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Entries in battle for the top four (7)



Another game live on the box. The potential for more televised heartache and heartbreak. A trilogy of defeats would turn a blip into a psychological mess. A good team doesn't turn to mush over night. But a good team can suffer if they begin to believe that the Gods are turning against them. The first defeat was a capitulation and deserved. The second we played well but naivety and incompetence buried us under a three goal mugging. Everton away is hardly the best place to go to seeking redemption but is probably the best game for redemption to be found. What better way to brush off the negatives and reboot the faith required to get us up off the floor and fighting again.

Moyes men are a unit that are fully aware of their strengths and weakness and play to contain and frustrate. They will be physical and tactically astute (our fullbacks have been made to suffer in the past). There is no disputing that any weakness we plan to mistakenly flaunt because we're too busy losing discipline or lacking in patience will be jumped on and duly punished.

That's not to say we can't give them something to worry about. Everton are hardly made of the sexy stuff. And if we compare quality, flair and trickery pound for pound we have it in abundance so we need to be ruthless when applying it. If they defend deep then we must hold onto the ball. Don't let them dictate the games pace, look to take advantage of it. Whether that's a defence splitting pass or disguised ball or a counter-attack. We've got so much creativity and vision, it's enough to make you blush. Blush when we put it to good use, blush when we fail to use it at all.

We've let ourselves down by losing some of that cohesiveness that played such a pivotal role in our long standing run of good form. We must defend set pieces better. Play our possession football. Just keep it simple Tottenham, embrace the back to basics mantra. It doesn't have to be over complicated. Strongest players in their strongest positions. Player instructions are key and it's an area where most (watching and micro-analysing) start screaming for Bale to remain wide and why hasn't he been instructed to do so and so on. Vital that we look the team and play like a unit. That starts with the gaffer. It leads with the captain. An executed by the players.

Personally, I'd have Adebayor upfront (he might not be as sharp as Defoe at the moment but he's a far superior team player) with a trio consisting of Bale, Modric and van der Vaart with Sandro and Parker holding behind them. Parker fetches and carries. Modric recycles. If van der Vaart journeys inwards then Sandro builds a wall behind him. Same with Bale. Ideally our left winger will stretch Everton by dragging players out to the flank meaning more opportunities to dink the ball through the middle, something Luka will relish. Player instructions simply need to outline player responsibilities, covering and protecting each other. I'm the king of the obvious. Harry will probably go with 442, we'll win 3-0 and I won't post tactical musings again.

I've always gone with some wild prediction in recent weeks with my preview that we'll re-invent push and run and demolish our opponents because we have to reclaim authority and grasp destiny back from the clutches of evil and other colourful metaphors concerning war and pride and desire. I'll be content with us playing rubbish and winning 1-0 with a deflected goal in our only attack in the game. I'd prefer the former to the latter but a win this Saturday, that's the most important thing and I'm happy to contradict my usual necessity to play the Tottenham Way. There's no doubt every time we run out onto the pitch we attempt to play the Tottenham Way. It just doesn't always happen. And if it doesn't happen then nick it, steal it, mug it off. Just like Utd did to us. It's what the big teams do, right? We've had our fair share of average performances this season, games where we've come away with all the points (Fulham away anyone?) so we have more than just the one dimension to our play.

We need to prove it.

We asked for a good reaction to the NLD loss and in some cruel twisted way got it (in part) but had nothing to show for it. Forget style for the moment, let's take the substance of three meaty points on the table. Then that blip doesn't turn into a crisis of confidence which can spread like the plague. It stalls the pressure. The pressure from others but more importantly the pressure from within. That pressure then turns back into belief and onwards we march.

Not taking enough points off the other big sides will only prove costly if we don't wake the **** up and take them off the remaining teams.

Mental strength.





Staggering how time and time again, a single result shapes (then re-shapes) opinion, which is then presented as definitive. Then forgotten about the following week, replaced with contradiction. Equally staggering is how distorted perception and expectation becomes off the back of ninety minutes of football. One game doesn't make a season, yet in some cases it can consume the ten games it proceeded along with logic and pragmatism.

In the space of a few days we’re deemed title contenders off the back of a win that placed us shared second on points (still 3rd on GD) and then out of the race after a draw at home to Wolves. Even though we remain a handful of points off the top. Regardless of up and coming difficult fixtures, our form (in comparison to any prior season) has been astonishing. Was it disappointing, to draw at home? Yes, of course. But then our performance lacked the edge to win us all three points - so hardly much we can complain about other than wondering/worrying why certain players didn't perform.

It happens.

In fact you might even argue this was the first disappointment of the season, what with the opening two defeats practically banished and the Stoke loss one marked down to inept interference. Is this a modern-day Tottenham crisis? Dropping two points at home? Still third. Still with a hefty cushion of points between us and 5th spot.

Does any of the pre and post match punditry and opinion actually matter, what with the nature of everyone in football (managers especially) using kidology when changing their weekly perception of being in/out of the race?

Had we somehow managed to break down Wolves and their resolute army of eleven men behind the ball by not being restricted to long shots, had we found a spark and scored a second we’d be talking about grit and determination even though the overall performance would have pound for pound been the same thing as the one we got with the 1-1. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen. It doesn't quite work out. Tempo wasn't quite there. Bale wasn't out on the left enough (scrap free-roam mode for the minute, get him back to basics). Regardless, there is still no need for a dissection, a post-mortem or an autopsy.

No need for verbal dramatics.

Put it down to tiredness (two games in the space of a couple of days) or luck (offside Adebayor goal, arguably not) or perhaps unnecessary tinkering (Livermore). Best to dress it up as a reminder to the evil that is complacency. A gentle nod to the necessity of removing benched players and signing ones that will improve our squad. A calm composed voice explaining to the players that hype is a false God you need not be worshipping.

Start panicking if these results stop happening in isolation and start to trend.

These are not excuses. It’s just football.

We can still aim to finish high. Nothing has changed since Wednesday evening. We needed to strengthen then, we still need to strengthen now. Both with mentality and with perhaps one or two new players. The manager also has to consider the art of rotation and not forget that back to basics element that got this journey started way back when he replaced Ramos. Players in their best positions. Just to recalibrate the side whilst we work through this tricky period (Parker not quite back with us, issues with width, the wrong type of consistency with set-pieces).

Whether the media/pundits/blogs/whomever want to label us with dark horse or contender tags, that’s up to them and its mostly to incite debate and discussion. But mostly because we've got the points on the table. Did everyone write off Utd after they lost to Rovers? No. But then Utd have been contenders and winners for an age. They know how this process works. We're working it all out as we go along.

Which is why retaining feet on ground whilst embracing our challenge is the best way forward. The players will be hurt for dropping the points. P*ssed off. Good. They need to hate the fact they didn’t win the game. Let them hate, let us support and everyone can then focus on the fight ahead. Where we finish up will be no accident, it will be where we deserve to be.

Pre-match, I thought we’d spank Wolves. Just had a feeling everything would come together. It didn’t. With all the possession and shots, it’s doubly annoying we didn’t turn it around. But we didn’t lose. And there is no lack of ambition if I choose not to be overly critical of ninety minutes of football. Although I understand that one game or two can equate to loss of momentum and can change form. That's not something on my train of thought. Left it behind on the platform after the City defeat at the Lane.

It’s so easy with hindsight to suggest tactical reshuffles and selection decisions. It’s also easy to assume we are throwing away a genuine chance to win the league by not being ruthless in these games. I know I’ve blogged about aiming high and looking to compete. That ethos, that remains the same. It’s the only way a team can continue to progress and strengthen that mentality further. But the reality is, we’re probably fall short. Why? Apart from City being who they are? That’s easy. Because we’ve not been in this situation for decades. Because we’ve not got the experience and the learning curve might yet teach us another valuable lesson or two. It's hardly an easy task is it? It's fantastic that we're even involved, that footballing folk are not patronising but honest when they talk about our style and entertainment and challenge.

In some ways, what I’ve written so far in this article can also be conceived as a knee-jerk to all the knee-jerking. I guess I’m just trying to work through it and find a balanced outlook in amongst all the contradictions and (believe it or not) complaints and negatives.

When all is said and done and argued to the point of agreement to simply disagree...Champions League qualification was the goal at the start of the season even though some believed it would be difficult to achieve (one or two continuing their opinion from the end of last season when Harry was meant to have lost his way). Look at what we've managed to do thus far.

