Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur

Last updated : 10 May 2005 By Bernard Azulay

Arsène could have offered the Liverpool manager the benefit of his Premiership experience, on the subject which has confounded Scousers tearing their hair out. That is, why a team which is capable of attaining the final of Europe's most prestigious tournament, are only trailing Norwich for the worst domestic away match record. Meanwhile Raffa might have returned the favour and offered what's fast becoming the holy grail for severely frustrated Gooners, the formula for Champions League success.

In fact in a game of two distinctly different halves, Sunday's encounter itself proved to be two 45 minute displays of the footballing philosophies of the two team's managers. After another spine-tingling Champions League night for the Scousers at Anfield midweek (an amazing atmosphere of which I was truly envious and thank heavens a faith restoring result which proves that there is indeed a G-d!), perhaps it wasn't surprising that there was an 'after the Lord Mayor's show' feeling to the visitors first-half efforts (or lack thereof).

I was pleased for two Corkonian pals who were on their annual pilgrimage to the Home of Football, as we were all seduced by the sort of scintillating skills which would have left any attending Martians mystified by the league leaders eleven point margin. I don't know what it would sound like in their language but I can just picture one of the Bluer extra-terrestrials being unable to resist the "ah but the table never lies" cliché! They might also have wondered if it was a different team turning out against us in the second-half. Who knows if they'd have the 'barnets' necessary for there to be a Martian translation of "the hair-dryer treatment" but whatever the equivalent, Benitez must have given it full blast at the break, as the Scousers tore into us with the same verve which had their Itallian opponents making like frightened rabbits, caught in the full-beam of a car's headlights.

You have to be more than grateful to be able to get your hands on any ticket for Highbury these days. But with my Irish guests watching from the North Bank, I was a little gutted when seemingly the best of the Arsenal action had taken place at the other end of the pitch. Mercifully Cesc Fabregas managed to round off another impressive performance with his last minute goal right before their eyes. Hopefully our Spanish prodigy will continue to prove "better than Roy Keane" in Cardiff in a couple of weeks and this will be sufficient time for us Gooners to compose another song, since last week's birthday boy is no longer "only 17".

I was convinced Cesc was made of the right stuff from the moment I saw him turn up on a rotten old winter's night at Underhill to watch the reserves. Barnet's infamous slope might only be around the corner from the digs which he shares with Senderos, but considering he'd only been at the club for a relatively short time, it wasn't as if he was dutybound to demonstrate his support for long-standing team mates. By coincidence I spent half-time on Sunday reading a revealing newspaper with Fab, which was handed to me by a discerning West Upper neighbour. Apparently on arriving from Barca 20 months back young Fab threw himself into his thrice weekly English lessons with such enthusiasm that he has now turned to learning French; perhaps a more useful language in light of the Gunners large Gallic contingent.

Can you imagine? Beckham and Owen have a hard enough time trying to get to grips with their mother tongue. Both are likely to return from Spain not being able to order a 'cerveza' in Spanish without a struggle, let alone learning a third lingo! Far be it from me to reinforce the "gormless gypo" racist stereotyping occasionally heard at Highbury, but unfortunately Reyes comes across as somewhat simple compared to his compatriot. Alonso might have been guilty of his best Vieira impersonation in buying the free-kick which lead to Liverpool's goal but it was Reyes' stupidity which allowed him the opportunity to do so, with a senseless shove on the edge of the area.

However with Jose returning to some semblance of the sort of match-winning form witnessed on his arrival at Highbury, suddenly there are mixed feelings about whether Wenger should succumb to his homesick wishes. Although I wasn't alone in speculating on the possibility that this Reyes revival is sunshine related and perhaps the Spaniard isn't destined to perform during the worst of a dirty British winter?

Meanwhile it's Edu's imminent departure which is the source of the most heated debate. Opinions are spit between those Gooners who can't fathom why the club won't find the few (!!) quid necessary to keep him here, when it's going to cost millions more to replace him and those who are utterly disgusted, believing it dishonours the red & white to be worn by such a shameless mercenary. Coming on as sub against Spurs, the Brazilian brought a composure and quality to our midfield, which made me think Wenger might as well make the most of his remainingtime. But the Edu who appeared on Sunday bore little ressemblance. Never mind not wanting to get his kit dirty, he looked like he was trying to avoid cleaning his boots before leaving!

Cynical old me can't help but wonder if there's a connection to the media gossip about him heading for Juve. Perhaps Edu's negotiations have reached the point where it's no longer necessary for him to impress potential employers and his only interest now is avoiding any injury which might naus up his move?

I arrived back home on Sunday just in time to catch JohnToshack's sentimental reminiscences on TV of some marvelous Shankley folklore. Apparently Shankley could see Everton's training ground from his living room window and was in the habit of nodding in that direction and saying "one day they'll get something right". As ever old Bill was spot on. I'm sure there must be some at the FA who¹re praying Milan might beat Liverpool and save them from the embarrassment of a looming Champions League fiasco.

That's not something Spurs supporters have to worry about as another season passes without needing to renew their passports. No matter how the Arsenal fare on our European travels, we've always had the consolation of teasing our N. London rivals "Tottenham watching Eastenders". Well they can now seek solace in another soap with their very own Spurs related storyline., as news broke on Sunday night's episode of Corrie that Weatherfield County's captain once graced the Spurs bench. If you ask me, they should never have let him go, at least not without getting Norris in exchange.