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Tottenham Hotspur At The Crossroads: Previewing Arsenal vs. Spurs

In the second of this week’s Premier League Previews, we look forward to the North London derby, and ask the crucial question: just how Spursy will it turn out to be?

by Will Magee
Nov 4 2016, 3:18pm

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There was one point last season, around mid-April, when it looked as if Tottenham might have reinvented themselves as a team. They had only lost once since the turn of the year and, although Leicester were still ahead of them in the league, their momentum seemed to be unstoppable. Harry Kane was banging in the goals up front, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen seemed increasingly influential in the midfield, while their centre-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld was rock hard, and the foundation for one of the best defences in the land. Gone was the Harry Redknapp era, with its late-season collapses, fragile mindset and tolerance of Michael Dawson. Gone was the inherent Spursiness of Spurs. Or so it seemed.

As we now know, Tottenham would go on to miss out on the title, drawing a crucial game at Stamford Bridge and handing the league to Leicester in the process. Not only would Spurs find top spot elusive, they would also taste defeat in their last two games – including a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of already relegated Newcastle – and so finish behind a lacklustre Arsenal side against outlandish and overwhelming odds. Fast forward five months, and Spurs are so far undefeated in the league, which sounds like the perfect way to go about righting last season's wrongs. Unfortunately, they are also without a win in six in all competitions, and go into the North London derby this weekend with several players missing and at a general low ebb in terms of morale.

So we must ask the crucial question: just how Spursy will this weekend turn out to be? Back at the start of the campaign, it seemed as if Arsenal were in something of a crisis while Tottenham were ready to mount a title challenge. Come midday on Sunday, Spurs will face a side that hasn't lost a game since the first day of the season, one which currently resides three points and three places ahead of them in the Premier League. Tottenham will be coming off a disappointing Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, as well as a trio of lacklustre domestic draws.

Those sound like pretty much the ideal conditions for a frankly Spurstastic derby defeat, which leaves Tottenham facing something of a crossroads. Buck the trend with a decent result this weekend, and they will prove to their rivals that they still have the same grit they displayed towards the end of last season; that they are still a reinvented Spurs side to be reckoned with. Fail to do so, and Spursiness will reign supreme once more. They may as well bring back Redknapp, Dawson and Pascal Chimbonda while they're at it, and prepare to finish a single point behind Arsenal on another hateful final day.

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