Just be positive. I know there's an adrenalin rush, a fear...even a form of pressure because we want to progress to places we've not been before on an emotive level. It's still a positive.

We are third. Three defeats in the league all season. Ten points clear of 5th spot. We are still on course for accomplishing what we set out to do. As for the dream, it still remains mathematically possible even if its something we've gate crashed and remain outsiders for. We're not the ones under pressure to win the title. But rather than be disappointed or fearful about something that might perhaps prove to be out of our reach - if we retain its possibility for as long as we can, by doing so, we will guarantee a challenge and a top four finish. That will give us the opportunity to truly consolidate for next season and build on the belief the dream can happen.

The glory will be gained by not letting go of the desire to fulfil it.


Love the shirt.



Want it

Writing a match preview can be a tricky most of the time because you simply look to share an opinion on team selection and tactics and then dress it all up with statistics about recent form in the league and history against the opposition then wrap it up with a concluding expectancy of how the game will (hopefully) pan out. I prefer to delve into the analysis mostly in the match review post-result and stick to a battle cry in the lead up to it. Today is no different.

We are currently uncertain of the staring first eleven that will take to the pitch against Chelsea.

No Lennon, Defoe, King, Bale, Adebayor = bare bones, backs to wall, mission improbable. Any team would struggle if you remove that many key players.

Lennon is a non-starter for certain. Defoe, rumoured to be missing too. Then we have the usual kidology and ambiguity concerning King, Bale and Adebayor. We all know it takes several days for Ledley’s knee to return to normal (as normal gets) but can’t imagine us playing him against Sunderland and thus risking him for tonight’s game. Adebayor will also play. Mainly because I refuse to believe the footballing Gods would be so cruel as to unbalance what should be a good solid tight game by depleting us and handing over advantage before the whistle is blown. As for Bale. It’s just a hunch, but I think he’ll start too.

If I’m wrong on Gareth, then the second half against Sunderland is the reminder we need to look back on as to avoid playing so narrow and allow both Luka and Rafa to drift into central positions to be effective. We need to be astute tactically with covering space left open by such marauding and push from full backs to wings. Goes without say that the industry we have to display in the middle of the park, in the war zone, has to be relentless. Parker hasn’t been completely on top form recently but then his level of performance was bound to dip ever so slightly. Sandro might have a role to play.

I wouldn’t scoff at a more traditional 442, knowing full well that this will mean van der Vaart playing alongside Adebayor which means he’ll play behind him, which then means he’ll drop deep and wander meaning it will turn back to a 4411. Discipline is what will take precedence, or at least it’s what should take precedence. Discipline and focus. We need to get at them and retain concentration at the back (Sturridge for me is key to them having any success in advanced positions).

Fact is simply this. We can’t play our trademark game if we don’t have the pace down the flanks. So we have to adapt and do so with minimal sacrifice in terms of style and more importantly ambition. We have to look to win this game. Go for their jugular.

It’s vital we get it right through the middle and overlap to mix it up a little. Width is how we damage, how we counter. If Bale plays, we retain some of that style. If he doesn’t, we have to up the work ethic and aim for fluidity as a unit (players playing for each other).

Chelsea, unbelievably, are probably the ones tagged with the underdog label. Plucky and resourceful, they’ve pulled a few results out of the bag when one or two were expecting more implosions. They still slip up (as seen at Wigan). But they have more than enough quality to hurt anyone. This being the game that it is – a derby and one that comes with a possible festive divide within the top four, there is no way of ignoring that it’s going to be defined with more than just team selection and formations.

This game is worth several points in the mental strength stakes. The three points are what matter but equally so does the statement made when acquiring them.

All eyes on Terry (if he starts). He doesn't mind this ilk of game, he tends to thrive on it such is his self-importance and arrogance. All eyes on Luka too. A chance to dictate tempo and control the game, a gentle nod towards the opposition. You can look but you can't touch. I'll only consider the irony of a Spurs win post-game and what opinion his agent might have of it.

Our record against them lot at the Lane remains impressive in recent years. Our home support is more than capable of being the 12th man (as long as Howard Webb doesn’t take that mantle at any given moment in the game).

