Tottenham show Arsenal a lesson off the pitch

On the pitch Arsenal sauntered to third place last year, demonstrating some valuable lessons to their North London rivals from White Hart Lane.

In overcoming a 10 point deficit and a 2-0 deficit in the clash between the pair at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal showed their rivals how to close out the chase for a Champions League place.

Next season both will again be favourites to qualify for the competition again with the Manchester clubs, though Tottenham will be looking for some luck after their desperate lack of fortune in seeing Chelsea steal a place in next season’s competition.

Their hopes are boosted too, by the renewal of the contract of Gareth Bale. And though Luka Modric is set to leave, Tottenham are holding out for £40 million for their star man.

Compare the situation at Arsenal. Modric may leave, but it will be a hefty fee because he has four years left on his contract. Robin van Persie by contrast, is set to leave for far less, as he has just one year remaining on his deal. That Arsenal allowed such a situation to arise is negligence and careless. They may rue that. They may also reflect too, that they allow players to believe they can push for the exit.

Over the years Arsene Wenger has always said he does not want players at his club who do not want to play for them. In the day and age where money rules, then it is rather easy for players who wish to leave for pastures new to force an exit. Cesc Fabregas was different, tempted he was by the chance to move home to his boyhood team, who also happened to be the best side in the world with the best players on the planet. But Samir Nasri last year and van Persie this are examples of players who have come to believe they can force their way out with relative ease.

That is something Arsenal must remedy. Tottenham have created an environment where players do not have that same belief, that they can simply force their way out through force of will. Modric found that last year, and is having a difficult time leaving this summer. Bale is staying, and Tottenham are not even in the Champions League, nor do they even pay their players as much as Arsenal.

Yet somehow Arsenal, who more than any other team in Europe bar Barcelona have been a guarantee of latter stage participation in the Champions League in the Wenger era, manage to struggle to hold onto their best players. Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle do a better job – none are even in this year’s Champions League, nor were they last year’s either.

It is quite instructive for Wenger and co. They can see how a team across North London deal with wantaway stars, and how they make it work for them, not the other way around.

Tottenham’s experience is a useful lesson for Arsenal, who would do well to learn from their fierce rivals. If they do not, then it may not be that long until they are overtaken on the pitch by them, too.