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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Arsenal v Spurs, 19.03.2000

Last season's game - Arsenal 0 Spurs 0, 14.11.98
This season's home game - Spurs 2 Arsenal 1, 07.11.99
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           8   4   2   2     8-7   14
Away           7   1   5   1     6-6    8
Total (Prem)  15   5   7   3    14-13  22
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)  15   5   7   3    14-13  22
Total (Div 1) 110 40  24  46   158-168 109
Grand Total   125 45  31  49   172-181 131

And so to another meeting between the two North London clubs!

By any standards. Tottenham have had a very disappointing season. It is so long since they have figured in the chase for the championship (we last finished as high as 3rd in season 1989-90 and last directly challenged for the title as long ago as 1984-85 when we finished 3rd behind Everton and Liverpool. In that time, our only honours have been the FA Cup victory in 1991 and the Worthington Cup last season.

Arsenal have also had a disappointing season. They crashed out of the Champions League at the first hurdle but have since made good progress in the UEFA Cup, where they look likely to qualify for the Semi-Finals. But they have been knocked out of both domestic cups and fallen well off the pace in the League.

One of the reasons both clubs have had a disappointing season has been their lack of sharpness in front of the opposition's goal. Spurs finally came good against a very disappointing Southampton side last Saturday, when we won 7-2. But that win was largely because two very important midfield players - Leonhardsen and Freund - had returned to the team after a long spell on the sidelines. They restored balance to a lopsided team.

Arsenal's problems can largely be pinpointed to Bergkamp's long absence from the team. He, more than anyone else, even more than Pettit, is the man who makes Arsenal tick. When Bergkamp plays well, it is a major surprise if Arsenal lose. But when Bergkamp is out of sorts or indifferent as to what is happening around him, Arsenal misfire.

Sunday's match will be an interesting encounter. Arsenal have only conceded 11 goals at home whilst Spurs have only conceded 15 goals away. It is clear this match will turn on the efficiency of the respective defences. Much will depend on how well Spurs defenders concentrate on their game, particularly in the closing stages when they have a habit of conceding late goals, particularly in the away leg of the UEFA Cup tie against Kaiserlautern.

The fabled Arsenal defence is still creaking along but they have not been playing as a unit very often this season due to injuries and advancing years. Adams and Seaman have spent long spells in the treatment room whilst Dixon and Winterburn have both been dropped at various times because it is clear they cannot cope with the heavy schedule of two matches a week. Keown has missed a number of games because of suspension for ill-timed tackles. They have been around so long now that it will be difficult to recognise new players when they finally break through on a regular basis. Silvinho seems to be keeping Winterburn on the sidelines at present but I am sure Winterburn will not be happy with keeping the bench warm. A rare departure from Highbury has been Stephen Hughes, who has left for Everton. It is rare for players to leave either Highbury or White Hart Lane and rarer still for players to have a good career after leaving either camp. The problems Nicolas Anelka has inflicted on himself at Real Madrid are a case in point.

Tottenham have been looking high and low for a striker this season and thought they had found one in John Hartson. That deal collapsed because of doubts about his knee. No sooner had the deal collapsed than Hartson was whipped into hospital for a double hernia operation. Some fitness!!!! So it came as a pleasant relief to see Steffan Iversen scoring a hat-trick and Chris Armstrong twice even if it was against a hapless Southampton, undoubtedly the worst team to visit White hart Lane this season! And then to hear that Middlesbrough had beat Arsenal, 2-1, at the BT Cellnet Stadium, a day later ..... oh! frabjous joy in the Lilywhite half of North London!!!!

I have not meandered down past byways because fans on both sides will have their own memories of past games. The most dramatic of all matches probably occurred on Monday 3rd May 1971. I will say no more about that particular night but never was there a match with so much riding on it and never were there so many people fighting to get in through the turnstiles that night. But Spurs fans had their revenge on April 14th 1991! Both sides have 5-0 thrashings to recall. Both were equally memorable. Even I as a Spurs fan had to applaud Chippy Brady's performance on December 23rd 1978 whilst I retain happy memories of the Easter Monday 1983 performance from Spurs when Mark 'Bilko' Falco and Chrissie Hughton scored twice in revenge for the earlier defeat.

Both sides have had great players but few can claim to have straddled both camps and yet remained popular within the ranks of the enemy. Pat Jennings is one of the very few players who have played for both teams and yet has been warmly applauded by both Spurs and Arsenal fans alike. Those of us who were privileged to see him will know just how good he was. He played in many big matches and was very unflappable. He rarely admonished a player who had made a mistake. A glare was enough to rebuke the defender in question.

So many memories crowd in for me down the years. One of the best goals I have ever seen at Highbury was scored by Ralph Coates on 11th May 1972. Nothing was at stake and Spurs were leading 1-0. Arsenal took a poor corner and the ball was cleared to the hovering Coates. The former Burnley player tore upfield with the entire Arsenal side chasing him. Barnett came out to reduce the angles and Coates slipped past him and stroked the ball into the net .........

Who will win on Sunday? Arsenal will undoubtedly be tired after their exertions against Werder Bremen on Thursday night. Taking this into account and the fact that Spurs morale will be high, I suspect the likeliest outcome of the match is a draw. I don't think Spurs will be able to win given the fact Arsenal have only lost two games at home even though we have won four games away.

All I hope is that it is a clean game, there are no unsightly scenes and that if either side wins, it is for all the right reasons of pure football rather than ugly confrontation.


Cheers, Brian

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