North London Derby Preview! (with Gamblin Matt Mortensen)
E: I feel a great disturbance in the force; as though a million voices cried out in terror...wait nope, that’s just “Gamblin” Matt Mortensen being in my presence. What’s up you Drogba lover?
M: Well I'm still depressed that Sly didn't win Best Supporting Actor. I'm also tired cause I finished work at 4am and someone, aka you, woke me up at 10:30 asking if I was ready to get this underway. You're lucky I'm a forgiving guy!
E: I don’t have all day to wait. I’m an important person with things to do, like...alright I have nothing important today but still! In any event, because I too am a generous individual, why don’t I let you tell the good people what we’re talking about today.
M: Well I hope you have been improving your chess skills while you've been waiting for me! I need a challenge. Oh look at you being all nice, that's a rare sight. I thank you. We are here to talk about how Leicester are going to choke the title away!
E: Stop lying to the people! You know we’re here to talk about the very important football match happening this Saturday between Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal. Yes, everyone’s favorite North London derby is happening again for the 183rd time, a rivalry full of thrills, chokes and...alright mostly chokes. Hey, this is what happens when you get two sides that have a chance to close the gap with the Cinderella squad from Leicester City and instead end up losing games to West Ham and the juggernaut known as Swansea City. You excited for this one Mortensen? Big implications for this game after all.
M: First of all, it's spelt favourite. You and your weird American spelling ways! Gosh. Looks like you've been doing some research. 183rd time you say? Wouldn't have known that. You know how I feel about Cinderella teams. May I remind you of the NHL playoffs from last season? I couldn't believe Swansea won the other day! West Ham? Sure. I'm a believer of them. I like them for the FA Cup actually. Oli will appreciate that. Am I excited for this game? No. I honestly don't care about this game. I don't know how you dragged me into helping you with this.
E: I did it with the promise of numerous jokes at the expense of both teams and because I thought Arsenal fan/Wenger hater Mazza (he of LOP fame for those of you who don’t understand what we’re talking about) would be here. Alas, this season has left him more traumatized than Rose’s mother at the end of Titanic so he declined. But enough of that; we’ve wasted valuable time as it is. Let’s dive into the game that will determine who finishes second in the EPL this year, the 183rd North London derby itself, Tottenham vs. Arsenal!
E: For me it’s simple; what club will choke first? Not to start this out by being a massive dick Matt, but...oh who am I kidding, I absolutely want to start this out by being a dick. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that both the Gunners and Spurs have a history of coming up smaller than Mini Me when the lights are shining the brightest; hell it’s one of the reasons are good pal Mazza is as traumatized as is! And if this past Wednesday was any indication it looks like Arsenal and Tottenham are right on schedule to start gagging again, a feat that’s even more depressing for their supporters considering who is ahead of them (Leicester, a team that’s had even less success historically than my precious QPR!) and that Manchester City, Manchester United and your beloved Chelsea have treated this season the way a RAW crowd treats Roman Reigns. The ultimate key to this game, aside from factors that are way more legit than this one, will be which club can keep itself from going off the rails first. That is unless they draw; oh goodness, they’re going to draw aren’t they?
M: Hey I take my writing seriously. There will be no jokes from me. Also can't believe you went there with Titanic! Show some class man! Is there any way that Tottenham can lose -3 points? I really don't want to see them win. Their fans are ridiculously obnoxious. But alas I think if a team is to win it will be Tottenham. You could have told me you were gonna drop the spoiler alert in there! Cause yes neither team will win cause it's going to be a draw. The score you ask? Well if I tell the hundreds and hundreds of our fans now they aren't going to read the rest of our column. Both sides have a few injuries that they picked up just a few days ago so I think that is going to play a key factor on how this game is played out. Cech is going to be out for Arsenal in goal. That's the biggest loss for both teams I feel. Had Arsenal not of picked up Cech this season I doubt they would be sitting where they are right now. Laurent Koscielny is also going to be out for the Gunners. That's a big loss for them too. Meanwhile Tottenham will be changing their fullbacks which I'm not a big fan of doing. One, perhaps. Both? Risky call. But we’ll see how that pays off. Arsenal have the fire power up front to put plenty through this Tottenham defence.
