Whatever happens tomorrow...
As a result of scraping past Sheffield United last week the Tottenham fans are able to use the match with Arsenal tomorrow as nothing more than a warm-up for their trip to Wembley and certain defeat against Chelsea. Two cup finals in less than a month for the Spuds. Having said that, most of them would rather beat Arsenal than win a trophy, such is the mind set down there. Still, it must be nice for them to be knocking on the door of silverware again after these barren years, even if it is only the League Cup (which I seem to remember them telling us didn't count until we contrived to lose to Birmingham a few years back). This might be their year - let's face it, they've got to be right one day.
The good(ish) news for Arsenal is that Alexis might be fit enough to take his place in the side tomorrow. Clearly we're a better side with our best player, regardless of the win at home to Villa last weekend. A couple of weeks rest might also have done Alexis a bit of good. The question mark is over who plays on the opposite side of the pitch. As I said the other day I don't want to see Ozil starting the game at Spurs, but I'm certain that it's he who will get the nod.
We've been playing some great stuff in recent weeks, easily our best form of this season, and probably for a couple of years really. Tomorrow should focus the mind of every one of the players. Francis Coquelin will be key again and it will be a marker of whether he is a flash in the pan, or if he is a serious long-term prospect in front of the defence. He simply has to get tight when Eriksen receives the ball, while everyone needs to be careful not to give away easy free-kicks around the penalty area. Hector Bellerin will have his sternest test since he was taken out of the firing line at Stoke and Per Mertesacker will be needing to communicate well with him. I expect Monreal to keep his place, but I'd rather see the pace of Gibbs in at left-back, especially if Ozil is in on the left - Kyle Walker is a threat going forward and we need to keep him turned back towards his own penalty area (and that's why I'd play Tomas Rosicky or Danny Welbeck on that side of the midfield). At centre-back we have to see Koscielny at his best and bossing Harry Kane. I have to admit that Kane is a threat. Earlier in the season I thought he was a nothing player who was getting UEFA Cup goals because the opposition is second or third rate, but he has shown in the Premier League he has some real quality, and he must be in the next England squad (he's not one of their own though having played for Arsenal as a kid!)
At the other end of the pitch I want to see the Olivier Giroud we got last Sunday. He was too strong, too powerful and had too good a touch for Villa. I want to see him using his height and muscle to dominate their defenders, bringing Cazorla in to the game high up the pitch. If Santi shows his recent form he will be too good for them. But all of this only comes to fruition if our players work as hard as they have in the recent wins. This Spurs team is a decent side, so we have to match their desire before we can beat them for football.
As it stands now I would be happy enough with a draw tomorrow. It's vital that we don't lose, while a win would be a nice bonus. Whatever happens we know that they will be forever in our shadow. Did you know that Portsmouth have won as many League Championship's at Tottenham? Wolves and Huddersfield, Newcastle and Sunderland have won more than Tottenham! But I suppose two Titles for a provincial club from Middlesex is not really to be sniffed at.
As one final aside, if you want a laugh (and with thanks to Twitter for this) go to Google Maps and type in "the s*** hole" - the highlighted venue will make you chuckle. Here's hoping for a positive result tomorrow, and to all those heading swamp side please stay safe.