’Twas Hallows Eve, when all throughout the North, tempers flared and so anger came forth. Curses and rants swarmed Arsenal Fan TV, while crooked fingers lay towards Dele Alli.
This is a tale of two establishments, possessing a bitter rivalry spanning decades, who have well and truly been struck by the fear of Halloween. The sporting clubs ever present in the top six for the past ten years, are now falling into unrest.
Double double, toil and trouble. North London burns and fans’ tempers bubble. Or so the old Shakespeare poem goes, right? Well, whatever was originally written in 1606, it’s safe to say that fans of Tottenham and Arsenal couldn’t care less given the state of their current clubs.
Spurs, who have registered just four points in the month of October, (in all competitions too), fell down to 11th after the weekend’s matches. It’s their worst start to the season since 2008/09, during which they failed to win any of their first 8 games, even with Gareth Bale and Luka Modric at the wheel.
There’s still no excuse now, as the squad contains the likes of Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, the former being a recent nominee for the Ballon d’Or. Yet their results of late have been so poor, perhaps a ghoul-like haunting could be the only possible explanation.
To some, the evidence of something supernatural in Tottenham is justified. In fact, Dele Alli was so quiet last weekend that it was almost like he’d put his Casper The Friendly Ghost costume on a few days early.
He managed just one shot the whole game, made almost no runs in behind the backline,and created very little for anyone else, all of which added up to suggest a rather absent performance to those watching.
Followers of the 23 year old will remember a time when Alli was making explosive runs in behind, playing with desire, and dynamically linking up with his teammates to give him the title of the world’s next best playmaker.
In fact, Alli’s on-field hunger was so much so that most Spurs fans will remember his notorious temper, and frequent bookings. And yet most supporters would probably welcome this with open arms in the current season, if anything just to prove that there is still fire in his belly.
Of course, it’s not all Alli’s fault. Christian Eriksen hasn’t been the same since talks of his departure to Real Madrid intensified in the summer. Hugo Lloris was making blunders almost weekly before his injury, and Harry Kane is being so tightly man-marked that he is having to drop nearly as deep as a defensive midfielder.
All of this was only exemplified in the weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool. The gulf in class against The Reds was so evident, it was hard to believe it’s only been five months since the two teams battled it out in the Champions League Final.
Alexander-Arnold and Robertson made Rose and Aurier look like two schoolboys who were playing football just to skip their geography lesson. They were completely all over the place. Ironically for them, maybe attending the class would’ve given them a little insight into some decent positioning.
Speaking of geography, you only have to travel four miles across London to find another club clearly feeling the tremors of some Halloween scares. Arsenal’s October has also featured some truly awful performances, not the least of which being Wednesday night’s defensive shambles against Liverpool.
Granted, they did score five goals, but a team that scores this many, and still loses the game, clearly has issues (even if it was decided on penalties). The Gunners managed to throw away a 3-1 lead, then a 4-2 lead, and finally a 5-4 lead – the latter being in the 94th minute.
This will be something they must be used to by now given they also managed to lose a two goal cushion against Crystal Palace on Sunday. At least, if there is any consolation for the fans, Granit Xhaka didn’t play after his weekend’s antics.
After being substituted in the 61st minute, whilst the game was in the balance at 2-2, Xhaka walked off so slowly that he received some rightful abuse from the fans. Yet instead of running off the pitch to allow his team more time to win, he continued to trudge, cupping his hand around his ear, and telling the Emirates faithful to ‘f**k off’.
The local fans’ YouTube channel, Arsenal Fan TV, wasn’t happy to say the least. For those who haven’t seen it, you may be wondering if the videos are a calm and considered deconstruction of the most recent fixture, where locals have the opportunity to express their feelings towards the club, sipping afternoon tea and eating scones before a quick round of golf.
Well, perhaps ‘Troopz’, a regular pundit of the series, has played some golf – as he fantastically executed a birdie to camera, directed towards Xhaka himself, in the middle of an extremely fiery rant where he even compared Arsenal’s captain to a WWE wrestler, ‘giving it Hulkomania’ as he was substituted.
Reports have emerged that the midfielder is now receiving counselling, due to the fact he feels ‘the supporters don’t like him’, according to Unai Emery. But, just as Tottenham’s woes aren’t solely down to Dele Alli, nor are Arsenal’s entirely caused by Xhaka.
In fact, since the start of the 2018/19 season, The Gunners have registered the most errors leading directly to goals out of any club in the Premier League. They dwarf the likes of Huddersfield Town and Southampton on that list too, a record which is nothing to be sniffed at.
They have conceded fourteen goals in the league already this term, the same amount as Brighton, and only one less than 17th placed Newcastle. So maybe it is that Arsenal just lack the defensive quality of other teams.
And yet, Manchester City are capable of playing with two midfielders in Fernandinho and Rodri as centre backs and still putting in a good performance, as they recently did away at Palace. Arsenal really have no excuse.
Only time will tell how the two giants of North London will escape their October woes. In fact, a good performance and three points for each of them this weekend will almost certainly be proof that ghosts do exist, and that the Halloween spirits have departed until next year. It would explain the recent results, that’s for sure.
One thing to look forward to, no matter what happens, is that next time the viewing of a good old fashioned Halloween thriller is on the cards, sticking the football on will provide you with a whole lot of tricks, and the odd treat.
Edited by Katherine Guerrero