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All Guns Blazing: Arsenal’s derby despair was rather fleeting

17:12 11 February 2015

Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker and Arsenal's Mesut Ozil. Picture: PA/Adam Davy

Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker and Arsenal's Mesut Ozil. Picture: PA/Adam Davy

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In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti discusses why this season’s race for top four is set to be a marathon, not a sprint.

Well, that lasted long. In the wake of Arsenal’s defeat to Tottenham on Saturday, there didn’t seem quite the same level of fallout we’ve seen earlier this season. Despite the fact that it was a disappointing loss against our oldest rivals, there seemed a muted acceptance that we’d been on a good run and that our standing in the table meant it wouldn’t take too long to get back on top of them.

Fantastically, it took just three days. Such is the life of a Spurs fan – hope lasts the lifetime of a mayfly.

If there’s one lesson to be had from this season, it’s that form is incredibly fleeting. Chelsea are favourites to win the league simply because they’re the only one out of 20 teams that seem able to put a string of results together – and even they have paled compared to the dominance of other league leaders across Europe.

This shakiness is particularly evident in the race for the top four, where no one has really shone enough to warrant any confident predictions.

Manchester United, despite spending the gross GDP of a third world country last summer, still seem to be relying on David Moyes’ guide to long ball football; Tottenham, despite the form of Harry Kane (whose history increasingly seems to embarrass the ‘one of our own’ tag), have followed up most of their impressive victories with defeats; Liverpool still just look a bit rubbish. If you’re going to give the third or fourth spot to consistency, Southampton still, incredibly, look your best bet.

After Arsenal’s glorious 2-0 victory against Manchester City, there was an air of confidence that maybe Arsene Wenger had finally cracked it. Many even asked why we hadn’t approached a game like that before.

Truthfully, the answer was that we had; just look back at the set-up against Chelsea and Dortmund away. Even against Tottenham, the same tactics were employed, but just didn’t work as well on the day because, against top-level teams, it only takes one mistake in 90 minutes to completely disassemble days of work on the training ground.

The unpredictability of Premier League football is why it’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting leagues in the world and the influx of foreign talent into even the smaller teams has only increased the mayhem. It’s great to watch, but it’s making the race for Champions League football more of a marathon than a sprint.

Follow me @alexbellotti

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