M: Arsenal’s form slide. Man, they seemed to be going great guns (pun intended) just a month ago. Ever since then the wheels have seemed to of fallen off. Maz has been getting more dejected each and every week on Twitter. To see him be positive was astonishing in of itself. They've lost their last three matches in all competitions and failed to win in their last four I believe. That's not the tale of a premiership winning squad. They are 1-5 in their last five away games. Beating only lame ass Bournemouth 2-0, I remember that cause I had money on it! They need to find an extra gear here against Tottenham. How they do that? I don't know. But if they don't they’ll have to turn their attention to the FA Cup and frankly that would be embarrassing.
E: Arsenal? A club managed by the worst Bond villain ever doing something embarrassing?! What is this madness you speak of?!
I’m going to go a slightly different way even though we’re on the same wavelength; can Arsenal score? If there’s one thing that’s become apparent to me over the past few weeks it’s that the Gunners, despite all their firepower, don’t have nearly enough to cause the damage they should. Alexis Sanchez, as good as he is, isn’t a prototypical finisher. Olivier Giroud and Theo Wallcot are either the most overrated forwards I’ve seen in years or the laziest (and evidently neither may end up playing according to inside sources!). And Danny Wellbeck, who may very well be the best of the bunch, isn’t exactly someone I’d say is a top level guy anymore. With Spurs, we at least know Christian Erickson and the poor man’s Vardy Harry Kane will more than likely give them every opportunity to put up goals. Where is that coming from with Arsenal? Those Gunner forwards either need to have the game of their lives or get ready for a long ass day.
Arsenal Player to Watch
E: David Ospina. I assume most people will think I was going to pick Mesut Ozil here considering I didn’t mention him at all previously, but the truth is he’s been so insignificant that I merely forgot him before and, now that I’ve remembered he exists, don’t really feel he’ll be that important. You know who will be important though Matt? The guy replacing your old buddy Petr Cech this weekend. I know you’ve had your differences with the former Chelsea keeper but the man has proven to be one of the most clutch in his position over the years and, if we’re being real, probably has been Arsenal’s best player this year. His loss his huge (and stupid; only Arsenal would lose a keeper to injury via him sprinting) and the onus for this match will fall on Ospina. I honestly don’t know much about the guy outside of him being Columbia’s keeper, but I’d reckon he isn’t nearly as good as Cech. He’ll have to be Saturday, because otherwise the Spurs will have a field day on the Gunners from open to close.
M: Hmm. Well I guess this is why we were taking alternate turns so you could steal my Arsenal player to watch! You're an evil man, Iken. Pure evil. Ugh. I really don't know besides Ospina. I guess I'll have to take Oźil. I think if anyone is going to score for Arsenal it will be him. I think he’s going to have a blinder of a game actually but I'm still not sure if that is going to be enough. He’s going to need help and I don't feel Arsenal have anybody else to help him. Playing on confidence is a major factor in how people play and I really think Arsenal don't have any. This could be a very, very, long 90 minutes for the Gunners and us who are watching the game too.
Tottenham Player to Watch
M: I'm going first here, Iken! Don't even think of stealing my pick this time. Surprise surprise it's not going to be the overrated Harry bloody Kane. It's Danny Rose. I'm sure most will remember his debut in this derby. For better or worse. What a goal that was. The guy has been great this year as much as it pains me to admit it. Anyone who covers 10+ kilometres a game gets my attention. As I mentioned earlier players play with confidence and he netted his first goal of the season against Swansea last week so I think he'll be riding a high. He's given his teammates 13 genuine chances this season and he is boasting a 79% completion rate on all his passes. If he plays as good as he has this year in this game Arsenal are going to have a lot of trouble and will be in for quite the long day at the office.
E: Come on Mortensen, we both know it’s that overrated Harry Kane. I don’t like making this pick any more than you do, but the fact of the matter is that Kane is Tottenham’s best player, he did absolutely nothing for them against West Ham the other day and is in fact hasn’t found the back of the twine in the last four matches. I’m no genius, but someone of his supposed caliber has to play better than that if the Spurs are going to want to win this game. In simple terms; Harry Kane scores Saturday, the Spurs will win and Mazza will officially choke a man in his sleep. Harry Kane doesn’t score Saturday and that favorite Vardy meme of yours is going to get some play all across Twitter. In fact, let’s post it right now shall we?!
