The way I see it - Tottenham v Arsenal

Last updated : 06 February 2009 By Jason Hogan

But, having said that, I couldn't help myself becoming engrossed in the events that unfolded on the last day of the window (or to be accurate in our particular case, the day after the window closed).

Like many people, I was snowed in on Monday and had no viable means of getting to work. So there I was at home drinking endless cups of tea watching all the deadline day drama unfold on TV. Needless to say, I was primarily interested in whether we would finally get Arshavin which we did. But since then, the press and the media have been going round trying to whip up stories of foul play surrounding the deal.

Personally, I don't give a monkeys about all of that, to be honest. Besides, given all the time we have put in to make this deal happen, I really don't think that anyone connected with Arsenal will have neither the energy nor the time to care about what outsiders may think about the situation.

In any case, I think the acquisition of Arshavin has been made more with next season in mind, really. The boy has hardly played any football at all since November and I think the remainder of the season will be used as an acclimatisation period. As I said a few weeks ago, the signing of Arshavin represents a small step in the right direction and nothing more than that. The time to really judge him will come next season.

However, there is often a difference between what people want and what they need and in Arsenal's case, we have failed, just as we did in the summer, to bring in the type of players we really need right now. And, as a result, I think a top four finish still remains anything but a certainty for us this year.

All season long, I have found myself constantly thinking back to last summer and how underwhelmed I was over the level of transfer activity that took place at Arsenal.

And, even before a ball had even been kicked last August, I found myself thinking for the first time since he took over, that Arsene Wenger had to really prove to me, as a Gooner, that the path he has chosen to take is actually the right one and that he could man manage and motivate the troops he has effectively in spite of everything that did (or did not) happen in the summer.

With that in mind, I also felt one of two things had to happen at Arsenal over the course of this season for it to be measured as any kind of success. Either the existing squad stepped up together mentally as a group (regardless of who had left, who was injured, who we tried and failed to bring in, or our finances as a club, etc). Or, by the time January came around, we brought in two or three players who will give the team a stronger mental edge and some extra know how. As far I can see none of those things, for whatever reason, has really happened.

Looking back over the first half of the season, it wasn't so much the number of defeats we incurred which were painful to bear. It was invariably the manner of the defeats which really hurt me the most. To be honest, I saw the defeat to Stoke coming not so much from a mile off but pretty much from the other side of the world. It was that predictable. And I still find myself wincing whenever I think about the defeats we suffered away to Fulham and at home to Hull.

But the one that really took the biscuit for me was our defeat to the Abu Dhabi boys at Eastlands. I remember listening to the game on the radio and for the first 44 minutes or so it was a nothing game with nothing of any significance happening at all.

I even remember thinking to myself that the points were there for the taking if we upped our game a couple notches after the break. Then, out of nowhere, Ireland popped up to score on the stroke of half time for City and from that moment on, Arsenal well and truly collapsed.

In fairness, we haven't been beaten since then and it would be wrong not to give the lads credit for that. But in football as in life, you can't really expect to achieve success by using half measures or being half hearted and you can only get away with doing certain things in a certain way for so long without repercussions.

This brings me nicely round to our trip to Shite Hart Lane. For the first time I can remember, I feel nervous about us going there to play that lot.

I say that not because I think our poorer relations have a team that are anything special to write home about but because derby games, above all others, are normally won and lost in midfield. And, whereas they will have plenty of options at their disposal in that department, we will, in the absence of Diaby through injury and suspension, have to rely on Messrs Eboue and Song to do our bidding for us alongside Denilson and Nasri in all probability.

Given this, I would be lying through not only through my teeth but via every one of my orifices if I said to you I was confident over that midfield combination getting us a result. There will be a huge deal of pressure on Nasri to play well because, out of the four I've mentioned, he is the only one in my view that is remotely capable of influencing the game and providing any kind of decent service to our strikers.

Speaking of which, I hope that Messrs Adebayor and van Persie make sure they bring their shooting boots with them. Adebayor has always polarised opinion amongst Gooners and I get the feeling that more and more of them that once supported him are now fast becoming disenchanted with him particularly after the two sitters he missed against West Ham last week. He really has to start stepping up to the plate and bringing his A game.

Mind you, the same could be said of everyone wearing an Arsenal shirt this coming Sunday.