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So, want to hear about the darts?

OPINION: This season I somehow have to find a way to explain why Arsenal are better than Spurs – while the club and its manager do everything they can to make such a task impossible

20 August, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Granit Xhaka

THE premise at the very beginning was simple. The editor “called me in” and said it was clear that I was quite childish for my age, that I couldn’t stop talking about how Arsenal are better than Spurs. Nobody cared about my witticisms, he said, but it’s loud and disruptive to the office.

Instead, I should just put it all down on paper and we’d print it – it would be an outlet for an inability to get over the day we had to go to school after the 1991 FA Cup semi-final.

So, every week – for ever – it was put to me, I could tell north London why, yes, yes, Arsenal were better than Tottenham.

The shining creativity would come in the skill of essentially saying the same thing every week with a different combination of words.

That’s more of a challenge than you might think – as our weariest readers will no doubt have gathered – but when the column was offered, Arsenal were exciting. They were supreme. They won the Premier League at White Hart Lane. Spurs, meanwhile, were losing to Grimsby in the Rumbelows Cup.

But what would I do if I could quantum leap back into the editor’s office and the moment I signed up for this?

As I sat there in the Brentford Community Stadium on Friday evening, watching an Arsenal performance devoid of any signs of life, the only sensible thing would be to change the chain of events and decline the invitation.

“I’d rather write about the local darts league,” should have been the answer.

This season I somehow have to find a way to explain to you why Arsenal are better than Spurs (and all the others), while the club and its manager appear to be doing everything they can to make such a task impossible.

Sometimes a sense of paranoia can develop, as if this is all aimed at ME, as grim payback for some mean thing I once wrote about Tim Sherwood. “Ah, look at his smug face, well let’s see how he gets on if we sell Martinez, instead of Leno,” the talking clouds cackle from above.

“No, that’s still not enough – let’s fool them all into thinking Xhaka will be sold and then, mwahahahaa, actually make him the club captain.”

Last season, and for most of the summer, Tottenham were themselves a ludicrous outfit, having sold their soul by having Jose Mourinho in charge.

Their exit from the Europa League was stupendously Spursy, the search for a new manager was much fun and then their best player has essentially told the world he has to leave to stand a chance of winning a trophy.

None of this, however, can be savoured. Not with the sentence Arsenal have handed down to us.

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