Gamblin Matt and the Odds
M: The Spurs are $2.40 to win, the Gunners are $3.00 to win and the draw is at $3.25. I'm not sure how to take this game. I can see plenty of goals and then I can also see not many goals. Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their last two away games. The last five games at White Hart Lane the total goals have gone over 2.5 in four out of those five games. Over 2.5 goals is $1.78 and under 2.5 goals is $1.96. If Arsenal are going to win this I can't see them scoring more than one goal so Arsenal 1-0 is $10.00. I can't see Tottenham absolutely destroying Arsenal here. I can see maybe one or two goals but not three. So Tottenham 1-0 is $8.50 and 2-0 is $11.00. Saying all that I don't think it's going to be any of those. No way is Harry Kane going to score, Iken, and I have a feeling that this will be quite a boring game to watch actually as both teams will be scared to lose. That is why I'll be taking my favourite score to back in football and that is 0-0. $10 is juicy odds to me. I can't pass that up.
E: Matt, I can’t believe I’m going to say this...but your result there makes the most sense! Which is why I’m going to say the Spurs and Gunners kiss their sisters and end up drawing this game 0-0. Do I feel absolutely confident about that? No. But at the same token, both these clubs have a history of shitting the best at the worst possible time and I expect Arsenal will continue to have problems scoring goals while Tottenham, in a game they should handle very easily, will end up squandering chances and make David Ospina look like a world class keeper. That said, even without the goals I expect this game to be an entertaining, perhaps even heated spectacle that will be fun for every person who doesn’t care a single solitary bit about either North London side. Anything to add to your prediction?
M: I hate it when you copy me! And that wasn't even one of my insane predictions that you've come to expect from me! I'm surprised you're not rooting for Arsenal here. That’d be the best result for you and those lame Leicester guys. Just a quick note on Ospina, he will be a world class keeper very shortly. He's a good player. Arsenal will be in good hands with him when he fully takes over. So Maz will have something to look forward to at least. I'm sure you’ll keep me posted on this game as there's no way I'm staying up or nor will I wake up to watch it. Go the draw! And boo Leicester and Vardy!
E: Me? Root for Arsenal? Or Tottenham? I’d rather watch NCIS for 24 hours straight. And what the hell is your beef with Leicester?! In the end, the best thing for them (and everyone not named you) would be for neither the Spurs or Gunners to get more than a point while the Foxes take care of Watford (a game that should terrify them considering Watford is no slouch and the history between those teams is wonkier than Bill Walton). That happens and Leicester goes up 60 to 55 and 52 on the Spurs and Arsenal with that relatively easy schedule still to go. I’m perfectly fine with that. In the end, the only thing that matters is Leicester winning. As a QPR fan who loves the underdogs and absolutely loves the prospect of someone not named Man U, Man City, Chelsea (sorry), Arsenal, Tottenham or Liverpool winning the title, the Foxes closing this thing out would be one of the greatest sports stories of recent memory. If they keep winning, not a whole lot else matters now does it?
Matt, I think we’ve reached the end of this shindig. Any lost thoughts or anything to plug?
M: What's with the NCIS hate??? You're a strange man, Iken. Seems to me you have already forgotten that Leicester will be losing to West Ham and you will be losing to my mighty Chelsea on the last day and we will cost you the League. I'm sticking by that prediction and you have no idea how happy that will make me when that comes to fruition. A Costa winner in the 93rd minute. You'd literally cry. I know it! A part of me is liking the Leicester run though. Can you believe I'm saying that? I hate the underdogs. OHHH and yes!!! Make sure you check out our boy Leaf’s recent column! And I guess yours too, even though you didn't tag me on Twitter! I'm tired after doing all the work on this column. Can I go back to sleep now? Actually, I'm off to watch the Thunder put on another choke job!
E: For a second there I thought you were talking about CMLL star Thunder...thank goodness you weren’t. As for the NCIS hate, I’ll never tell!
That’s a wrap folks! Special thanks to Matt Mortensen for his help and banter. I’ll be back late night tomorrow with a review of CMLL’s Super Viernes show. Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi y’all! Till then, a little Vardy meme to close this puppy out!