After the 90 minutes had been played, no one was surprised at the result. More than anything, that defines the new era in the North London derby. Tottenham’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal at White Hart Lane was not simply three points in the standings and a vanquishing of a rival. It was a microcosm of the no longer changing, but completely reversed, North London derby.
Arsenal are now, if they were not already, indisputably inferior to their neighbors. While Arsenal have acquired another batch of promising young footballers, they do not have the ability to field a team that can consistently win in the Premiership. Apart from Jack Wilshire and Robin van Persie, Arsenal does not have any top-class players. They have several youngsters who may become stars down the road, but that is a never-ending labyrinth at Arsenal. They always have so much promise, but when that promise blossoms it is snipped by another club. To make matters even worse, Bacary Sagna is now out for three months after suffering a broken leg against Spurs.
Conversely, Tottenham have shown an ability to fend off suitors from their most prized assets. The Luka Modric transfer saga being the most recent example. If Modric had been at Arsenal, it is hard to argue that Wenger and the Arsenal board could have convinced him to stay. Gareth Bale is another star that Tottenham managed to keep, despite rumours linking him to clubs such as Inter Milan.
By keeping their elite players and acquiring depth and youth, Tottenham have assembled a very strong squad. Their starting midfield on Sunday was comprised of Rafael van der Vaart, Modric, Scott Parker and Bale. The Gunners’ midfield lineup was Coquelin, Arteta, Ramsey and Walcott. There is a significant gulf in class between those sets of four, which typifies the gap between the two clubs.
Tottenham are a team on the rise. By having a quality manager, keeping important players and emanating an aura confidence and desire to win, they are an attractive club. Arsenal is no longer that club. In a season when both North London clubs began with top four ambitions, only one of them has a realistic chance of reaching that goal. Unfortunately, without the lure of Champions League football, Arsenal may fall deeper into the mire.