That buzz you’re feeling, tingling in your bones. It’s the type of buzz I want to be feeling week in week out from now until the end of the season. Points ratio suggests we’ll be in amongst it and if we keep up our strong home record then we’re going to be anchored to the very top tier. This game gives us another opportunity to show that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Upright blue ones included.

Guile, tenacity and decisive quality please Tottenham. This won’t be easy. Sing your hearts out. As ever, aim high.

Love the shirt.



The Prem, the Champions League and the FA and Milk Cups


Someone recently pointed out to me we should be aiming higher. Higher than 4th spot. 3rd or even 2nd. No mention of a cup.

I understand the sentiments.

Modern football at the top tier is no longer about domestic trophies of the cup variety. They are simply deemed nice to haves. A day out. It’s prestige lost, drowned out by all the unnecessary music, fireworks and pomp. I remember growing up, swelling with pride when citing  the amount of FA Cups, League Cups and European trophies we had won. Okay, not as many in total as Liverpool or United (at the time we did lead the way in FA Cups) but those finals, they meant something. A badge of honour. Days of glory.

We now live in a footballing society that is geared towards the Champions League and that without entry to this elite competition we cannot progress to the next level and we cannot attract the right calibre of players to do so. Winning a cup remains a bonus, one that is still usually picked up by the very top sides, other than the occasional anomaly.

So, what to do? Only one tangible option. Don’t look back.

We’ve only been in the CL the one time. We’ve only very recently become contenders for the ‘competition for 4th spot’ after the degradation of the monopoly that made it practically impossible for anyone other than Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea to finish in any of those fabled positions. The reason we (and the media) even refer to it as ‘the battle for 4th spot’ is because even though the monopoly is no more, the teams above us still possesses that extra bit of quality and experience which means on paper it’s still not looking like the seasoned regulars are about to be knocked off their perch.

But much like it was never viable to knock one of them out of the CL places completely (and now it is) the same thing can quite easily happen for 3rd spot. And so on. As witnessed this season and last. The Prem continues to remain in a state of subtle flux.

If you consistently finish top four and partake in CL football then you’ll grow into a side strong enough to mount a title challenge every season. In other words, you push for top spot (even if it’s out of reach by five to ten points) and regardless of the outcome you’ll find yourself to be good enough to never fall further than fourth. Which equates to the ilk of stability that will turn you all powerful and evil (you'll shudder, part of your soul will die, but you’ll have been corrupted by then and won't notice).

It’s going to be difficult for all involved if we along with one or two others sustain our progression in the right direction. Six teams into four positions doesn’t work. I don’t believe we’re on the verge of a new monopoly either. Just some fancy musical chairs as we all dance to the tune of ambition. It might be something we have to settle for, a time-share with perhaps only the same two teams guaranteed CL football and the rest fighting for the remaining two slots. There’s no way of knowing how it will all play out across the next five years.

All we can do is aim to improve.

I know that’s wishy washy, but unless you have a spare flux capacitor it’s hardly feasible to point out the team(s) that will experience a devastating end of cycle life run, and drop several places. The Sky Sports era of the 90s and early turn of this century has cemented certain clubs at the top who can survive just fine without being at the peak of their powers.

So yes, all we can do is improve and aim to better ourselves first before looking to better the team just above us.

Aiming for 4th spot is that initial step required to understand what represents the minimum requirement. It's not a failure to finish in 5th spot. It just doesn't amount to the same thing as finishing above 5th. As we all know after the heroics of the 2010 season.

Discussing this so matter of fact is still sometimes surreal considering how we (and others) laughed off any claim we’d compete for CL football five years ago. It’s taken a long time and the reality is that we no longer day dream, we endeavour to push on and the disappointment when we miss out hurts. But once more, don’t look back.

The ugly truth is that a transitional season is always a season away. Managerial appointments and players personal targets are short term which means, with the best endeavours, we can be disrupted in a blink of an eye. To sustain and build further on the foundations you simply have to be involved in europe’s elite competition as it feeds you the power and the money to bully the rest domestically.

It’s sad, compared to the competitiveness of the 80s and the lust for domestic cups we all had back then. But it’s just how the mechanics of the game are oiled these days, fuelled by money.

