Behind all the anger, is a sense of relief that Arsenal have eliminated Spurs from the title race. But if you dig just a little deeper, you’ll find Gunners’ fans just wished their club resembled something like Tottenham Hotspur at this moment in time.
That’s not to say Spurs wouldn’t trade away their current run of form – because that’s all it is – for Arsenal’s history.
But in reality, Arsenal couldn’t face turning into Liverpool; harping on about age-old success to cover up their recent shortcomings. Let’s go back to Wembley on Saturday afternoon and discuss what went down.
Mauricio Pochettino and his charges were under pressure. They were under pressure because they were in a meaningful game where they could potentially achieve something of note. There was tension for them. But the issue is that tension is universal, and it clouds judgement. You’re not in a big game simply because of tension.
You’re in a big game when the result matters to your club.
On Saturday, a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty miss grabbed headlines. It veiled over some issues and suggested to Arsenal fans that they actually should have won the game. But that’s not a problem for them, no matter how much they’ll admit it. Getting a point off Spurs is more than enough for Arsenal, it’s just how it panned out that stings.
Their only remaining achievements this year will be either catching Manchester United, which, given their start, is criminal – or stopping Spurs winning the league. They’ve done one of those things, and their fan base will no doubt use that going forward, as some sort of token pride.
But their turnaround will be swift. They’re going to have to realise soon that, while they can dangle that bait looking for bites from their north London foes, they’ll soon have nobody to taunt, as Spurs are busy booking their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Spurs are so far ahead of Emery’s men that they can practically take it for granted, while Arsenal will be facing Rennes next Thursday in the Europa League.
Once again, it seems that Arsenal’s biggest chance of success is a miracle turnaround in a game that has nothing to do with them.
But this level of clutching at straws, which once would have been dubbed ‘Spursy’, is now classic Arsenal. Spurs were more likely to rest players for this game had they beaten Arsenal on Saturday, which is somewhat of a catch 22. If Spurs won a Champions League, Arsenal may never get over it, given their expansive reign of dominance in this head-to-head.
On the off-chance that Spurs somehow manage to outdo themselves, you can cash it on the disappointment at 9/1. But a more realistic option is that their first-team players, completely deflated by their exit from the title race, won’t be bothered by a single-goal defeat.
Self-preservation is always the way to go for sides with minimal experience at this level.
Expect Dortmund to win this game, but not lend their abilities to Arsenal fans’ biggest wish at 10/11 by qualifying for the next round.