Tom Victor: Wildcard Hugo Lloris could cost you the North London derby

With the North London derby on the horizon, Tom Victor feels Hugo Lloris brings some much needed unpredictably to the tie…


Throughout the history of the Premier League, we have been able to rely on one constant.

While the dominant team in the division has changed, we’ve had the luxury of knowing there’s a North London Derby to fall back on – with it a shambles on one side of the divide.

Arsenal have long been on the right side of things when it comes to league position, but the derby has been a leveller, bringing out the worst habits and the greatest displays of panic from both sides.

This season, though, we’re worried. Both Arsenal and Spurs look like mature, settled football teams. Gone is the despair of the Last Days Of Wenger, while Spursiness has become something that has restricted itself to European competition.

On an occasion like this, we need someone to step up to the plate, to bring the chaotic energy that saw Arsenal throw away a 4-2 lead with two minutes remaining or Tottenham ship five against a team 10 points below them in the table.

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You might think there are plenty of candidates, but you’d be wrong. Only one man is capable of it, and that man is Hugo Lloris.

Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and yet his services to comedy far outweigh anything he has contributed to the actual success of any team he has represented.

Of course, the idea of the French international captain regularly showing a Clouseau-esque ineptitude might feel a little bit too on-the-nose if it happened every week, so it’s important to reserve it for tiny, insignificant occasions like, oh, I don’t know, a World Cup final.

If you’re thinking it’s a little weird that a goalkeeper gifted the opposition a goal with the most basic of errors in the most-watched game on earth and we brushed it off as if it was nothing, that tells you all you need to know about Hugo Lloris.

This has become so normal for him that we can see others do the same and ostracise them, but watch him pull it off and respond by saying “Oh, that? It’s just Hugo – we best leave him to it.”

He’s just as capable of this nonsense in a Spurs shirt, of course, with Lloris seeing red in Tottenham’s Champions League meeting with PSV Eindhoven after darting from his goalline to wipe out Hirving Lozano.

Not only was it dumb, but it was entirely unnecessary, and yet there has always been a trade-off in the keeper’s ability to make opposition attackers look stupid and his ability to inflict the same on himself.

It wasn’t even the first time he threw a curveball into the mix in this season’s Champions League – he made a similar dart in the second minute against Barcelona, only for Jordi Alba to take one look at him, shrug, and play the ball back to leave Philippe Coutinho with an open goal.

It’s football’s equivalent of a small child peeing his pants for attention, with the goalkeeper so far removed from those occasions that you’re left scratching your head each time. You’ve learned it’s easier to just let him get on with things and move on to the next one – anything else is a waste of your own time as well as his,

If you’re thinking ‘this is nothing new’, you’re obviously right.

Indeed, it was five years and two managers ago that we saw one of the earliest examples of ‘Hugoing it up’ in North London.

When Liverpool came to visit in December 2013, Lloris’ positioning high up his area almost worked to his favour with a big double-save, only for Jordan Henderson to find the net from the second rebound.

Then, later in the same game, he came dashing out to narrow the angle on Luis Suárez despite two defenders surrounding the Uruguayan.

As you either remember or could have guessed, Suárez had the simple task of lifting the ball over the Tottenham number one.

Arsenal might be light up front, and they might be coming off the back of a trip to Ukraine for a Europa League game, but with Lloris between the sticks they will know there’s a chance.

Similarly, Spurs will know any potential defensive shortcomings can potentially be solved by the keeper if he has one of his world-beating days as opposed to one of his world-helping ones.

The one thing we do know, though, is that any threat of boring professionalism from the two clubs will always hang in the balance as long as Hugo Lloris is involved.

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