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The Doldrum Derby: Spurs and Arsenal meet on the back burner

Not since the mid-1990s has the North London derby been so incidental and irrelevant to business at the top of the table.

This is the ninth against the eighth, little more than a Europa League six-point. Just another local skirmish, who might be able to somewhat determine whether one side of this old rivalry can save enough points from the last four games to minimize the embarrassment of a bleak Premier League campaign.

At kick-off, Arsenal could be 45 points behind the champions, while Tottenham would be one point further in the back.

Tottenham take on Arsenal in a North London derby that is irrelevant to top-of-the-table matters

Tottenham take on Arsenal in a North London derby that is irrelevant to top-of-the-table matters

After kick-off, Arsenal could lag behind the champions 45 points after a bad Premier League

After kick-off, Arsenal could lag behind the champions 45 points after a bad Premier League

After kick-off, Arsenal could lag behind the champions 45 points after a bad Premier League

They’ve drifted into the top four so far, even if Manchester City doesn’t lift their UEFA ban, it’s unlikely that there will be Champions League football in this part of the capital for the first time since the Wenger Revolution.

For Arsenal, that would be a costly fourth consecutive year outside the European elite. For Spurs, a depressing return to familiar struggles in the days before Mauricio Pochettino and an ominous sense that the local power shift was nothing more than a temporary affair.

How can they hope for the slide to hold stars like Harry Kane? How can they attract talent to rebuild with neither Champions League football on the horizon nor a competitive transfer budget?

Amazon released a short teaser yesterday for the inside story documentary of an extraordinary Spurs season. Just 41 seconds long, Pochettino starts on the field in tears and cuts to players who look thoughtfully at meetings before Jose Mourinho enters the building.

Words flash on the screen: “The Season. . . Everything . . . Changed, ‘said chairman Daniel Levy:’ We have to do what we think is good for the club and only time will tell if it’s the right decision. ‘

Eight months after Pochettino’s departure, the natives of the Spurs are becoming increasingly restless. Perhaps the only positive aspect of Levy’s beautiful new stadium that is vacant is that the home crowd can almost turn on Mourinho.

In the first place, many were never sure. Not only was he certainly not Poch. But he was still an icon at Chelsea, where he won the title three times. Even worse, his reputation for uninspired football was the antithesis of a philosophy defined by Tottenham’s double-winning captain Danny Blanchflower: “The game is about glory, it’s about doing things in style, with a flourishing time.”

What would Blanchflower have made of them on Thursday in Bournemouth, where they couldn’t register a shot on target? “Goalless and soulless,” groaned an experienced spectator.

Eight months after Pochettino's departure, Spurs natives are restless under the rule of Jose Mourinho

Eight months after Pochettino's departure, Spurs natives are restless under the rule of Jose Mourinho

Eight months after Pochettino’s departure, Spurs natives are restless under the rule of Jose Mourinho

Mourinho has tightened up his team at the rear, but in the future, Spurs have lost their lead

Mourinho has tightened up his team at the rear, but in the future, Spurs have lost their lead

Mourinho has tightened up his team at the rear, but in the future, Spurs have lost their lead

Mourinho has tightened up his team at the back – except for a defeat at Sheffield United – but at a price that needs to move forward and he needs to strike a balance to avoid the same fate as George Graham, who could never convince believers at White Hart. Roadway.

“Nobody in this club is happy,” Mourinho knocked after a week in which Hugo Lloris clashed furiously with teammate Son Heung-min, and Eric Dier was banned for wading into the crowd to prosecute a fan who yelled at abuse. While in charge of Chelsea, the self-proclaimed Special One seemed to have a mental hold on Arsenal, but he enters his first North London derby as Spurs boss on the hind leg, warding off critics by highlighting the issues predate his arrival and were not resolved by the £ 100 million Pochettino spent on players last summer.

“This season has been very difficult from day one,” said Mourinho. “From the moment they lost the Champions League final, it was very difficult for many people in the club to believe that the next day could be sunny.

“Many big clubs have difficult times, moments of transition, moments of replacement of players, losing players, of older players. This is a process and my message to our fans who are not happy of course is that the thing that keeps me strong and optimistic and loyal to the project is to know that the club wants to improve.

At Arsenal, the mood has been much more chipper since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery

At Arsenal, the mood has been much more chipper since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery

At Arsenal, the mood has been much more chipper since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery

“That is the biggest motivation. Next season will be different. No doubt.’

At Arsenal, the mood is a bit chiller about the impact of the interim management change. Unlike Spurs, who risked fan rage and chose Mourinho’s winning pedigree to tackle a 12-year trophy drought, their neighbors risked a rookie, a former player with ambition and appreciation for club culture.

As Levy says, time will tell, but Mikel Arteta has made a strong impression since replacing Unai Emery. He made the right sounds and on the eve of the derby, he managed better than Mourinho, with whom he worked as a young player in the Barcelona B team. In addition, there are signs of mind about Arteta’s Arsenal.

They have reached the FA Cup semi-finals and a large number of players coming out of the academy are given opportunities, which always play well for the dedicated masses during these transition phases.

During Tuesday’s draw against Leicester, they found rhythm and pace until they lost their way after Eddie Nketiah was sent away.

Arsenal made the right sounds under Arteta, and academy stars get a chance

Arsenal made the right sounds under Arteta, and academy stars get a chance

Arsenal made the right sounds under Arteta, and academy stars get a chance

“I want them to play that way as much as possible,” said Arteta. “Aggressive play in the opponent’s half. If we give the ball away, to win it back and attack the opponent’s box. For that we need a good structure, to attack the right areas and generate overload. We have seen that.

“It was clearly different when we went to ten men. But I’m happy with the way they played again. ‘

It has been less than a month since Arsenal returned outrageously in Manchester City from the lock, where the defeat was caused by a bug-strewn David Luiz who was awarded a new contract. Now, 10 points later, they have risen one point above Spurs.

Perceptions are subject to fluctuation, but neither team can be proud of their competition and what remains indisputable is that they are a long way from the top.

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