I keep saying I'm going to do these more, then life keeps happening. And Arsenal keep playing teams that don't have SBN blogs, but that's another story. Anyway, I chatted with erstwhile TSF blog runner Dustin Menno from Cartilage Free Captain earlier to get his thoughts on what should be a fun North London Derby for...someone. I did the same for CFC, and you can find that here.
TSF: Tottenham have obviously built quite well on the strong finish to last season. Was there a single catalyst, or are we seeing the fruits of a plan coming together?
CFC: There's definitely a system of high pressing, attacking football being built at Tottenham Hotspur. You saw glimpses of it last season, Pochettino's first year, but this is the first season where the players have really gotten it. It's also, not coincidentally, the first year where Poche has been able to throw his weight around in the transfer window and get the players he wants in, and those he doesn't want out. That the surge has coincided with a youth movement that has made Spurs the youngest team in the Premier League isn't coincidental, but it is pretty effing amazing.
All that's to say that while we hoped Tottenham would improve this season, nobody including us expected us to be THIS good, THIS soon. That's been fun.
TSF: In a season full of strong performances, does one player in particular stand out?
CFC: There's a couple, actually. One of the biggest differences between last season and this season is the composition of central midfield. Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier have been revelations this season. Eric because literally nobody expected that he would be our long-sought answer at defensive mid - he's been one of the biggest reasons why Spurs have the best defensive record in the Premier League this year. And Poch seems to have found the perfect role for Dembele, a physical beast that nobody up until now has managed to use properly. Dembele in particular maybe hasn't been the BEST player on Tottenham, but there's a strong argument that he's been the most important. Look at how our midfield got trucked against West Ham on Wednesday. That's why we're all praying to Nicholson that he's healthy and ready to go for the NLD.
Apart from them, you'd have to say Dele Alli, wouldn't you? He's been phenomenal, and he just turned 20. Unreal.
TSF: Do you think that Tottenham will navigate the murky waters of restricted financing during stadium construction as well as Arsenal did during theirs, at least as far as league position and sustained success?
CFC: I'll say this: there has been a lot of muttering and side-eyes towards the Emirates when the discussion of financing and stadium building has come up in the past year or so, if only because we got to watch as Arsenal struggled financially while they paid off their stadium. It's a concern.
However, say this about Daniel Levy: the man knows how to squeeze blood from a turnip. The financial landscape has changed since y'all built your library, and Levy seems particularly poised to get the best deal he can from a variety of different and creative sources. As far as the team goes, the way forward seems clear: Spurs have a golden age coming out of their academy right now, and I think you'll see a lot more promoted home-grown players coming through, or moneyball-type low-cost signings from the lower leagues or the continent. Spurs aren't going to be spending £40m on a player anytime soon, or at least not until the stadium is open and that sweet, sweet NFL money comes pouring in. Maybe this season Spurs caught lightning in a bottle, but they seem poised to continue that success, and hopefully it's parlayed into a string of Champions League appearances.
TSF: Is there anything about the current Arsenal team that worries you coming into Saturday? (TSF EDITORS NOTE: "lolnope" is not quite the answer we are looking for)
CFC: Are you nuts? I'm always worried about Arsenal. It wouldn't matter if you forced out your manager mid-season, dropped to 16th in the table, and looked like you dgaf for most of the season (oh wait, that's Chelsea, sorry), when the NLD comes around we all rightfully freak the hell out. I mean, sure you're going to be starting a lol-worthy CB tandem of Gabriel and BFG, and you have Cech, Cazorla, Ox, and Wilshere all out. We also know that we're probably the presumptive favorites for this match at home. Doesn't matter: deep down in our hearts we KNOW that Giroud will put one in off his ass and Flamini will come in and score another brace and Harry Kane will rip off his mask to reveal OMG IT WAS ANDREI ARSHAVIN THIS WHOLE TIME and we'll all cry in our beers.
TSF: Tottenham have cycled through a lot of managers, some of whom didn't stay very long at all. What is different about Poch that has allowed him to succeed where other managers struggled?
CFC: The biggest difference with Poch is that his players all love him. He demands, and has received, fierce loyalty from his players, and they've fully bought into his system. ITK from the club (yes, we have sources!) says that everyone is fully on board with what Poch is doing and that know and understand what he wants from them. It also helps that he's, y'know, winning. Maybe I'm naïve, but I really think that if he wants to Poch could stay at Tottenham for as long as he wants. His tactical and player philosophies mesh perfectly with the new stadium and the future of the club, and barring something scandalous, I think he stays as long as he wants to stay. Which I hope will be for a long time.
TSF: What will you name the holiday that you'll celebrate on the day Tottenham clinch a better league finish than Arsenal?
CFC: See, I've thought long and hard about this, and I've decided just to call it "Saturday" or "Sunday" or whatever day of the week it happens, since it'll soon be such a regular occurrence that we'll just take it for granted, you know? #banter
BONUS QUESTION: do you want to just take over the blog full time because we're not having a lot of fun these days ok thanks
CFC: We had so much fun, you guys. Any time one of you wants to break an limb and get screwed by the American healthcare system, you just let us know. We're here for you.