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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Arsenal v Spurs, 31.03.01

Last season's game - Arsenal 2 Spurs 1, 19.03.2000
This season's home game - Spurs 1 Arsenal 1, 18.12.2000
See the current injury list for all Premier League Teams
All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Arsenal

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           9   4   3   2     9-8   15
Away           8   1   5   2     7-8    8
Total (Prem)  17   5   8   4    16-16  23
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)   55 24  12  19    93-83  63
Away (Div 1)   55 16  12  27    65-85  46
Total (Div 1) 110 40  24  46   158-168 109
Total (Prem)  17   5   8   4    16-16  23
Total (Div 1) 110 40  24  46   158-168 109
Grand Total   127 45  32  50   174-184 132

Spurs travel to Highbury hoping to improve their position in the League before facing their North London rivals in a Cup Semi-Final the following weekend. For both clubs, this season has been profoundly disappointing. Arsenal may still be looking to progress in the Champions League but there is no denying their season has been deeply disappointing. They have not made the progress they had hoped to do so and there are clear signs that the defence, which has been their linchpin for years, is no longer the formidable barrier it once was.

Arsenal have played best when Tony Adams has been at the heart of their defence. He brings organisation and calm to the six yard box that clearly does not exist when others, particularly Grimandi, have to deputise for him. Up front, they have not been as incisive as they had hoped. Earlier in the season, Thierry Henry's goalscoring feats concealed the doubts that existed. Wiltord took longer to settle into the team than they would have liked. Bergkamp is no longer the force he once was and now makes the occasional cameo role, rather than the starring one. The rumours persist that Wenger will move on elsewhere when his contract is up in 2002. The Japanese Football Association have tried to persuade him to become their national coach.

But Arsenal's biggest disappointment must have been their failure to impose themselves as challengers to Manchester United domestically. It is one thing to march on in Europe but one's fans expect championships. It is galling for Wenger to realise that this is the poorest Manchester United side in recent years and yet they are still disappearing into the blue yonder yet again, possibly with a record gap between them as Champions and Arsenal as the runners-up.

Tottenham's supporters are pea green with envy. Many of their supporters have never known Tottenham to challenge for the championship and many will barely remember the last occasion Spurs won such silverware. There are many to whom the names of Blanchflower, White and Mackay, Mullery, Peters and Gilzean, Hoddle, Ardiles and Villa and many others are nothing more than names passed down from their fathers, who still drool at the memory of long forgotten exploits that can only be enjoyed through the medium of a video recorder.

Much of the last ten years has seen more mediocre football and twice the nightmare prospect of an unthinkable relegation from the top flight. Spurs fans skulk in the shadows when they go to the grounds of their London neighbours as they know they are the butts of many a joke at their expense. But since the turn of the year with the last figure being a '1', there has been a change in their outlook. They're swaggering more, the old anthems are being rehearsed and polished again, Chas 'n' Dave are in vogue again. It is almost as if a sleeping giant is awaking from its slumber through a nightmare and casting off the bad dreams.

Saturday's match will, I suspect, not be the usual match of high octane and blood and thunder. Both sides will be masking their powder for the far more important match the following weekend. The only interest for most of the supporters who pack Highbury this weekend will be how the hell they are going to get to Old Trafford next weekend. It is a logistical nightmare for anyone living in London, never mind those who live out in the sticks where public transport goes into the deep freeze on a Friday night until the following Monday morning.

I expect Saturday's match will be a quiet game with players on both sides anxious not to collect injuries ahead of next week's match. Both clubs will be praying that none of their international jet set return with injuries. So far Ledley King is the only Spurs player to return home early because of injury after picking up an injury whilst playing for England Under 21's at Barnsley last Friday.

There won't be much in this week's game, probably only one goal in it. If there is a goal scored, I think it may well come very late in the match. I wouldn't like to predict who will win it but suspect that Henry may well make a very late strike. I hope I'm wrong .........


Cheers, Brian

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