Early Doors

Every Rose has its thorn

Early Doors

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Tottenham Hotspur torpedoed Arsenal's Premier League title ambitions last night with a 2-1 win that will inevitably be described as famous.

Before kick-off, Glenn Hoddle was convincing no one when he was desperately claiming that a draw would not harm Tottenham's own European hopes as much as Arsenal's title bid, before Alan Smith politely reminded him that Spurs' next two matches were against Chelsea and Manchester United.

In any event, Spurs collected all three points, keeping them well on course to finish in fifth place and consolidate their Europa League place.

The Gunners' championship dreams were virtually ended not just by the defeat at White Hart Lane, but mainly because Spurs' upcoming games are against their title rivals, and surely they won't repeat the feat against both of those sides too.

Unlike their record against Arsenal, Tottenham's recent run at home to Chelsea is rather good, so the form book will no doubt go out of the window again in their second straight London derby.

The win was kick-started by Danny Rose's 25-yard volley just 10 minutes into his Premier League debut. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp decided not to modestly bat away the idea that he played Rose because he knew he would do something like that. He did, however, stop short of reminding us all how Spurs only had two points after eight games when he took over last season, though.

Things couldn't have got much better for Spurs fans last night. As well as the derby win and Aston Villa drawing with Everton, they got to boo Sol Campbell relentlessly all evening. The only way things could have got any better is if Chas 'n' Dave announced they were reforming.

Arsenal fans must have been tempted to join in with the booing too when Mikael Silvestre came on to replace the injured Thomas Vermaelen just 20 minutes in.    

It was only with another substitution - Robin van Persie's second-half introduction after five months out - that gave Arsenal some hope. The Dutchman showed exactly what the Gunners had been missing by creating chances for himself and actually taking shots, trying to score any goal rather than the perfect one. Tomas Rosicky's continued and ultimately successful quest to hit the corner flag, presumably inspired by watching The Masters, doesn't count.

For the last decade Spurs have often been the Atletico to Arsenal's Real, failing to live up to expectation no matter how much it has promised that this time it would be different. However, this season St Totteringham's Day - the day when it's mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish above Arsenal - will be a lot later in the year than usual.    

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Premier League need not say anything about Portsmouth. They need to give us an award because we are playing as we play with a lot of injuries - it is not ideal for us. But what can I do, we have many players who were injured so we used some players from the academy and I was very pleased with them." - Avram Grant defends his fielding plenty of untested youngsters and a bench with just four substitutes in the 0-0 draw at Wigan. Pompey should get away with it anyway, because they got a result. That's how it works, right?

FOREIGN VIEW: "I cannot believe this has happened. How low can you get?" - Twente chairman Jupp Munsterman lashes out at the people who pelted the team's coach with stones on their way to Tuesday's match at AZ Alkmaar.

COMING UP: There's live commentary of two more matches in La Liga for you this evening - Almeria v Real Madrid is at 19:00, swiftly followed by Valencia v Athletic Bilbao at 21:00. But before that, there's Danny Murphy's latest blog and The Fantasist's Premier League injury report.

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