Whichever of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal manages to join Chelsea in the Champions League this season, it is clear that the North London rivals are set to finish within a hair’s breadth of each other once again in the Premier League.
It is not very long ago that the two were miles apart, with Arsenal regularly competing for the title and Spurs struggling to break the top ten. Whilst some credit must go to Spurs’ improvement and ambition under Daniel Levy, Arsenal have also met them halfway in falling behind the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
There are plenty of issues at play, not least the outrageously rich owners that have propelled those two sides into the top three, but Arsenal’s approach to the transfer market has frequently and deservedly been criticised.
This summer they will surely change their tactics in this area, and the fact they have taken steps to secure many of their young players on long term contracts demonstrates that they do not want to be forced into selling their best players as they have done in the past.
They will also likely spend big, on established players that can make an immediate impact, with Stevan Jovetic likely to be the first big name, £20+million, addition to their squad.
Tottenham Hotspur must look at Arsenal’s last few seasons as an example of what they must not do if they truly have ambitions of establishing themselves as a top four club.
There are mixed signs from Spurs in this regard, they have done well to ensure players like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are always in long term contracts, but they did sell the Croatian player regardless, and they have consistently baulked at making the big signings they are often linked with, especially with regard to a new striker.
With Andre Villas-Boas at the helm, and plenty of talented young players in the squad already, they have all the incentive they need to gamble on one or two major signings this summer. If they keep Gareth Bale at the club, and sign even just one top quality player, there is every chance they will start next season as favourites to claim a top four place.
However, if they let Bale or any other key player leave, and settle for second best in the transfer market, they will likely take a step backwards next year, and their neighbours and rivals have shown how a lack of action can be costly.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald