Has the North London tide finally turned?

At the time of writing, Tottenham are currently 7 points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League (although Arsenal have a game in hand). Although Arsenal are technically still participating in the Champions League, their trip to Allianz Arena looks to be the end of their European season, after a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates. It appears that 2012/13 will be yet another frustrating trophy-less season under Arsene Wenger, after two excruciating cup exits for the Gunners (to Blackburn and Bradford). Meanwhile, at White Hart Lane, there is a positive aura emanating from Arsenal’s local rivals. Despite a set-back at Anfield at the weekend, Tottenham are sitting pretty in 3rd place in the league, following a 3-0 triumph over Inter Milan in the Europa League, and a sweet revenge over Arsenal, 2-1. Whilst Tottenham seem a revitalised team on the up under a youthful manager, some may perceive Arsenal to be the opposite. Is this perception really accurate?

Arrivals

TOTTENHAM:

In the past two seasons Tottenham have acquired (amongst others):

Moussa Dembele – £16.75million

Hugo Lloris – £11million

Jan Vertonghen £11million

Gylfi Sigurdsson £8.8 million

Clint Dempsey £6.5 million

Emmanuel Adebayor £5million

Lewis Holtby £1.5million

Scott Parker £5.5 million

 

Total: £66.05million

 

Significant Departures:

 

Peter Crouch £9million

Wilson Palacios £7million

Roman Pavlyuchenko £7million

Alan Hutton £4million

Robbie Keane £3.3million

Jamie O’Hara £3million

Luka Modric £26million

Rafael van der Vaart £11.4million

Niko Krancjar £6million

Vedran Corluka £6million

Steven Pienaar £5million

 

Total: £87.7million

 

Conclusion: Although Tottenham have sold more than they have spent recently, most of the signed players have been impressive, and very astute signings. The stand-out signings are Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Lewis Holtby (their fees combined are only a couple of million more than the funds raised by the sales of Modric and van der Vaart). Although Modric and van der Vaart could have left a void in the Tottenham starting XI, Tottenham moved quickly to plug any potential gaps.

 

ARSENAL:

 

(In the past two seasons) Ins (amongst others):

 

Santi Cazorla £16.7million

Lukas Podolski £10.5 million

Olivier Giroud £10.5million

Nacho Monreal £8million

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £12million

Gervinho £10.5million

Mikel Arteta £10.5million

Per Mertesacker £9.9million

Andre Santos £6million

Park Chu-Young £5.7 million

 

Total: £100.3million

 

Significant Departures:

 

Robin van Persie £27million

Alex Song £16.7million

Carlos Vela £3.3million

Cesc Fabregas £29.9million

Samir Nasri £24million

Gael Clichy £6.8million

Emmanuel Eboue £3million

 

Total: £110.7million

 

For every Santi Cazorla, there’s a Gervinho. For every Mikel Arteta, there’s an Andre Santos. A slightly hit-and-miss record in recent times for Arsenal, as some genuinely world-class players have been sold, only to be replaced by cheaper players who are not quite on the same level in many cases. Like Tottenham, they have sold more than they have spent, which is extremely frustrating given Arsenal’s substantial resources and financial health. There remains noticeable gaps in the Arsenal starting XI, which need to be addressed by signings this summer.

 

The Managers:

 

Arsene Wenger: It would be unfair to suggest the majority of Arsenal fans want “#WengerOut”, but more and more Gooners seem to be becoming disenchanted with their club, their board, their excessively priced season tickets, and in some cases, Arsene Wenger. It sometimes appears that Wenger is content with moulding young players into fantastic players, then selling them on – this is worrying for Arsenal fans. Although Wenger has undoubtedly done a lot of good for Arsenal as a club, I don’t think his position is beyond questioning. Far from it, in fact. However, I don’t believe he should be sacked. It is very possible that the lack of spending is the board’s fault and not the manager’s, and Arsenal (especially if they are not in the Champions League next season), have no idea who they might attract/appoint as their next manager. Not finishing in the top 4 would be a massive blow, however, and perhaps a change might help the team. 8 years without a trophy is a long time, after all.

 

Andre Villas-Boas: Roman Abramovich must be kicking himself. After the enigmatic Portuguese had been paid a mouth-watering compensation fee, ‘AVB’ found the perfect match in the North of London. Before the season, some wondered if Redknapp’s departure would have a negative effect, but Villas-Boas moved swiftly and effectively in the transfer market to quell such rumours. Although some Spurs fans had their doubts early on (perhaps justifiably so, after some baffling substitutions), the vast majority of supporters have now given AVB their full-backing, and it seems that Daniel Levy has finally found a young manager he can share a long-term relationship with.

So has the tide turned? In the short term, yes, but only marginally. It is fairly likely that Tottenham will finish above Arsenal this season, but Tottenham themselves have not won a trophy, and the season is far from over yet. This summer hold the key as to whether or not Tottenham will remain superior in the long term. If Villas-Boas can keep hold of his key players, and sign a quality striker, the future looks bright. Arsenal need to spend some money under Wenger (not excessive amounts) on improving a few areas of the first team, to cement their future in the top 4, and hopefully win them some trophies. This, however, remains to be seen. And who knows, maybe both North London clubs will win trophies next year!

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