At the most fundamental level, I want Tottenham to always embrace their traditions. Swagger and swashbuckle. But now that we have a spine and a taste for something bigger and bolder, we can hardly look back and return to the darkness having caught some colour out in the sun. I’m not asking for a decade of dominance. Just another beautifully scripted slice of history that can sit proudly alongside all the defining moments that have blessed us across so many decades. It’s what any fan desires of their team. It’s what the players representing the fans and the club should desire too.

We all know what’s at stake if we don’t finish in the top four next season. This summer alone is going to be dramatic and tiresome with rumours of potential bids for our key players and frustration as we await to see who we might sign. Stripping away all the intricate details of how best we line-up and tactical conundrums, we’re left simply with this: Audere est facere.

And in pragmatic terms?

We have to aim towards being competitive in every match we perform in. Momentum breeding a winning mentality and a hatred for losing. We are lacking a cutting edge. We can’t stand around wasting time wondering if the others around us will fix their own issues or drop further in form or improve. It’s always going to be in our hands. There are no complaints if you are the best you can possibly be yet fail to achieve your dream. Echo’s of glory, right?

At this given moment in time, there is very little in it. A few more home wins and...well, what hasn’t happened hasn’t for a reason. Those intricate details that need looking at are key to avoid a repeat. The learning curve won’t be so forgiving next time round. Others might be better placed thanks to their stable foundations and experience, but there are cracks in the wall. But once more, it matters not if we don't build something as durable over time that we can one day look back at with pride whilst the rest crumble.

As for the CL itself, it’s made for us. Our nature to attack and the knock-out element of the latter rounds. Shame we lacked a similar ethic domestically, leaving both cup competitions early were low ebbs in a season mostly made up of giddy highs. Distracted was the excuse, but it’s hardly a valid one. City have won the FA Cup and finished 3rd along with playing a fair few games in the Europa League. Perhaps débutantes (in the CL) are simply not strong enough in terms of experience to handle the pressures unlike the seasoned pros. City might falter in the league next season. We don’t know and who cares about something we can’t control?

Fact is we didn't appear to have the time or inclination to bother with the FA Cup and Carling Cup.

I’m not dismissing silverware with this modern footballing culture marginalising it. With all my rhetoric about the importance of the league, it’s still something tangible (Carling Cup might not mean much in relative terms, but try to deny it didn’t when we beat Arsenal in the semi then Chelsea in the final). If it’s good enough for the ex-monopoly to win cups and play CL every season then it has to be good enough for us. That shouldn’t be the reason behind wanting to. We need to recapture some of that old fashion spirit and look to add to our honours tally because that's what history remembers.

Football is still about the moments. Having such a moment is better than having none at all. I can't be alone in wanting us to reclaim our mantle as cup kings. Younger fans hardly remember the tag.

Perhaps the art of balancing our progress and maturity and focusing on the league equates to an altogether different type of transitional season(s) as we continue to grow. Perhaps for now, sacrifices need to be made.

Either way, don’t look back, look forward. But you'll be forgiven if you do happen to reach out to the past to inspire you. Ricky Villa dancing through on goal will live longer in memory than finishing fourth. You'll be happy to replace that memory with one of Modric dinking through midfield as we write a new chapter.

We have to be more astute on and off the pitch with our focus and squad rotation. The Europa League is not ideal in set-up and the winner of the competition  should really be awarded CL qualification rather than the whole thing appeasing the teams that get knocked out of the CL early. But we should still look to progress in it as far as possible. Same with the domestic cups.

The league, the Prem, much like it is for Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and now City...will always be the priority. Times have changed for us. So, if we’re truly hungry, its bread and butter on the menu with a cup of whatever you fancy to clench our thirst.


In our defence

Midfield majesty

Forward failure




Next season, anyone?

Not sure at the moment what is more depressing. Manchester City's style of football, the fact the 1-0 loss was one of our better performances yet summed up our season thanks to the lack of cutting edge or the irony that Crouch completed his trilogy - scored the goal to get us into the CL at Eastlands 1-0, red card in Madrid pivotal to us getting knocked-out, OG at Eastlands 1-0. Quadruple in fact if you include his goals against Young Boys.

Better team on the night, second best across the season in terms of accumulating those all important points. Reason for failure? Lack of those all important goals. Twenty less than last season.

