Tottenham have returned the favor to Arsenal
Tottenham began this Premier League season under Nuno Espírito Santo with three consecutive victories with the same score of 1-0 and led the table alone. Meanwhile, Arsenal lost their opening three games by a combined score of 0-9 and settled in last place, with Mikel Arteta on the verge of being sacked. But then there was a “police U-turn” in the fortunes of both North London clubs: Tottenham went to the dark side and lost three games in a row with a combined score of 1-9, while Arsenal produced a series of three victories.
The start of the season was crowned by the North London derby in the sixth round, after which the teams were level on points in the standings. Arsenal won 3-1, and not in fact, but in fact it was a rout: three goals to Hugo Llaurice in the 34th minute, and Son Heung-Min answered in the end when the outcome was already a foregone conclusion. A month later, Tottenham sacked Nuno Espírito Santo and appointed Antonio Conte as head coach. At that time Arsenal were already higher in the table. As it is now.
Spurs have repaid their first-round defeat with dignity
Two rounds before the end of the season and after the derby defeat, Arsenal are only one point ahead of Tottenham. Spurs were two points behind at the time of Conte’s appointment, meaning that with the arrival of the Italian, the principle rivals and competitors for the top four in the Premier League are moving on parallel courses, and after the success in the North London derby, Tottenham even leads by a slim margin – 50:49 in points since Conte stepped in the game.
It would be a shame for Spurs if they are one point short of qualifying for the Champions League title they lost under the previous manager. The fate of fourth place in the APL will be decided in an absentee contest, but Tottenham escalated the duel with a confident win over Arsenal, who would have almost solved the important task, even playing in a draw in the derby. However, Mikel Arteta’s team played like a typical Arsenal in an important match, presenting the image of a cowardly and spineless victim against a desperate predator who had a plan and the courage to execute it.
There was no antidote to Tottenham’s incisive attacks and dangerous standards, and the referee was ruthless against the Canaries: Paul Tierney awarded a penalty in the first half and then suspended Holding for two yellow cards received within seven minutes. And while Sohn earned his fateful fouls, Harry Kane converted a double. Immediately after halftime, his teammate set the final score to 3-0, which could have been bigger (the “expected goals” ratio was 2.82 xG to 0.36 xG). Thus, Tottenham responded to the first-round defeat with a rout, not only in sense, but also in fact.
Arsenal have a +1, Tottenham have a better goal difference and psychological advantage
With two rounds to go before the English Premier League’s finish line, the question of the top-four lineup remains open. In theory, Chelsea could still drop out of the top four, and then Arsenal and Tottenham would qualify for the Champions League together, but that is too unlikely an outcome: the Blues must suffer two defeats, while Arteta and Conte’s teams would each have two wins. Barring this fantasy scenario, the North London clubs would be in last place in the top-four. And now is a good time to look at their schedule in the last few rounds.
The fate of the fourth place is still in the hands of Arsenal: enough to win the remaining two games to not let Tottenham ahead. The trip to Newcastle will not be an easy walk for Arsenal, although the Magpies have already relaxed, having secured themselves from relegation to the Championship. “Everton are working on it, and it is possible that the Toffees will need a win in the last round, although right now Frank Lampard’s side are in a better position than Burnley and Leeds.
Tottenham will play Burnley and it will be a tough game. In February, Spurs lost to this opponent with a minimum score, but in a home game Antonio Conte’s team must dictate their terms, especially when there is a big prize at stake. Norwich, who are already relegated, are unlikely to be able to trip up Tottenham. Spurs are likely to pick up their six points, but will Arsenal do the same? It’s not so clear-cut, the more so that a big derby defeat won’t do away with the young team.