Let’s get the fluff out of the way. Great win against Wolves. Not in terms of how we played, but if you want to get a particularly annoying monkey off your back, the way to do it is to spend 75 minutes convincing him that he’s going to remain in situ before unleashing a finale of hitherto unknown full-on monkey-removal ninja lightning strikes on the cheeky little bastard.
And sorry to say it – I really enjoyed Berbatov’s hat-trick and I want him to do well. I know he shafted us, but I don’t expect players to act with class and grace away from the action. I’m just a sucker for those who show it on the pitch. Discuss.
Seen who we’re playing tonight?
I can go gallivanting to the likes of Bremen and Bangkok and even Berkshire all I like. I can be the big man who understands that fully functioning adults go to weddings that clash with home games. I can even enjoy the wedding immensely. But I know who I am. I’m natural born Tottenham Hotspur and I can’t stay away. Four months and twenty days since the Bolton game, it’s finally time to go back to White Hart Lane. With luck and skilful diary planning, I won’t be missing another game there this season.
Except Fulham, I always miss Fulham. But I never miss Arsenal. For once I don’t have the ache in the pit of my stomach that usually accompanies the build up. It’s undeniable that the Carling Cup is devalued by being in the Champagne Cup, even if we’ve pooh-poohed Arsenal fans for saying so in the past. It’s also harder to take the game as seriously when there’s a high chance the likes of Steven Caulker (prospect or not), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Jermaine Jenas (prospect or not) may be involved. It’s not even a semi-final, which just feels plain wrong.
But when it kicks off, it will look and feel like a proper match. There’s something about the pure and noble lilywhite juxtaposed with the vulgar and brazen red. It’s a game that has to be taken seriously by whoever is picked, and whoever is watching.
When I started this blog, my idea (which I’m still clinging on to) was that there would be less pointless Arsenal bashing than in other Spurs blogs. I do not like it when our players say that this can be the year we come ahead of Arsenal. It winds me up when we stand up to declare our hatred of them when we’re playing Blackburn or Sunderland. I’m not English and I don’t really care how many English players there are on our team or theirs. Except for one ill-advised comment to a builder at the Highbury building site a few years ago which I regret for a number of reasons, I do not make gags about kiddy fiddlers (unless we draw Young Boys). I’m not even going to call this post “kiddy fiddlers” to provoke a reaction. Each to their own, but I try to stay on the right side of the line of being that fully functioning adult I mentioned earlier – damn him.
But I’m also a football fan, and I love the irrationality of football. So irrationally, I hate them. Not their fans. Not their players. Just ‘them’. I see them through a Spurs-tinted prism, so I find it easier to dislike Fabregas or Van Persie than others might – I don’t really know. I find something about Pat Rice comical. I never found Thierry Henry entertaining or charming. It took me a while to see Wenger’s ludicrous and petty minded side but once I did (I think it was the “Farciland” episode that did it) the scales fell from my eyes. But I have to be honest, I’d love him now if he’d come to Tottenham all those many moons ago and I’d be less well disposed to Redknapp if he’d gone to Arsenal. Objectively speaking, everyone in football is deserving of our scorn. Except for Michael Dawson and Leo Messi. I just choose to focus on Arsenal.
The point is, it doesn’t matter. I’m contractually obliged to hate Arsenal, and I do. I want to beat them in a way that I don’t want to beat Newcastle or Chelsea or Werder Bremen. I want to beat them in the way that West Ham want to beat us. And importantly, and however they dress it up, they want to beat us in the same way. They can spin it as teaching us a lesson, or putting the irritating little neighbour in their place – that’s what I’d do if I was them. They can say Chelsea is a bigger game. In the context of the league, it is. But this is the only proper derby we play in, and it’s the only proper derby they play in, and it will always have its place. It has an electricity all of its own. It meant something when they were winning leagues and we were fighting relegation. It means something now the gap has been massively closed. It means something when it’s the third round of the league cup – a competition I definitely want to win. I can’t handle all this meaning. The stomach ache is returning. I hate playing Arsenal. I love playing Arsenal.
I was wrong when I implied Arsenal weren’t any worse than other teams. Tonight is literally good versus evil. Objectively speaking.