At this away day fixture (at Eastlands) last year we had 70 points from thirty seven games. We've got 56 from thirty six currently. It's a massive dip in form, by all concerned (City currently sit on 65). The simple fact of the matter is that even though our opponents are as sexy as Dot Cotton in hot pants and a wet t-shit, they have proved to be more efficient than us when its comes to winning games. On the night it tactically paid off for Mancini. Defend and sit back, Spurs will huff and puff but they wont be blowing no house down. They scored because we let them. They scored because we scored for them.

Our flaws are fundamental ones discussed to death on this blog, on other blogs, on message boards and in the stands. Flaws we'll debate once the season is done and dusted and we look to devise the perfect Tottenham blueprint amongst ourselves in an attempt to calm our emotions and move swiftly through the stages of grief. So I won't be slicing up the deceased body and completing an autopsy on account of the fact that I already know the case of death.

Erotic asphyxiation. Fatal attempt at turning oneself on. Toe tag attached.

Positives from last tonight? Gallas, Rose, Sandro, Modric. We need a forward(s) to push us forward once more. We need to bring back the Kyles from loan and sign a couple more players (to replace the ones that will be sold) for that extra padded squad depth. City might look to spend another bundle to consolidate but their brand of uninspiring offensive movement and their calculated deep defensive play leaves me with an epiphany that the time-share will fall back into our laps next season. For all the cash spent, they're hardly better than us. They are, but they're not. You know exactly what I mean, it's not a conundrum. They didn't buy fourth spot (technically they did, compare the wage bills). We took it back to the shop, gift wrapped it then hand delivered the sonofab*tch.

One win in our last ten league games. Nine home draws overall. Not good.

They retained some measure of consistency whereas we failed to match the tenacity of the back end of last season when we truly took the scruff and went for the jugular. City, for all the negatives we wish to throw at them, got the job done. We didn't.

So congratulations to the blue side of Manchester and the fans who bothered to turn up but only the ones that have supported them for a period of time that would allow me to refer to them as long suffering. Enjoy the Champions League experience. Perhaps you'll sell out a game or two. Perhaps you might even endeavour to attack your opponents. Make sure you're facing the right way otherwise you might miss it.

As for us?

For all our faults, for all our mistakes at least we can pin point the error of our ways. It's a missed opportunity to build on last season by avoiding further transition (and applying even more pressure on City and Liverpool), but no point in dwelling on it beyond accepting responsibility for those fatal flaws. If chairman and manager can do that and not dither in the transfer window or get distracted by this persistent obsession with that crock of crap in Stratford or relegated West Ham United players then we might just capture that missing spark just in time for August. Except that this time next year we'll be mill...we'll be top four. Top three.

Don't be sad, don't be suicidal. We've waited twenty years, we can all wait another season for a second stab at the CL.





One last dance

It's almost surreal if you care to reminisce about the back end of last season and the outrageous heart in mouth stamp of determination and desire we brought down onto the throats of our opponents, choking them dead, when chasing a dream which most had already decided was out of our reach.

It's Eastlands again but this time it's not neck and neck it's not do or die. City have breathing space. We simply have pride. That's if we've remembered to pack it up with the kits and boots. The home support will no doubt lap up the avenging nature this game is offering them on a plate. Brace yourself for a history enriched Poznan.

If they win, they have their pot of gold whilst we look up to the heavens with the rain pouring down on us with no sunshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine to be seen. Another day perhaps in the future it will burst through the clouds once more and we'll rediscover our rainbow.

I would still welcome an upset in our favour (obviously), even if we are simply prolonging the inevitable.

So, with casual badge thumping, come on you Spurs. Do that thing that you do sometimes. The daring and the doing in association with each other that can result with ample swashbuckle tinged with tenacity. Only if you can muster it up of course. Would be nice. One last dance before that sun sits behind the cloud ridden sky and we're left with the light from the night sky moon to guide us home.

Preferable a white moon. Not blue.




The North London Derby - presented in Technicolor

Ninety minutes. One interval. A couple of award winners in amongst the supporting cast.

Key strengths and weaknesses of the story arc?

