Neill: Arsenal v Spurs - get ready for another derby cracker
PUBLISHED: 17:48 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:30 07 September 2010
Twelve months may have passed, but it still hurts. It s exactly a year to the day since Tottenham stunned the Emirates with two goals in added time to, somehow, scrape the unlikeliest of draws. When Aaron Lennon capped a stunning fightback for new Spurs b
Twelve months may have passed, but it still hurts.
It's exactly a year to the day since Tottenham stunned the Emirates with two goals in added time to, somehow, scrape the unlikeliest of draws.
When Aaron Lennon capped a stunning fightback for new Spurs boss Harry Redknapp as they drew 4-4 at Emirates, it was a result that Arsenal would never fully recover from.
"We're angry and disappointed," croaked a visibly shell-shocked Arsene Wenger after seeing his side blow a 4-2 lead with just seconds remaining. "We were not rewarded because we lacked maturity, the result is down to inexperience.
"My team produced an outstanding performance and deserved to win - what happened to us when we were winning should never have happened."
A year on, it sounds all rather familiar.
Compare and contrast to last Sunday and another heated London derby; that 2-2 draw at West Ham.
"We need to learn from our mistakes ... when we are leading to kill the games off and keep playing the way we want to play the game," said Wenger after seeing another two goal lead thrown away in the latter stages of a game that should have been done and dusted long before.
It's a problem, but not one we should be preoccupying ourselves with too much, says Terry Neill, who managed both north London clubs after skippering the Gunners during his playing days.
Instead, he is licking his lips in anticipation at another humdinger of a derby.
"Arsenal have lost leads late on and that is disappointing, but do we really want Arsene Wenger to change his entire philosophy? I know I don't and I don't know many who do," Neill tells Ham&High Sport ahead of Saturday's big Emirates clash.
"In Pat Rice and Boro Primorac, Arsene has two great coaches who were both outstanding defenders in their playing days.
"I would expect them to maybe have a word or two with some of the defenders on the training ground, but all in all, I don't see this being a major problem, despite some of the stuff that has been written in the press."
But that 4-4 draw a year ago remains in the minds of all Arsenal fans - and for all the wrong reasons.
Neill says it's a game that will be remembered for years to come - not least in the home and away dressing rooms on Saturday lunchtime.
"The 4-4 will be in the minds of both managers, I'm sure," adds Neill. "How can it not be? The game had everything. I think, most importantly from Arsene's point of view, it will also serve as a reminder as to what can happen in this fixture.
"But both managers just love attacking football so whose to say we won't see another eight goals on Saturday? OK, it's unlikely, but in Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp we have two men who just don't do negative. It is not in their DNA - goals have been their trademarks since they both got into the managerial game.
"And that is what makes this weekend's match so exciting. The north London derby is always a wonderful affair, and Saturday's game could be another belter. It will be THE game for entertainment this weekend."
Redknapp's managerial record against Arsenal, the club he supported as a boy in the 1950s, is appalling, with just two wins in 30 attempts.
Neill says that means nothing.
"He has been a breath of fresh air for Tottenham since coming in a year ago. Now they are seriously challenging for the top four and playing some brilliant football. He has brought confidence and stability to White Hart Lane.
"I think Harry has been an inspired appointment - the Harry philosophy is to always be positive. It is just what Tottenham needed and Tottenham is just what he needed."
Back to Arsenal, his first love, Neill has also been impressed this season.
"Something is happening at the club. Players are growing up and the football this season, at times has been extraordinary. Really magnificent stuff of the very highest level. This is a golden era for the club and when Arsene says he believes they are close to winning trophies I can see why."
And as for this weekend?
"Well," smiles Neill, "I am not one for making predictions, but Arsenal will expect to win as they are at home.
"All I will say is there will be goals, and hopefully lots of them, maybe at both ends. Put it this way, if it is a 0-0 I will be absolutely astonished...