The way I see it - Arsenal v Tottenham

Last updated : 20 December 2007 By Jason Hogan

But such are the realities of life, there are still things in football that I see, hear or read that either make me angry, make me laugh or in some cases leave me in a totally nonplussed state of mind.

When I read the comments made by Blackburn boss Mark Hughes in the press ahead of Tuesday's Carling Cup tie at Ewood Park, I can say that it evoked a mixture of all three of the emotions mentioned earlier.

The gist of Hughes' argument, was that the likes of Arsenal were well versed in the "dark arts" of football and get away with where clubs like Blackburn get penalised for simply trying to compete in a supposedly firm but fair way.

My initial reaction on reading that would have been priceless had anyone been to capture it, I can tell you. It was like I had just become the victim of a classic April Fools Day prank where, for a minute or two, I didn't know quite know how to react. I was that taken aback by what I had read.

It's suffice to say that if having a right brass neck on you is the criteria you need to be a top manger these days then Hughes is well on his way there. Don't get me wrong when I say that though. It is not meant in any way to be a compliment to Hughes. If anything, it's the total opposite.

So, regardless of the fact it was a Carling Cup tie, I was thirsting even more for an Arsenal victory on Tuesday night. And on the sort of wet and windy and cold night up North that Arsenal were supposed to hate, victory was exactly what the Arsenal got - in the end.

There may have been 11 changes to the team but pound for pound the boys who played for us that night put on the best performance I have seen from any side representing the club this year. Why? Simple. Because the boys put in a performance that had a bit of everything.

We showed our skill and flair at one stage, the ability to dig in at other times and then the ability to turn the tie back around when after going down to ten men, the tie seemed to slipping further and further away from us. Brilliant!
It was one of those nights when it would have been unfair to single out individuals because by and large the whole team played their parts in a positive manner.

But I have to give a shout out to Diarra. I have given him a bit of stick over his attitude over the last few weeks. He may have struggled a little when he was asked to deputise in recent league games but he was outstanding on Tuesday. All I ask of him personally is that he gets his head down, stop talking to the press and keeps working. If he does that he will get the opportunities he craves.

Young Mark Randall is young Englishman (yes Englishman) who is highly thought of at the club. And the boy certainly didn't let anyone down on Tuesday. He had a very solid hour before a little fatigue started to set in. He is definitely one to watch in my opinion.

But, whilst Diarra deservedly won the man of the match award, it was highly encouraging to see Eduardo take such a positive step forward in his development. The boy showed that he is ruthless in front of goal when given the right kind of service.

And, dare I say it; he reminded me a lot of one of my all time favourite players. Even though he happened to be a Manc, the fact is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was one of the most natural finishers I have ever seen. He was a guy that just loved to see the whites of a goalkeeper's eyes and he wasn't nicknamed the Baby Faced Assassin for nothing.

I sense that Eduardo is a young man that seems to share the same sort of instincts and its precious little wonder that Arsene himself calls the Croatian his secret weapon. This little fella may still be adapting to life over here but I get the feeling he will have a big part to play in our fortunes over the course of this season.

The reward for the Arsenal lads was a semi-final rematch with our poorer relations up the road and to be honest I do have mixed feelings at this stage about the tie. Whilst we will have absolutely nothing to fear and the lads have plenty of incentive for the tie, the thing that will nag away at me over the coming few weeks is that the law of averages will kick in at some stage and the Spuds may well end up having their day against us.

But that's for another day. The more pressing engagement is this weekend's league meeting with the Spuds at The Grove.

The results the Arsenal have gained over the last few days have both been sweet. But for me, neither of them came close to the one we got over the Scum at their place back in September.

That North London derby was the most personal we have had against them in as long as I can remember. And you only have to think back to the summer to have an understanding as to why I felt that way.

Never had I wanted to see us beat them more than I did that day and things couldn't have turned out much better if I had written the script for the game myself.

Of course, a bit of water has gone under the bridge since then. They are under new management and recently there have been signs of a positive sea change at the Lane because of it.

Still I don't give a rats arse how promising the latest of what have been umpteen revolutions at the Lane happens to be. And once again, I'll say what I always say when this fixture comes around - I couldn't care less if they were able to call on the likes of Hoddle or Waddle, Gascoigne or Lineker or Blanchflower or Greaves in their prime for this game - losing to this lot in our own back is simply not an option in my book.

This game doesn't quite have the same personal edge to it that September's reverse fixture did. There is a bigger picture certainly for Arsenal to look at. But that doesn't mean I have not forgotten all the things that were said in the summer and how they were being talked up directly at our expense by all and sundry. There's no chance of that I can tell you.

So, as far as I am concerned, the amount of pain and suffering we can inflict on them will never, EVER be enough. On Saturday, I hope the Arsenal players thirst for blood proves to be as great as mine.