The joke's on Spurs

Before looking at the morning headlines let’s quickly recap on Robbie Keane’s mid-week comments. The Irishman attempted to stir things up ahead of the NLD by claiming Tottenham have more squad depth than the reds, so please look towards Spurs’ bench today for the blushes of Alan Hutton, Gareth Bale, Kyle Naughton and Michael Dawson.
Delight for all Arsenal fans then when Arsene Wenger put Robbie Keane firmly in his place in today’s Times.
“How do you measure the dimension of a club?” he said. “Success? Exactly. So, if you look at success, historically, they have a lot of work to do. We have been 12 consecutive years in the Champions League. So once they have done that they can say, of course, that they are similar.
“Can they bridge the gap? You can never say never. They have the potential, the supporters, they are a big club. But what comes next is the consistency of achievement. At the moment, nobody would deny that Arsenal is in front of them.”
Fittingly, The Telegraph points out that “during Wenger’s entire 13 years in English football, Tottenham have had 10 different managers, recorded just one league win over Arsenal in 23 matches and never finished higher.”
Just as nicely, The Sun leads with the headline: ‘We’re still streets ahead’, reporting Wenger as saying:
“Yet their manager Harry Redknapp has shown through his experience intelligence that he can do it. He’s done a good job as they were fighting relegation.”
Excellent use of sarcasm by Wenger, although the joking doesn’t stop there. The Independent talks about Wenger’s dismissal of Emmanuel Adebayor’s claims during the week that Cesc Fabregas will leave Arsenal if they don’t qualify for the Champions League this season.
“Frankly, I’m not really bothered about what he says,” Wenger said. “Why should I react to quotes that may not even be accurate?
“What is important for me is that we play well tomorrow. For the rest, we have to live with what people say but it is not really important.”
Enough of Adebayor. The charismatic Frenchman goes on to talk about “suffering” after the West Ham defeat and how he will “suffer” if the team loses today. He also drops a line on the goalkeeper situation, saying: “Manuel was sick for a long time. It’s taken him a while to get back to his best form. He will be fit to start against Tottenham.”
Make of that what you will. Ahead of the derby, About Diaby has been putting his seal on the game claiming he wants to be like Patrick Vieira.
ESPN Classics has been constantly repeating the 2003/04 derby this week when Arsenal clinched the league title at White Hart Lane after Vieira put the Gunners ahead with a storming run before screaming down one camera lens.
If Diaby’s performance today is anything like that then start celebrating Arsenal fans.
“Some people look at me on the pitch and think, because of my style of play, that I’m lazy,” says Diaby in The Mail, referring to Vieira as “The Man”.
“I think maybe I am more attack-minded, a more technical player. Vieira is much more aggressive. He makes more of a physical impact in a game, in midfield. He is amazing. I don’t think I have this quality yet. I think I can develop in that way but he is much stronger.
“But I accept that I do need to be more aggressive and more physical. I can tackle. I think I can, anyway. I think I have the ability to have more of a physical impact in the middle. I am not lazy. People think, because of the way I run, that I am not working as hard as I could be, but trust me I am.”
And it is just that what plagues Diaby’s game with inconsistency, as even in his interviews the man seems undecided.
Some people have mixed views on the French daddy-long-legs. Those who see the Diaby twisting away from two players and heading for goal will be egging him on today, hoping he can conjure up something Vieira-like. Those more sceptical will be groaning; he is likely to start.
Lastly, back to The Sun, where Terry Venables attempts to fire-up Spurs for today’s NLD are neither here nor there.
“Gooners everywhere have been incredibly patient with their manager in their recent dry seasons,” says El Tel.
“They have been prepared to accept the switch from their spiritual Highbury home to the Emirates.
“They have also been prepared to accept a shortage of big-money signings while they pay for their tremendous new stadium. And they have even been prepared to accept a drought of silverware for the past four seasons.
“But would they be prepared to accept their bitter rivals finishing above them in the Premier League’s top four? I suspect that could be taking it a step too far.”
A win today and it will be three points with a game in hand further away from our north London rivals. Hopefully Diaby and co. will be writing their own headlines come Sunday.

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