It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. On one hand, we finally defeated Man City. On the other, Spurs top the table courtesy of having scored more goals. What’s a Gooner to do? Between celebratidng the slaying of the City dragon and lamenting the rise of the cross-town rivals, it starts to feel like we’re caught between that proverbial Scylla and Charybdis. Why oh why couldn’t the Hatters have held on for an infamous result? Ah, well. Let’s get down to this week’s Rivals’ Roundup, shall we?
Tottenham (6W 2D 0L: 20 pts.)
At some point, we may have to confront the vague possibility that Postecoglou’s side are for real. It’s still early days, but Spurs are showing that there’s life in them after selling Harry Kane. They were fortunate to escape Kenilworth Road after Yves Bissouma’s histrionic dive reduced them to ten men, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. At some point, Spurs have to ask themselves whether they’ll be using up all of their good luck in the first half of the season, though. Opponents have now seen three red cards in Spurs’ last four matches, and Spurs have found late winners a few times as well. That’s a jammy recipe for success, and, objectively speaking, it has to feel like there will be a coure correction sooner rather than later.
Arsenal (6W 2D 0L: 20 pts.)
After defeating Man U (an achievement that looks less-impressive by the week) and drawing at home to Tottenham (which looks more or less impressive by the week), Arsenal hosted the imperious quadruple winners. For most of the match, it looked as if we’d be fortunate to escape with a draw…and then, Martinelli struck. By which I mean he struck the ball off of Nathan Ake’s face and into the back of the net. In my post-match write-up, I talked up how Arteta out-thought Guardiola given the uncertainties that injures and suspensions played. This squad and its manager are still growing and maturing and expanding. A result like this one might not break Man City’s back, but it does add a few more straws. The confidence that this result engenders could carry us quite a long way.
Man City (6W 0D 2L: 18 pts.)
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve. Shut up, Isoroku. Why are you always such a wet blanket? Jeez. More seriously, though, for as symbolic and as significant as it was for Arsenal to finally defeat Man City in the Prem, we have to know that they’ll hardly roll over. If anything, they’ll come back hungrier and angrier. Part of me had been wondering whether going undefeated would drive this quadruple-winning side to the pinnacles, but they’ve now lost two on the bounce. One has to suspect that they’ll circle the proverbial wagons. Rodri’s served his suspension out, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them rattle off a 10- or 15-match unbeaten streak. They’re a sleeping giant, or at least a concussed one. They’ll be back…
Liverpool (5W 2D 1L: 17 pts.)
Any concerns that Liverpool would strike down upon with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy their season after last week’s fixture in which they best on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil (or at least imcompetent) men. Going into the AmEx stadium against an increasingly leaky Brighton side, one might have expected a furious, whirling dervish of Reds swarming over the Seagulls. One would have been mildy disappointed. While it’s true that Mo Salah’s brace might have won it for the visitors, Brighton showed that they aren’t downtrodden by their topsy-turvy start to the season—and Liverpool are still trying to find their way back to relevance.
As for the rest…
Only a few points separate Aston Villa, Brighton, West Ham, and Newcastle from the battle for a top-four spot, but it’s hard to feel like any of them will be capable of escaping the crabs-in-the-bucket situation they’re in. Aston Villa just went into the Molyneux and narrowly came away with a draw. Brighton, despite their draw at home to Liverpool, look shakey at best. West Ham and Newcastle shared a point, and each of them will have to contend with the rigours of continental commitments.
Yes, we’ll have to wallow in the muck and the filth. Man U celebrated a victory over Brentford with of the dignity and comportment you might expect from a club of their size evading by the skin of their collective teeth a loss to a club they hadn’t lost at home to since 1937. Heck, good on them. They’ve climbed into the top half of the table!
Now, we’re into the dregs…or are we? Chelsea sit 11th but have now won three in a row and might just be starting to find some confidence and momentum as a result. We go to Stamford Bridge after this international break for what looks like it could be a sterner test than it was just a few weeks ago. TIme will tell whether the confidence and momentum we’ve created will overwhelm Pochettino’s callow squad. There will be time for that fretting soon enough.
For now, let’s all bask and bathe in the glory that comes from bettering the Bald Behemoth. Who knows? Maybe that Man CIty monolith is starting to show signs of a deeper wobble after glutting itself over the last few seasons. Denied a chance at a golden Prem League trophy yet again, will lassitude and ambivalence set in? Wouldn’t it be something to see Man City succumb to a kind of existential ennui and just kind of…settle for a Europa League spot?