For decades, Arsenal have arguably controlled the streets of North London. For 22 consecutive years dating back to the 1995/96 season, Arsenal finished above their arch-rivals Tottenham in the league table.
It was fair to say that Spurs had cemented their place in Arsenal’s shadow.
During this stint, Spurs only managed to win two League Cups in 1999 and 2008. Meanwhile, Arsenal won 3 League titles, 6 FA Cups, 2 FA Charity Shields, and 4 FA Community Shields.
Pretty grim statistics from a Spurs point of view.
But whilst Spurs are still yet to acquire a major piece of silverware since their 2008 League Cup triumph over Chelsea, there is certainly now an argument to whether Spurs have overtaken Arsenal as the dominant force in North London.
How is this the case? Some will argue that because Spurs haven’t won a major trophy in over 11 years, there is no chance that they have overtaken Arsenal.
But in the grand scheme of things, Spurs have many more factors in their favour that position them as a better club than Arsenal in the current climate of football.
Jack Wilshere, the ex-Arsenal player who now spends most of his time on the bench at West Ham recently claimed that North London is still red. Sorry Jack, but listed below are a number of factors that support the claim that Spurs have overtaken Arsenal – the streets are now lilywhite.
A Better Manager
Arsene Wenger had a fruitful reign as manager of Arsenal. He of course led the team to their invincible season in 2003/04, and guided the club on to win 15 major trophies during his tenure.
But the days of Arsene Wenger are gone following poor results in his final seasons at the club.
Tottenham now find themselves with a highly rated manager who has ultimately transformed the club from languishing mid-table and struggling to reach top four consistently, to now posing a threat at the top of the table each season.
Whilst Mauricio Pochettino is yet to win a trophy at Spurs, he has come mightily close on two occasions – one of which in the Champions League final earlier this year. Despite losing the 2019 final, this was arguably Pochettino and Tottenham’s biggest achievement in years, and earned them high appraisal across the football world.
Unai Emery has only been in charge of Arsenal for one season, so at this stage it isn’t exactly fair to judge him. He may improve the squad, and may guide them to win big things, but that is yet to be known.
Pochettino’s reputation for transforming young players into world class superstars has led to players wanting to join the club to work under Pochettino. Recently, El Confidencial claimed that Dani Ceballos would prefer a move to Spurs to work under Pochettino rather than play for Arsenal.
This is supported by the fact that Tottenham are consistently playing Champions League football, whilst Arsenal have failed to reach Europe’s elite competition for two successive years – which leads on to the next factor.
Champions League Football
Ask any elite footballer whether they would prefer playing in the Champions League or Europa League, and guaranteed all of them will say Champions League.
Tottenham Hotspur can offer just that – regular Champions League football.
For years, Tottenham struggled to make the Champions League on a regular basis. In fact, the 2010/11 season was the first time the club ever qualified for the competition, with the last time they competed in the elite competition being in 1961/62.
It has now been four seasons in a row that the club has qualified for the Champions League. Their consistency to finish in the top four every season is certainly a factor that helps the club attract some of the world’s best players, despite not having won any major trophies in recent years.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have missed out on the Champions League for 3 consecutive seasons, missing out on lucrative prize money to bolster their transfer budget.
Tottenham had always struggled to bring in top players to the club even if they had the cash to do so. They were never in a position that convinced these sorts of players to join the club, and more often than not they would head off to bigger clubs.
The fact that Spurs have an excellent manager and are consistently competing in Europe’s elite competition means that they have become a destination club – an embodiment of the club’s progress.
The club has been on an upward trajectory for many years now since Pochettino got the job in 2014.
Players notice this, and would be excited by the prospect of joining a team that is on the rise and that can bring them success.
Whilst it is true that Tottenham isn’t as big as Arsenal in terms of the size of the club (in recent times), it must be said that Arsenal are in no place to be winning major trophies or winning the league anytime soon.
Just because a club has been big for many years, doesn’t mean its always a destination club. Take AC Milan for example. A massive club – arguably one of the biggest in the world. Yet they haven’t qualified for the Champions League in years, and just recently got removed from next season’s Europa League due to a breach financial fair play regulation.
Its certainly true that AC Milan are a massive club, but there isn’t a whole lot that speaks volumes in terms of persuading the world’s best players to join the club.
Financial Superiority & Better Club Ownership
Many Arsenal fans are unhappy with their current Club owner Stan Kroenke and it’s easy to see why. Kroenke has not invested significantly in the club, and has led to Arsenal not having sufficient funds in the transfer window each season.
This summer, Tottenham will look to finalise the signing of Tanguy Ndombele for just under 70m.
This figure itself is larger than Arsenal’s entire transfer budget of approximately £45m, whereas at Tottenham the addition of Ndombele is seen as one of many signings they hope to get done ahead of the 2019/20 season.
In the current state of football, £40-45m is barely anything, and they’ll be lucky to make a transfer that makes a statement to the rest of the competition.
Recently, Arsenal made a £40m bid for Wilfred Zaha. However, Crystal Palace value him at around £80-100m (Guardian).
Bias aside, it has to be said that Tottenham’s new stadium is a work of art. Compared to most modern stadiums, it sits right up there as one of the very best. From its facilities, to its architecture, the stadium is the shining light that beckons across North London. Arguably, it’s better than the Emirates Stadium.
The new stadium is a reflection of the vision that Tottenham holds going into the future. It resembles their goals and ambitions to be one of the best clubs in the world, and they now have one of the best stadiums to do just that.
In terms of capacity, the stadium is a major step-up from its predecessor White Hart Lane. With almost double the capacity, Spurs will now be able to earn more match-day revenue from ticket sales that will certainly help the club’s finances.
The stadium now means that Spurs can “think like a big club” according to Pochettino. According to the Spurs manager, now that the club has one of the biggest and best stadiums, there is no reason why the club should hold a small club mentality. (Guardian)
He also claimed that the club should always be aiming to qualify for the Champions League every season, rather than it being in “some periods” like in the past.
This leads to our next point.
Consistently finishing above Arsenal
For three consecutive years, Tottenham Hotspur have finished above Arsenal in the league table.
After their horror end to the 2015/16 season, when the club ultimately bottled the chance to end the two-decade hiatus, it marked a shift in the Club’s mentality – to never let anything like that happen again.
Every season since then, the club has finished in the top four, whilst Arsenal have languished in Europa League places.
All that’s needed is major trophies (pressure is on)
Whilst we believe that Tottenham are now ahead of Arsenal, the next step to moving further ahead is winning trophies.
The 2019/20 season holds a significant pressure on the club to land silverware. They have the players, they have the money, they have all the resources available to them to reach the next level. They cannot waste what they have to achieve nothing.
But as of 2019, Tottenham are certainly on another level than Arsenal.
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