Have you ever heard of how cheat codes are commonly used as hacks by gamers to advance levels or get special benefits in video games?
Well, Bayern Munich has a North London cheat code, except that it is as fair as it can get. Football pundits are critical but comparatively mute. There is obviously nothing else left to explain the consistent demolition of the North London football clubs.
On October 2, we witnessed the beating of another North London club at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Though it was not just another club, it was a club that played the final of the same competition last year, Tottenham Hotspurs.
Who would have thought that the Spurs would bow down to a 2-7 thrashing in their own backyard, and, that too, to a side that has not reached the competition’s final since their 2013 Champions League triumph, but guess where it took place? North London!
The Munich-North London romance continues, albeit in a different form. In the last 4 games against the two North London Clubs – Tottenham and Arsenal, Bayern has scored an astonishing 22 goals.
While German clubs are known for their ultra attacking and fearless footballing style, Bayern is no different. The club recently came under a lot of scrutiny for not displaying that flair in sizeable amounts under the leadership of Nico Kovac, only managing a narrow title win in the Bundesliga last year considering it had become a Bayern monopoly. However, Tottenham’s shaming has put a curtain on those recent shortcomings, or maybe Kovac’s tactics are finally coming off age. Who knows, but it was brutal.
As fans of Tottenham mourn at the humiliation, fans of their bitter rivals are returning the favour by celebrating it, after achingly being on the wrong side 3 times in the past, and why not? The former Arsenal boy, Serge Gnarby, led the onslaught and had a bit of a laugh himself. His tweet after the match added salt to the wound. “North London is Red” he tweeted, which perhaps suggests that Arsenal still has a place in his heart and could may well be the motivation behind his man of the match cameo.
Who is to blame for the mockery though? Let’s have a look. Arsenal and Tottenham display a contrasting style of play, so it’s hard to pin it down to simply tactics. The troubles lie much deeper in the dressing room, but just for the sake of it, let’s touch on these tactics.
Arsenal’s woes lie in their defence which is obvious, but conceding 5 goals thrice in a row against the same opponent is no excuse even with a shaky backline, especially for the Gunners. Their possession-based football has also come into question.
Tottenham, on the other hand, has been sound at the back and cope with an overall consistent squad. They play an aggressive, high-pressure game using a 4-2-3-1 formation to crowd the midfield. But something went horribly wrong at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the 2nd October and since, leading to their worst defeat under Mauricio Pochettino, the same manager who had led them to their first-ever UEFA champions league final.
In a nutshell, Spurs never recovered from the disappointment in Madrid. Actually, it could have started in the final, when an uncertain Pochettino, benched the semifinal hero, Lucas Moura, in favour of a seemingly unfit Harry Kane. Moura must be gutted.
Amid the calamitous period, three key players: Vertonghen, Eriksen, Alderweireld are seeing their contract terms expire next year, with no explicit desire yet to extend their stay. As other clubs are lurking to pounce, the players’ commitment and loyalties are re-tested. Two of these players are also victim to recent attacks from the media, reporting a bust-up between Kane and Vertonghen due to the latter’s alleged affair with Eriksen’s spouse, which has been mutually and publicly denied by Eriksen and Vertonghen.
Even though they are simply rumours, there seems to be obvious toxicity inside the dressing room, the media is just feeding off the vulnerability, as per usual. Pochettino is claiming to have a firm grip on the situation, but the current defeat to Brighton is signaling otherwise. The injury to Lloris was just the cherry on top. Is today’s win against Crvena Zvezda more than just a shot a redemption? we’ll see.
Anyway, the same could be argued for Arsenal who had hit a creative roadblock with Arsene Wenger, and chants of “Wenger Out” were rife. And Unai Emery now has a make-or-break season in front of him.
Did Bayern simply capitalise on what is seemingly a bad phase in both the North London clubs history? Maybe, but the coincidences are uncanny. We shall brace ourselves for yet another North London downing, when Bayern hosts the uncertain Spurs on December 12.
Let me know what you think!
Furqan is a marketing professional in the tech sector and an avid sports lover. He is a devout follower of cricket, football and tennis. You can follow him on Twitter.
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