St.Totteringham’s Day is one of those arcane bits of football rivalry that makes the game so enjoyable. It falls every season on the day when it becomes mathematically impossible for Spurs to overtake rivals Arsenal in the Premier League. Despite the Gooner’s anaemic draw against Wigan on Sunday, and Tottenham tidily thumping West Ham by four goals, it is now certain that Arsenal will finish higher than their rivals when final positions are settled come May.
A “moveable feast” that usually comes in April or May, this year St Totteringham arrived earlier than ever before. Arsenal’s (until recently) scintillating Prem form, combined with Spurs’ slothful start under former boss Martin Jol, means that while spectators at the Emirates have been gripped by a league title race, the poor folk down the Lane have enjoyed little more than an early flirt with relegation followed by a mid-table canter, enlivened only by the fact that, in Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, Tottenham have finally stumbled upon a front pairing actually capable of serving up goals.
However, is it possible that in seasons to come St.Totteringham may be a no-show? After all, under Juande Ramos, Spurs have added competence and clinical play to a style that was often woolly, haphazard and riddled with rookie errors. They humbled their arch-rivals in the League Cup semi-final, then went on to beat Chelsea for their first silverware in years. Could this portend a genuine climb towards the upper echelon of the League next year? Provided they can hang on to Berbatov, it’s not inconceivable to imagine them knocking impertinently on the door of the Big Four. Given time and a few key signings, Spurs could even manage to overhaul Arsenal and plunge the Gooners back to the dark days of 94/95, when (whisper it) the sacking of George Graham scuppered the Highbury side and saw them finish a full five places behind their lillywhite rivals.
We’ll take a punt and say its unlikely to happen while Wenger’s still in command, but post-Arsene Arsenal may be a less impressive beast altogether.
Picture from Arsenal v. Tottenham from Wonker’s Flickrstream