Arsenal are back. After 11 years without a Premier League title, the Gunners are finally in a position to challenge once more and return to the summit of English football. They're second in the table, the British press and television pundits are purring and it's only a matter of time before Arsene Wenger has his hands firmly on the trophy again, right? Wrong!
The latest wave of Arsenal excitement comes off the back of three consecutive domestic wins. But in the few weeks between now and earlier in the season when people were still prepared to write them off as being too weak, naive and generally unprepared for a title charge, not a lot has actually changed.
Over the summer, the squad was crying out for a new goalkeeper, a new centre-back, a new central midfielder and a new striker. Only one such area was addressed, as Petr Cech arrived from Chelsea, meaning that all the other problems still remain.
A 3-0 win over Manchester United - a freak 20 minute spell decided the game - and a 3-0 win over a newly promoted Watford side is not substantial evidence of title winning quality.
Prior to those results, the Gunners won 5-2 against a gung-ho Leicester. It sounds good, but is it? Remember that Arsenal conceded first and that this is a Leicester side in possession of one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League.
Arsenal's last domestic defeat is more a sign of where they're at. It was a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, during which they crumbled when a key decision went against them. Even with a 10-man Gunners team, Chelsea have been so poor this season, they should have been there for the taking.
In terms of visible weaknesses that will end title hopes, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista have all been in and out of the side on a regular basis, offering no consistency at the back. Francis Coquelin is the only midfielder capable of protecting a delicate defence - if he's gets injured or even simply tires over the course of a long season, Arsenal are in trouble. Theo Walcott's entire career has been characterised by peaks and troughs, so expect his good form not to last, while Olivier Giroud is much the same.
This is not Arsenal's time. This is very much another false dawn, the product of the typically unwarranted hype that characterises the British media. If you want another example of the same thing, just think that Manchester City went from title shoo-ins, to undercooked failures, back to favourites again in the space of a fortnight between mid-September and early October.
Across north London it appears to be a different story. Tottenham Hotspur are not title contenders, but after years of promising so much and failing to deliver on a consistent basis, there are finally strong signs that the current setup is the real deal.
Throughout most of their history, Spurs have always been a 'big club' who underachieve. Countless managers have been unable to fix that. More recently, the likes of Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood have fitted the 'long-term' profile, but neither was given a real chance.
Under Mauricio Pochettino, however, things are very different and this Spurs team is very 'un-Spurs-like'. A previous incarnation might have crumbled on the grand occasion of Jurgen Klopp's first game in charge of Liverpool, but Pochettino's men were the better team on the day and unfortunate not to win.
The foundations are in place for things to start happening in the next few years, where Champions League qualification will soon be a minimum target. Despite being criticised for being somewhat trigger happy, perhaps chairman Daniel Levy deserves some credit for sensing that Villas-Boas and Sherwood weren't quite the right men for the job. What he needs to do now is take a step back and let things flourish.
In the past, Tottenham appeared to have little strategy in the transfer market, buying for the sake of buying. That was never more apparent than when Gareth Bale's world record sale to Real Madrid was in the process of being completed. Now, though, Pochettino and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell seem to be profiling players based on actual squad needs, a method they employed when together at Southampton.
Toby Alderweireld filled an obvious hole in the centre of defence, while Son Heung-min and Clinton N'Jie give much needed options in attacking areas. A good, young squad has been assembled. They run hard and fast and Pochettino's methods are yielding positive results - it's little coincidence that Spurs possess the Premier League's longest unbeaten record.
As already mentioned, Tottenham are still short of mounting a serious title bid. But when compared to their north London neighbours, who continue to fall at the same hurdles time after time, they are finally the real deal.
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