Tottenham is new king of north London
The last time Tottenham won the League title, many of you were not even born. It was 50 years ago last May, when a Bill Nicholson-inspired ‘push and run’ team lifted the famous Football League Division One trophy and the FA Cup. It was the first time the ‘double’ had been achieved in the 20th century.
That was the golden age of Spurs and the era when they officially owned North London.
There was no question where the balance of power resided - it was White Hart Lane, N17.
Ten years later in 1971, Arsenal famously repeated that ‘double’ feat, beating Liverpool in the FA Cup Final at Wembley and ironically Tottenham at the Lane to clinch the title. The balance of power moved to Highbury N5 where it has pretty much remained for the last 40 years.
As the final whistle sounded in N17 on Sunday it is now obvious to this observer that the subtle shift that has been occurring over the last few seasons is now complete.
Power is now back with the Lilywhites, it’s theirs to lose and judging from their performances this season, they won't hand it back lightly.
Arsenal supporters will not concede that fact until next May and rightfully point to the fact that they have bested their rivals in the league every year since 1995.
That is certainly a pertinent point and quite possibly the only thing Arsenal can cling to over the next seven months or at least until February 25th 2012.
That’s the date of the next derby, which in my view is becoming England’s, if not the world’s, El Classico in terms of entertainment value. The last nine matches have produced an astonishing 39 goals and in Tottenham’s case, goals of staggering quality.
Kyle Walker celebrates with Luka Modric and Emmanuel Adebayor. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
In fact if we measured up some of the strikes they’d cover the distance between the two teams' stadia. David Bentley, Danny Rose, Tom Huddlestone and now, Kyle Walker all have bludgeoned the ball home from miles away over the last few seasons.
It’s almost as though Spurs have nicknamed Arsenal ‘yum yum’ such is their ease in scoring from distance.
Whether Tottenham can reproduce this form on a consistent basis is still debatable though. On the two occasions this season that they were asked questions, they had their trousers well and truly pulled down by both Manchester clubs. United and City exposed a gulf in class that Sunday’s victory has only partially covered up.
For Arsenal, it was yet another disappointing result in a season that continues to unravel before my disbelieving eyes. However, the sages love to say the table never lies, so I guess 15th place is where the Gunners deserve to be.
With Arsene Wenger in an uncharacteristically defeatist mood, it now looks increasingly like the Gunners have only cup competitions to concentrate on. Yes, Gooners, the treble is still up for grabs but I think we all know the Uefa Champions League is a pipe dream, while the Carling and FA Cups are so dependent on favorable draws that another empty-handed season is not a possibility but highly probable.
But enough of football talk and shifts in power, there was one aspect of the north London derby that was deeply disturbing to this viewer and that was the chants from both sets of supporters.
While Tottenham fans should be commended for the atmospheric 'when the Spurs go marching in' that swirls around the ground in goose-pimpling waves they have got to be hammered for the highly objectionable 'sit down you paedophile’ directed at Wenger.
For Arsenal fans to respond with chants of ‘it should’ve been you, it should’ve been you’ to Emmanuel Adebayor in reference to the Togo team who had three people murdered on a bus at last year's African Nations Cup is disgraceful.
Derbies should be feisty, heated and passionate but some supporters take it to a level that almost defies description. Redknapp was rightly incensed, saying: "How do you chant something like that? You can't be right, mentally. There's kids up there.
"How do you bring kids up to sing songs about the Busby Babes [and the Munich air disaster]?
"What's that kid going to become? I dread to think. I don't know what you can do but you can do something to the parents of those kids. It's disgusting. It's got no place in life."
Well said, Harry!
In summary the shift in power is real and must be accepted. The abusive chants are also real but they must be rejected. Tottenham versus Arsenal is becoming the ‘must see’ derby in world football.