapsing in anticipation of his touch. He owned the turf and spent the game delicately brushing aside the children in red surrounding him. The gulf in class was monstrous. He was written off earlier in the season by many of us. Fitness, hips - whatever you wish to focus on as a reason for his demise, he looked spent. 'Old' age finally pulling him back towards mortality. Yet in key games recently he has found a renaissance. He's bossed it. You can see why he's so highly respected, at Spurs and by his peers. Whilst some bemoan his lack of goals or critique his inability to split a defence with a visionary pass - they all miss the point entirely.
Whilst we've been blessed with defenders that playmake from deep or deliver that decisive cute ball forward, Mousa's strength is in possession. Through it, he dictates the game, in holding onto the ball while he glides past the opposition like the Silver Surfer riding the cosmos. Play opens up around him. Let Eriksen worry about the diagonal ball into the box when Mousa side ways passes it to him. Our momentum as the team we've become and the team we're going to evolve into began with Dembele as the centre point. Our football is reliant on runners, on stretching the back-line to then space invade and it simply doesn't work if we don't have midfielders that can either distribute the ball quickly or one that will not surrender it. I guess we need to win the title soon for him to be rewarded with the plaudits he deserves.
Dele Alli displayed grit and bite and spite, time wasting and grafting like a true ambassador for Pochettino's mantra. Is he the most hated player in the league? My word I hope so.
Son was another that worked tirelessly. Eric Dier was comfortable, so much so you almost forgot he was there - such is his temperament to control the space around him, be it alone or populated with opposing players. Kane, oh man oh man, what a leader. Whether he's spearheading or playing balls from deep, he gets it. He understands it. Not just in the derby but any given game. He bullied their defence all day long and his goal was simple as well as emphatic.
Davies and Trip, the two easy targets for scapegoating, persistently perform to standards they're not often credited for. Perhaps Spurs worked out how to beat the little teams that turn up to park up. Or perhaps, once more, we get to see just how much of a team this is and how form is temporary and some require the failures to truly blossom with success. Danny Rose, Ben Davies...time healed the mistakes 'we' the supporters made when seeking finality with our opinions.
Jan was again imperious in a lovable way and not just at defending and playing the ball out but also fathering a still raw Sanchez. We care, the players give a sh*t about it and are not just going through the motions. On a day like this, we are leaders all over the pitch. This is what I want from my team, everything else is a bonus. If the players perform like you would if you were blessed to wear the shirt then very little is wrong. I feel like this whether it's Arsenal or WBA but more so against them lot down the road. It's pivotal against them lot.
Then there's Erik Lamela calling Jack Wilshere a 'p*ssy'. What glory this is, the Argentine stood there with the type of smirk the Joker would pull when telling Batman he's booby trapped a kindergarten playground with explosives. I'm reminded of what one of the dads on the school run (a gooner) told me a week ago. He said Tottenham would win easily. He said not enough of the Arsenal team would tune into the tempo required to compete on the day. He was right. Wenger's stubbornness will continue to hold them back and yet somehow they find ways to win cups and still hold onto faint hope for more. I guess that's better than them winning league titles. And if we continue to progress and others around us do so - then they get left behind.
This was the day we thrashed them 1-0 and in the aftermath I'm not even surprised.
Poch joking about him being Daniel Levy's birthday present. Kane accepting his 100 goal boots (post Liverpool) and referring to the players around him as his mates, his friends. This is what we belong to lads. This is why we don't fester in insecurity, struggling to associate with those representing us. Whist Arsenal churn out fake social media hype, attempting to appease their fragile fanbase that want to bask in self-congratulatory boasting - we get real men playing proper football with no bullsh*t attached. Win, lose or draw - you can only respect it for what it is because there is no other option. There's no backdoor to escape from. There's nowhere to hide. Heart on sleeve.
I wanted to write up a review of the game that did it justice but I honestly know that the experience of watching us pull them apart to then having to wait for that final whistle to secure the win is pretty much why football is fantastic and no words would ever do it justice. You have it all in your hands because it's deserved and yet somehow you can still lose it all. All of it. That's why football is great and horrible all at the same time. We hate it but love it more. There was no twist in this tale, not this time. This time we won and we all know that it means so much more than the three points.
It's been a decent week or so. Seven from nine. Beat Utd at a canter, should have beaten Liverpool and smashed Arsenal. Now for Juventus, twice finalists in the past three years of the Champions League. They've conceded one goal in their past sixteen games. There are no easy games. That fear, those nerves I felt pre-NLD and the way I feel right now is all the evidence I need to know that I'm enjoying the f*ck out of it. The pressure, it's an unavoidable consequence of chasing success. Life at the top is grand.
Gut wrenching news about Ryan Mason. Wish him well and hope Tottenham look after him.