This might be the most momentous NLD in years, what with both Arsenal and Tottenham flying high, at least after five matches. For ourselves, we have to feel like we have something to prove as well as something to build on after spending so much of last season top of the table. For Tottenham, they have to feel like they have something to prove after squandering the best of Kane’s years. Bereft of European football, they might feel like they can come out of the Emirates with a smash-and-grab. Here’s why they won’t.
They’re not battle-tested
Yes, they’ve bravely defeated Man U, Burnley, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United (at least three of those are pencilled in as relegation fodder), and they’ve drawn with Brentford and Fulham. In other words, they’ve not come up against any side that’s likely to finish above them. All they’ve done is hold serve. The only result that stands out, the win over Man U, diminishes by the matchday. By contrast, we’ve beaten Man City in the Community Shield and trounced PSV in the Champions League—a competition Tottenham didn’t even come close to qualifying for.
That “new manager bounce”
Let’s be honest. After Mourinho and Conte’s brief, tumultuous, and passive-aggressive reigns, hiring any manager would embiggen the spirits of any squad. The fact that Postecoglou isn’t publicly berating and scapegoating his players has to feel like a breath of fresh air. Even Eric DIer is probably feeling like he’s capable of tying his own shoes at this point. Costeglou does seem like a good manager, and he may be capable of undoing at least some degree of Tottenham’s inherent Spursiness, but that “new manager bounce” may just come down to Earth on Sunday when he comes up against a hungry, determined squad capable of carving an opponent six ways from Sunday.
The Australian has been thumping his chest, going on about how he’s not going to change his tactics or the way he plays, declaring that he’s going to go full-speed ahead in this NLD. I have to admit that I admire his bravery. I might even go so far as to suggest that such an attitude suggests that he’s more than than that club deserves. However, PSV offered us a glimpse at what it might mean for an opponent to try to get up the pitch against us. Even if we concede that Tottenham have more quality in attack than PSV do, Costeglou should look at how we sliced and diced the Dutch side to the tune of a 3-0 lead before the end of the first half.
Were this particular NLD to take place at the toilet bowl that is Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, that might give reason to pause. However, the fact that this NLD is taking place at the Emirates gives us a significant boost. Yes, it’s true that the Maddison-Son-Kulusevski-Richarlison attack feels like it’s flowing, but it’s done so largely at the friendly confines of that latrine of a stadium. Expect our fans to chant and shout and stomp. Think back to last season when we’d concede. Remember how the crowd rose to the occasion and roared to the heavens? Yeah, something tells me it’ll be something similar on Sunday. Should the unthinkable happen, should we concede an early goal, it’ll feel like awakening a sleeping giant and filling him with a terrible resolve.
Coming this early in the season, it feels a bit premature to dub this the most-momentous NLD in years. However, it’s been quite some time since both of us have nurtured aspirations of a top-four finish at a minimum. Tottenham have their tails up. Their fans seem convinced that they’ll win and send us into a tailpsin.
In addition to the understandable strategic reasons for why we should win this derby, it seems like we can a peculiar and spiteful one as well, not that there’s any surprise in that. Humiliations galore. Few things would be more satisfying than to put Spurs back in their place just when they’re starting to feel like they’re building momentum. Setting aside those strategic reasons, let’s spank these Spurs and remind them of their proper place.