London eyes a new order: Can Spurs take over as kings of the capital
Andy Townsend was Chelsea captain, Martin Keown played almost 500 games for Arsenal and Jamie Redknapp was Spurs skipper long before his dad arrived and turned them into title contenders. The power is shifting in London. Lee Clayton listened as Sportsmail’s experts discussed how it has happened…
Andy Townsend: Jamie, your dad has done an amazing job. Spurs are terrific to watch, they play with such attacking power and are having a right go. You can’t write them off as contenders, although they will have to beat Manchester City and Manchester United to take the next step.
Jamie Redknapp: He’s having the time of his life. He has young, hungry players. He loves going to work – and I told him I thought it might all be different this year.
Townsend: What do you mean
Redknapp: I just thought it would be a difficult season. Don’t forget the Luka Modric mess in the summer, when he wanted to go. The chairman, Daniel Levy, did a fantastic job by keeping him. Had Modric gone, it could have been like a domino effect. Modric away to Chelsea, then Gareth Bale might have wanted away, too. I said to Dad: ‘I fear this is going to be a real hard test.’ Instead, Modric stayed, then Dad bought Scott Parker and he has been a revelation. Not just on the pitch, but off the pitch. He manages in the dressing room, sets the example and leads on the training pitch. And you can tell Modric likes playing with him, they trust each other.
Martin Keown: While Spurs kept two players, Arsenal lost two. That has made a significant difference to the teams. Bale is not an international globetrotter, which helps. He seems happy to play for Harry, when he could be in the Barcelona team now. One day he will be. Arsenal and Chelsea will be very happy when that day arrives. Bale plays like he has two engines. An incredible sight.
Redknapp: He’s a smashing kid, too, a gentle lad. Conducts himself well, no arrogance. But he’s explosive on the pitch.
A new order Gareth Bale (right) and Emmanuel Adebayor celebrate during Spurs” 2-0 win over Norwich
Who has finished London”s No 1 most
Keown: With Bale, as much as it pains me to say it, they will finish No 1 in London. Parker has been significant, too, but I still don’t think Spurs will go higher than this current position.
Redknapp: I agree! As it stands, they are favourites to finish third; the Manchester clubs have the edge. But Spurs have 38 points from their last 15 games, which is two points more than City and United have managed.
Townsend: But City beat them 5-1 and United won 3-0. That’s what I mean, they have to reverse those results if they want to push on. It’s City for the title for me, with United second.
Redknapp: I can’t argue with that. They also have to go to Chelsea and Arsenal, so there is work to be done. My top-six prediction is City, United, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Townsend: So that’s Chelsea outside the top four, for you. Roman will be thrilled if that happens! I think they will sneak in behind the current top three, which will mean Arsenal missing out. I don’t see them sustaining this form if Robin van Persie is injured. They look an ordinary team. I will go for City, United, Spurs. It gets a bit foggier after that, but then it’s Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool for me.
Keown: There is an instability about Chelsea. They keep sacking managers. At least at Arsenal, you know who is in charge. Who is making the decisions at Chelsea: the young manager, the owner, or their powerful group of players
Redknapp: If Arsene Wenger makes the Champions League with this team, it might be his best achievement yet. They don’t have the quality of years gone by – of the team who had Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn and that other fella, what was his name
The Invincibles: Arsenal”s undefeated team of 2004 with the Premier League trophy
Townsend: Keown – that’s harsh, by the way.
Redknapp: Oh yeah, I forgot. Then there were the Vieira/Henry/Pires years. Pires scored plenty, so did Ljungberg. They had attacking menace. And they weren’t bad at the back.
Townsend: They were the guv’nors when I was playing in London, although Spurs had one good season under David Pleat. And West Ham had a good season some time (1986) when I was at Southampton. Did they finish second
Lee Clayton: Third. Let’s talk more about that. Alvin Martin scored against Southampton that season in a 1-0 win. You played, Andy.
Townsend: Let’s not. Move on.
