Monday, 4 March 2013

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Official - Andre Villas-Boas's side are real contenders for Champions League

Sight-seeing visits to the Premier League’s top four are no good to Spurs. They crave permanent membership. Almost sweeter than a regular place among the Champions League qualifying quartet is the knowledge that Arsenal will be the club kicked to the kerb along the way.

So Tottenham Hotspur had two reasons to rejoice with this 2-1 win. One was the bare fact of victory over the artists down the road. The other was the growing sense that Spurs are increasingly well-placed to compete with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the league’s highest echelon.

Arsenal are not. Now five points adrift of the fourth Champions League qualifying spot – and seven adrift of Spurs – the Gunners display a soft core and a manager in denial.
The block of four that once expressed Arsenal’s physical and mental strength was not one you would throw yourself against willingly. Martin Keown, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit were not there for tea and cakes.

Now, two centre-backs with attention deficits operate behind two central midfielders press-ganged into defensive roles. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey will never provide the screening cover that a suspect Arsenal back four require. In the big games, against incisive opponents, this open-door policy is disastrous.

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