The North London Derby - Does it Matter?
The North London Derby is a working class rivalry built up over a century of competition as to who the Kings of North London are. It still stirs great rivalry today and for many decades it was the success of Arsenal vs the beautiful football of Tottenham. For sure Arsenal have a dozen more titles than Spurs, won far more trophies than Spurs, but that is what added to the rivarly - which has not really been a rivalry in competitive terms until Mauricio Pochettino took over and after 20 years of dominations, Spurs have begun to be ascendant over Arsenal.
Here is the current day problem and it is two fold :
Spurs are building a new billion dollar stadium, which is expected to be ready at the start of next season. Both Spurs and Arsenal are a part of a billion dollar business called the Premier League and the best seats in the new stadium are for the privileged boxes which either the rich can afford or working class folk so besotted by football, that they will have spend a huge chunk of their working class wages on a very expensive treat. In short football today caters for the rich and plays off its past connection as a working class support.
The other problem is that as Arsenal lose their superiority over an ascendant Spurs, it is now longer the imperial power of Arsenal vs the inferiority complex of Tottenham. It is becoming a superior Tottenham vs Arsenal supporters who still think like they have Divine Right of Kings. The reality among young kids is many of them are becoming new Tottenham supporters. They are inspired by England stars like Harry Kane, Deli Alli, Eric Dier and even the merging Harry Winks - rather than the foriegn acquisitions that lace the present Arsenal side.
Pochettino has not only begun to give the Tottenham team a nastier and more competitive mindset, but is focus on developing players from the youth team is beginning to give England its own nucleus of internationals dominated by players coming through the Tottenham youth academy. So it is that Pochettino himself privately does not want his players fixated on Arsenal, but to think at the highest level of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, PSG, Real Madrid and the Manchester clubs. He knows and cedes that the old North London Derby match is still a fixture fans and players pay attention to.
An American film crew filmed a documentary about the North London Derby shortly before Arsenal upset the current odds and beat Spurs 2-0 at the Emirates. It was not a result the pundits had forseen, and the result of Arsenal players playing at their absolute best and the Tottenham team having a bad day at the office.
Earlier today, the script of Tottenham ascendancy was back on track and Spurs 1-0 win today was the most dominant 1-0 we could see. The reality was that Tottenham nearly gave Arsenal the opportunity to steal a draw because of multiple missed chances. While Harry Kane scored, he could have scored 4 more goals on a good day, and then there were inexplicable and selfish misses from other Spurs players including Son and Lamela, who both still need to develop their football brain and learn to make a pass to Tottenham players wide open. Especially Lamela who had Erikson in acres of space and who decided that he should shoot at a good goalkeeper from an acute angle. Erikson has the maturity of a great footballer and made that run to space - and so Arsenal were lucky that Tottenham players were still misfiring, though today they were running circles around the Arsenal team.
This begs the question why we as Tottenham supporters who after a prior century of watching Arsenal domination, are on the cusp of being the ascendant football power in North London for this century. Yet here is the problem, Tottenham should be seeking to be the best team in Europe rather than the best team in London and certainly not limit themselves to the best in North London. This rivalry now should be something Arsenal fans look forward to, but Spurs fans need to be more global in their mindset. They need to see Tottenham as a part of a new World Super League. It was Arsenal who were desperate for the 3 points on offer today, but instead saw Tottenham move up to 3rd position, placing greater pressure on Chelsea and Liverpool not to become the clubs that stumble and lose the coveted Champions League top 4 qualification spots.
Spurs placed 3rd in a two-horse race two years ago, and Spurs had surrendered 2nd place that year to Arsenal, last year they made it official that Arsenal would finish below them for the first time in two decades. Today, they begun assuring the pundits who think great things are happening at Tottenham that Spurs are the real deal. Yet they will only become the real deal once they harden their mindsets even more. In many ways the Spurs team are still a young team rather than a team of ruthless champions. They may have the skill, but they don't have the will or killer finishing power of Manchester City who have a 20 point lead over Tottenham in the league.
Being that Tottenham is becoming the 21st Century fan favourite across school yards and Spurs no longer need to play out the story of having great players but not a great team, it is time for Spurs fans to recognize that rivalry against Arsenal is not what it once was. Spurs players need to start thinking of much bigger things than winning a North London Derby. For sure they will still need to play it for hardcore fans, but the next generation of Tottenham fan is being born and football is a billion dollar game being played at the most global of levels. Kings of North London is now a much more shallower title than Champions of Europe.
It is like Real Madrid waiting to play Athletico Madrid. Spurs used to be Athletico Madrid but dress in the same white kit as Real Madrid, now the Lilly Whites can become Kings of the White Kit also - because that is the kit they will be wearing if they ever hope to go on and win the Champions League and qualify for the Champions League year after year. It is a time to be winners and start a new legacy that is a 21st Century. That 20th Century Arsenal team should be viewed as yesterdays news. Spurs have much bigger fish to fry once they move into their spanking new 61,000 seater stadium.