By Ryan Fleming
If you’re an Arsenal fan you have to grimace, knowing all in well that the team you utterly despise more than all, Tottenham, has advanced farther than you in the Champions League. Not only do you have to be sadden, even frustrated, you have to be utterly embarrassed.
It might be a strong word to use, but for a team that wasn’t supposed to advance past the qualifying stages in the first place, to move to the next round while you sit at home has to be rather, well, embarrassing. Sure, you can point to the absolute fact that you had to face a harder opponent and one that is up for the “World’s Best Club Team Ever” award. But in Spurs’ perspective, you didn’t and they did.
Much of the plaudits have to be toward Peter Crouch (despite his silly play that certainly cost Spurs a goal on Wednesday). Crouch, like every team knows, when on the field is the focus of attention, yes, even more so than the spiky-haired Gareth Bale. The lanky, often seemingly unathetlic-looking forward, scored the lone Tottenham goal that saw them off to the next round. One goal you say? Where’s the credit for the Spurs defense? I was getting to that.
What an immense job the Spurs defense did, especially Sandro, the pesky defensive midfielder. They played like one, total unit. Communication was clear and mistakes, well, were obviously minimal. What has to sting the worst, is that former Gunner William Gallas moves on while the Spurs sit idle. And what about the injury laden Michael Dawson. Impeccable.
The question now arises what does Harry Redknapp do? Does the future England manager go for it all, play for the Champions League? Or does he share concentration with the English Premier League and the CL?
For me this is an easy, almost silly question to ask. Go for it. Put all your efforts to the Champions League. For a team that was definitely shown a lack of respect coming into this tournament and proving everyone, including me wrong, Redknapp would be a fool if he weren’t to roll the dice and see what his team could really do. With one of the world’s best players, coming off the bench as of late, Tots have shown the world that they can compete, even beat some of the world’s best.
Already, where they are in the CL, Spurs will cash in on a pretty sum of money making it to the quarter finals. With each quarter finalist making somewhere around €3 mil, the Spurs will be in good shape next season if somehow they do not even manage a place in the Europa League. Redknapp has to ask himself what does he exactly have to lose? Sure, the Gunners will almost definitely finish higher than them in the EPL, but Spurs are playing for a lot more than a place in the league right now. They’re going for a chance to be alongside the best in Europe – with Manchester United, Chelsea and Barcelona.
Right now, at least in the Spurs’ eyes, they are better than Arsenal. And to them and Barcelona that means something. It’s time to step on the accelerator, Redknapp. It’s all or nothing with Arsenal in the rear and the road ahead seems endless.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@TheSoccerGuysOnline.com