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Are Arsenal Back, or is Tottenham That Bad?

© Sputnik / Alexey Filippov / Go to the mediabankSoccer ball
Soccer ball - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.10.2021
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The North London derby has become a global television event. While this is great for the Premier League's bottom line, it was not so great for Tottenham this time around. Arsenal thoroughly thrashed Spurs. In the first half, they cut through their defence like a flamethrower through butter.
However, the 3-1 win only saw Arsenal draw level on points with Tottenham at nine apiece. Arsenal and Tottenham are two ships sailing in opposite directions. Arsenal lost their first three games, only to win their next three, while Tottenham won their first three, only to lose their next three.
Are Arsenal roaring back? And is Tottenham a legitimately horrible side? The answer to both questions is, probably not.
Arsenal started the season injured and faced a daunting opening fixture list. They were the first team to get the Brentford experience, before we knew they were a side to be reckoned with, then they faced Manchester City and Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Tottenham started the season blazing hot in the most charitable sense of the phrase. They won their first three fixtures 1-0 against Manchester City, Wolves, and Watford.
Arsenal were legitimately terrible over their first three matches. They produced 1.9 expected goals and allowed 8 expected goals against. Tottenham, on the other hand, were empirically mediocre. They produced an expected goals tally of 3.7 and allowed 3.9 expected goals against. Essentially, Tottenham was on a three-game winning streak because their opponents couldn't finish.
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match against Burnley at Turf Moor, Burnley, England, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.08.2021
Tottenham's Kane Selected as Substitute for Spurs vs Wolverhampton
Since then, the script has flipped. Tottenham have been an unmitigated disaster and Arsenal have been mediocre. Chances are Tottenham and Arsenal will likely finish the season around a Europa League Conference spot, but they're both miles away from the Champions League.
Tottenham will play better and Arsenal will come back to Earth. This is the danger of being a mid-table club with top-four aspirations. Small runs of poor or excellent form can trick your supporters into wild swings of despair and delight. At the end of the day, these are two slightly above-average teams.
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