Will Tottenham Finally Get The Arsenal Monkey Off Its Back ?

André Villas Boas

As the battle to be the best team in North London hots up (to be determined by who grabs the final Champions League place this season), the race between Arsenal and Spurs seems destined to go down to the wire.

Now most neutrals, of course, will be pulling for Tottenham (smaller ground, fewer trophies in recent years, and the fact that success for manager André Villas-Boas will be one in the eye for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich). And, let's face it, it's difficult to feel sympathy with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, as most of his current difficulties appear to be of his own making.

We all know the history of the last 17-odd years (Arsenal 3 x Premier League Titles, 4 x FA Cups and 4 x Community Shields; Tottenham 2 x League Cups), but at least one of Spurs' League Cup wins came in the last 8 years (2008).

Last season, of course, Spurs were cruelly disappointed when, finishing one point behind Arsenal, the club saw its Champions League slot given to Chelsea, who rode their luck with wins over Barcelona and Bayern Munich to lift the trophy.

But just a few weeks ago, it all seemed so good for Spurs fans - Arsenal's season was going to pot (remember Bradford and Blackburn ?), and Tottenham's young manager was being praised for the way he had Spurs (and Gareth Bale in particular) playing. In fact, the club looked odds-on for a top 4 finish, and also had a good chance to win the Europa League (which remains the case).

But Arsenal have made a comeback in the last couple of weeks - not a convincing one, mind (the team's shortcomings are still there for all to see), but away wins over Bayern Munich and Swansea will have given the team confidence. Spurs, on the otherhand, have lost 3 on the trot. On current form (last 8 Premier League matches), Arsenal are ominously in 2nd place with16 points, while Spurs are 6th with 14).

So, as we enter the last few weeks of the season, the race for 4th slot in the Prem is most certainly on (and you can, of course, forget Everton and Liverpool). But you get the feeling that it's now or never for Spurs - as if this team can't finish above a disappointing Arsenal side this season (whose squad is bound to be considerably strengthened for next term), it could well be quite some time before Champions League football returns to White Hart Lane.

Achieive that 4th slot this season, however, and it will be a whole new ball game, as Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy will have much more money to spend, and won't be afraid to use to bring in quality players who will be prepared to come to the club to play against Europe's best. Never has 4th place in the Premier League been so important in North London.

image: © Vladimir Maiorov

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch