The North London derby: Rivalry renewed
All across the world, there are certain football matches that stand out from the rest and always leave memories in the hearts of the fans supporting them.
From the left hand side of the Atlantic, the Super Clasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate is one of the most anticipated matches in South America. That game has brought the best our of legends like Martin Palermo, Ariel Ortega, Juan Riquelme, Pablo Aimar amongst others.
Just up north, the Old Firm derby between Glasgow Rangers and Celtics turns footballers into William Wallace-like figures because the tackles that fly in on the pitch can be likened to the swordfights of the Renaissance period.
England has its own fair share of derbies but my primary focus remains on today’s game between Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal. This game also serves as a landmark for Twitchy Ol’ Harry Redknapp because it was the game where he started his management of Tottenham.
The game had it all; a projectile missile from David Bentley, an account opener for Mikael Silvestre, more uncertainty for Manuel Almunia, a Self-Destruct moment from Gael Clichy and of course, some late drama.
It was expected that Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger would be asked a question or two by the media Vultures ahead of today’s game. Redknapp told the media Vultures that Tottenham can be the best team in London. He also defended Arsene Wenger by telling the media Vultures that he can never be sacked.
Redknapp probably knows the feeling of getting a job terminated because he has managed quite an amount of teams in his career with the most notable clubs being Southampton, Portsmouth and Tottenham. He has been touted as England’s potential boss when Fabio Hitler hangs his diary and suit after Euro 2012 and it won’t be a bad idea getting such a manager that has been there and done that in England.
Arsene Wenger on the other hand diverted his focus to the transfer speculations involving Arsenal and he openly dismissed the claims of Van Persie’s link to Manchester City. After witnessing Carlos Tevez unprofessional antics in the Allianz Arena, Roberto Mancini is probably searching for a new striker and I’m sure that van Persie is in his radar.
Wenger’s club has also been linked with QPR’s Adel Taarabt but the manager was quick to hail the mentality of his players and I’m pretty sure that it was aimed at spurring them on to put up stellar performances today.
One player that has openly voiced his keenness to play very well is Arsenal’s goalie, Wojciech Szczesny. He has declared that he’ll be happy to keep a clean sheet and he has told the media Vultures that no special attention will be paid to Emmanuel Adebayor.
Adebayor is a player that has an excellent goal scoring record in the North London derby but he’s on the other side so he has to be shackled for Arsenal to get something out of the game. However, his strike partner Jermaine Defoe targets a victory today and Arsenal’s defense has to do well to quell the threat Tottenham’s forwards pose.
Szczesny has also talked up the abilities of Per Mertesacker by saying that he was the player that Arsenal needed. Mertesacker has been pretty impressive in the games he has played for Arsenal and he has already talked about today’s tie so we’ll expect a performance from him today. Alex Song has also told the media Vultures that Arsenal is going to prove its critics wrong but the talking has to be done on the pitch for 90 minutes.
Arsenal and Tottenham are in good form coming into this game so I expect a balanced yet thrilling affair. Tottenham broke Arsenal’s Premier League stranglehold against them in that 2-1 win in the 2009/10 season and Rafael van der Vaart was the man of the moment when Arsenal gave up a 3-1 lead last season to end up at 3-3.
To team news, Wojciech Szczesny will definitely get the nod against Lukasz Fabianski and I’m hoping that he won’t clash with Gareth Bale for any penalty or stay rooted to the spot when Tom Huddlestone takes another shot from outside the box. Bacary Sagna will definitely start on the right but Wenger will face a selection headache on the left hand side in choosing between Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos but I feel that the Englishman will get the nod because of his defensive capabilities.
Wenger revealed that the game was too close for Laurent Koscielny and with Thomas Vermaelen, Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou still out the midfield will be deprived of Alex Song because he’ll be the man to help Mertesacker to prevent goals from raining.
Song’s absence in midfield will allow the introduction of Emmanuel Frimpong to take on the holding role while Mikel Arteta will be the box to box midfielder that will balance the midfield and attack. Aaron Ramsey will assume the mantle of Mr. Creativity for Arsenal.
Robin van Persie will lead the line but questions will still be raised about the fitness of Gervinho and Theo Walcott but Andrey Arshavin and the Chambered Ox will be worthy replacements. My expected line up will be:
Sagna – Mertesacker – Song – Gibbs
Arteta – Ramsey – Frimpong
Oxlade-Chamberlain – rVp – Arshavin
This is going to be one Hell of a match and as D’ Banj would say,
“If you miss this match, you’re on a LONG THING”
I’ve compiled the nominations for the awards for the month of September and there’ll be published after the match review post tomorrow.
I hope to see your votes 🙂