One Rivalry to Another: London versus Manchester
On Wednesday night, the North London derby wowed English football fans across the globe. Danny Rose’s wonder-goal opener, along with Gareth Bale’s clincher just after half-time, and Gomes’ world-class saves from shots by the returning Robin van Persie won the game for Tottenham to break a run of 11 years without a win in the league against their North London rivals, Arsenal.
- Danny Rose celebrates his opener against Arsenal
It wasn’t just on the pitch where this rivalry really heated up. White Hart Lane simply shook from the noise created by the Tottenham fans chanting their team to a memorable win. After the game, the crowd rang out with “When the Spurs come Marching In,” but it has to be said, though, that most of the Spurs fans’ were quite occupied booing either the returning Sol Campbell, which they are entitled to do, after he joined Arsenal from Tottenham in 2001, or Arsene Wenger, who they rather slanderously pointed at and chanted, “Sit down you pedophile.” The mob effect created at a rival game like this one can make even the mild-mannered businessman a wild, screaming hooligan for 90 plus extra time minutes. The amount of police work that had to be done before and after the game suggests this mob effect does take a considerable amount of time to wear off, though.
The policing of the game and of the areas around North London on the night was nothing less than professional, with even helicopters buzzing through the sky in case of any unwanted violent activity. Which, unfortunately, there was quite a lot of. According to the Islington Gazette, an Arsenal fan was stabbed to death outside the pub he was watching the game in. While there is no evidence that this is a football-related murder, the fact that the 20-year-old victim was killed just after the game ended outside the pub he was watching it in does leave one to draw certain conclusions.
But how does this year’s latest North London derby, where we saw a wicked goal from Premier League debutant Danny Rose, and fans who truly do seem to hate each other, stack up against the Manchester derby?
While the game was quite dull until the three minutes of stoppage time, it certainly did take on a new light when the full-time whistle began to creep into the back of players’ minds. Sir Alex’s decision to start old boys Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs seemed to pay off, because no one knows more than those three do when it comes to Manchester derby’s and the importance placed on them both by the fans and by their manager, who always makes it a priority to win them at all costs. Having those three cool heads in there when Manchester United needed to get the win to keep their title hopes alive was vital for them, and Paul Scholes’ last-gasp goal clinched the win for United a few seconds before full-time, and a few days after he signed a new one-year extension at the club.
- Paul Scholes celebrates his winner against City
While Manchester City hosted the game, it wasn’t noticeable except for all the blue shirts, because they certainly didn’t seem quite inclined to chant their team over the finish line. It seems strange that the fans didn’t seem as excited about the prospect of beating their far more successful rivals this time around, because now certainly City have the team to do it. In seasons past, when City languished in mid-table, these games put their fans over the edge. Now that they have the means to achieve as much as their neighbours, the fans have taken a less-than-derby-like approach to what was an important game for both teams. City’s push for fourth is now heavily dented after this loss, and only after Paul Scholes’ winner did it seem to sink in to the City fans how much that game really did matter to them. City still have to go to Arsenal, then they must host Aston Villa and Tottenham, and on the last day of the season they go to West Ham. Not an easy fixture list at all with four games remaining and fourth place on the line. A little more desire from City was certainly what they needed, something they should have taken from Tottenham’s performance against Arsenal.
Tottenham sit in fifth, one point behind City with a game in hand. Tottenham’s derby triumph and City’s failure to take advantage of a lacklustre Manchester United may cost them fourth place and a chance to qualify for the Champions League by the time the season is up.