Easy on the eye attacking bum off seats football. Lack of clinicality up front, sometimes because of the lack of chances created however mostly because there's too much of the tippy tappy and not enough of the smacking into the net ruthlessness. Dodgy keeper too. Defence can sometimes find itself all at sea, prone to lapses of concentration, what with key players usually missing from the back four. Midfield is tasty. Although if you listen to some, elements of it are over-rated. Choke? Yes. On occasions can throw it all the way.

One thing is for certain, the gaffer is much maligned. Splitting fans either side of the fence, even with moderate on the field success if not of the sustained silverware variant. The type that matters to most.

So in conclusion, deficiencies in amongst the quality. It's obvious what's wrong but patience is a commodity with a supply and demand problem with many despondent that fundamental errors occur without correction, always drowned out by familiar sound-bites. Nutty.

I'm obviously talking about Arsenal here. Actually no it's Tottenham, I've just described Spurs.

I think.

Is it?

We don't choke any more, what with them appearing to have taken that indignity off our hands. Then again, we have choked a couple of times this season with some notably under-performing, home and away, dropping valuable points. We're hardly tippy tappy, more swagger and swashbuckle. When we're not hoofing it up for the knock-down.

Arguably where it matters most, both sides are masters of making it an art form in how to almost score a goal at pivotal moments.

We only have the one dodgy keeper not a collection of them like they do. That's probably open for debate what with our second keeper being as erratic as our first choice and having never seen our third I dare not comment.

The good, the bad and the ugly amply shared between the two divided parts of north London.

The only discussion point beyond argument is colour. We play in white, they play in red.

United in our hatred for each other. Binding us like brothers (I guess from different mothers) fighting endlessly over a piece of land that both seek to claim as their own. The story is rich in history. Always entertaining, always captivating. Never boring.

And if we - Tottenham and Arsenal - decide to turn up this evening and bring us some ding-dong blood and thunder tenacity and desire we might just be in for a treat.

Both teams on the brink. Arsenal dreaming of mathematical possibilities having remained anchored all season long when countless times others cited a sunken ship. Spurs once more reaching out to claim back something made theirs last time out by sheer determination and unity that they once more hope to discover, even with a fixture list uncanny in it's form. A throw-back to the aforementioned last time.

Down to the wire, it's all in the game.

So what of it then? Whether you are white or red. What does your heart sing? What does your head quickly whisper?

I will be bitterly disappointed if we don't take the game to our visiting neighbours. Really want us to embrace the 'best team wins' mantra. In fact I want to see both sides go for each others jugular, with Jurassic drive and juggernaut effort.

We're at home. And we have to win. So says me, so says any of you lot in red too.

Last time out at the Emirates, we did some of that grand olde choking, freezing up in the first forty-five to find ourselves focused and spirited in the second half and thus pass the baton of bereavement over to our arch rivals who held it firmly to their bosom then proceeded to do some choking of their own.

Last time out at the Lane, it was win or die for their title hopes and plausibly win or die for our Champions League dream. For all their possession play they lacked any type of forceful damaging punch. In fact, we happily took their body blows before dishing out a couple of haymakers to knock'em flat out. A wonderful exercise in containment and counter aided by a sensational schoolboys own stuff strike and some heart-stopping keeping with a dab of luck-riding making a cameo for good measure.

Rather than be reactive to the occasion, I'm asking for Tottenham to be proactive this time round.

Pick up the pen and write the script from the start, rather than taking the responsibility of completing it after the initial author has become disillusioned with writers block and can't think of a definitive ending. Although you and I (being the ones who frequent N17 every other week) wouldn't complain much if that happened again. Considering we are rather good at satisfying all but a select group with a traditional satisfactory 'where on earth did that just come from?' twist, leaving us dizzy and giddy.

Box office smash please. Make me throw my popcorn up in the air and cough up my Coca-Cola. I want to see men in Lilywhite man-hugging and gesturing ecstatically to the camera as the credits roll, with the men in red despondent and dejected.

Two NLD league wins in one season? I'll take the drama not the fantasy.

Thoughts will then turn to the second and third parts of the trilogy. One filmed on location at Stamford Bridge. The other on location in Eastlands. May we be the ones taking the plaudits, the critical acclaim and another ceremonious bow and ice bucket at the finale.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Let's wait and see how encouraging the write-ups are for the first part.

The North London Derby. Might contain scenes of an adult nature.

I wouldn't even complain if it went straight to DVD.