When a much-maligned Mikel Arteta saw his Arsenal side sweep away Tottenham in the North London Derby, the contrasting trajectories of both sides merged with the result forged one of the more gratifying wins in the fixture.
Tottenham were top of the table after matchweek three and Arsenal were rock bottom. That 3-1 scoreline saw the Gunners move ahead of Spurs just three matches later.
Victory over Leicester four games later extended the current unbeaten run to nine games, the best run the club has been on since February 2020. Meanwhile, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side sit eighth in the Premier League table after a chastising 3-0 home loss to Manchester United.
The Portuguese boss has since been sacked.
Should Arsenal fear Antonio Conte appointment at Tottenham as Italian looks set to replace Nuno Espirito Santo after the Portuguese’s sacking?
Appointing their eighth choice to take over the vacant managerial position, with an ageing squad, a muddled internal direction and with a striker whose heart is no longer in his supposed ‘boyhood club’, the writing was already on the wall.
Watching Spurs’ demise unfold has put a smile on many supporters’ faces. Seeing Antonio Conte inch ever closer to taking over the post has put the brakes on outright elation.
But should Arsenal be fearing this? There is no shirking the fact that Conte is a serial winner; someone with an outstanding track record across Europe and whose familiarity with the Premier League will put him in good stead.
This is a man who has throughout his career been adverse to joining clubs mid-season, is a huge personality who can clash with fellow big characters (Daniel Levy?), and who pulled out of the running for this job earlier in the year for unknown reasons despite being deep into negotiations.
Arsenal have to keep their own house in check, though. While casting wandering gazes up the road might be unavoidable, remove Spurs from the equation and nothing changes: Arsenal are improving in all facets, growing as a team and have the supporters fully invested into the project.
What Tottenham do is their own prerogative. Dreadful recruitment – £50m for Lo Celso isn’t spoken about enough – a striker who is losing value by the minute, and an assembly of people who all share different views on the direction are what they need worry about.
Conte will doubtlessly improve them as a unit: he organises, leads and solidifies. Right now, Arteta is organising, leading and solidiyfing this Arsenal team.
Spurs always find a way to be ‘Spursy’. Perhaps this is the step they’ve needed to dispel that narrative. The step Arsenal need, however, is the one they’re embarking on. So long as this path is leading the club in the right direction, the one up the Seven Sisters Road is none of their concern.
Let them fight their own battles, and let them lose their own battles, should it come to it. Arsenal will not, and should not, fear Tottenham. Never. It’s a club losing its soul.