Redknapp: I never played against the West Ham ‘Incredibles’ (yawn) – Arsenal’s Invincibles were the best team I played against and possibly the best team of the Premier League era. Now they have important decisions ahead. What will they do with Robin van Persie’s contract expiring at the end of next season It is a nightmare for them. They lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. When I was playing, you might be offered a little bit more money and so, if you moved, you chose the club you wanted ahead of the money. Now City can offer 100,000 a week more. It’s life-changing. Arsenal are all about tradition, but City are all about the future. Who were top dogs when you were in London, Martin
Keown: It wasn’t Tottenham! Chelsea spent a lot of money trying to get past us. I remember one game they were leading 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, but then Kanu scored a hat-trick. It was like that. Every time they accelerated, we responded.
Three and easy: Chelsea celebrate their third title back in 2010
KINGS OF THE CAPITAL
QPR were the highest London team in the first Premier League season, finishing fifth.
Tottenham have only finished higher than all the other London clubs in that time once – in the 1994-95 season.
Chelsea have been the top London club for the past seven seasons.
West Ham have finished higher in the table than Tottenham six times in the Premier League era.
The last time no London club finished in the top four was in 1995-96. Arsenal were the best finishers that season, coming fifth.
Ten London clubs have played in the Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Fulham, West Ham, Charlton, Watford, Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and QPR.
Ninety-five points is the highest total of a London club in the Premier League – Chelsea in 2004-05. Watford hold the record for the fewest with 24 in 1999-2000.
Chelsea’s Frank Lampard has made the most London derby appearances (123) since the Premier League started in 1992-93. Sol Campbell (103) is second. Thierry Henry has scored the most goals, netting 43 times.
Townsend: Wenger was slow to react this time. He allowed Fabregas and Nasri to drift along, then he had to sell and it disrupted the start of the season. He wasn’t decisive with the goalkeeping issue, or his centre backs. They look stronger now, but they rely on one man – Van Persie – too much.
Keown: He’s not a bad player to rely on, with 16 league goals this season. His future is a problem, though. This Arsenal team without him would fall a long way short, although I like a lot of what the club are doing. I was at the ground on Tuesday and the ‘Arsenalisation’ of the stadium is good; all the statues, the respecting of history, the tributes to former players. They are working hard at getting it right, although they need to win something soon.
Townsend: They might have a bit of a wait on their hands.
Keown: They are moving in the right direction. I know they drew 1-1 against Wolves but their tempo was very good in the second half; there was an urgency. It’s a start.
Townsend: The difference between Spurs and Chelsea is that I’m not sure Andre Villas-Boas knows how he wants to play. With Spurs, they get it wide, they get it forward; there is speed and tempo and width. Chelsea don’t have that. I do worry about the Spurs left back, though. He is an accident waiting to happen in a big game.
Redknapp: I disagree. He’s having a good season and, like Kyle Walker on the other side, Benoit Assou-Ekotto is defending better. Apart from that mistake against Chelsea, he’s as good as anyone this season.
Townsend: We’ll see when David Silva runs at him.
Earning their Spurs: Tottenham look like finishing as the top London club
Keown: There aren’t many weaknesses, though. The signing of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan was another we shouldn’t forget. He leads the line well and is working hard. Spurs have a threat from him, Bale, Van der Vaart – where is the Chelsea threat Daniel Sturridge has made a huge impact but Fernando Torres remains a problem. Is Villas-Boas looking at him and thinking: ‘I am going to work hard to get the best out of him’ Or is he thinking: ‘He’s not my signing’ Torres needs early balls into the channels to turn and run on to, like Steven Gerrard used to play to him at Liverpool. Selling Nicolas Anelka, who is a terrific player, to China is not clever. And I’m not impressed with the treatment of Alex, either. You need those players. They have won medals and have experience. That’s what I mean about Chelsea being unsettled. It’s why I think Arsenal can finish ahead of them.
Townsend: Spurs are the No 1 in London now, definitely; the manager has them playing to their strengths. He’s a top manager.
Keown: Harry has a good team of coaches around him, too – Joe Jordan, Kevin Bond, Clive Allen, Les Ferdinand, Tim Sherwood. And I guess his son might know one or two things about the game. How often are you in your dad’s ear, Jamie
Redknapp: We speak regularly but Dad relies heavily on the people around him. It’s a strong group. They work well together.
Keown: Will he take them with him to the England job, then Does he need a defensive coach, too
Redknapp: No comment! I don’t know. He’s happy at Spurs. Very happy. But there is still a lot to do. Arsenal won’t go quietly. They lost Fabregas, who has scored eight league goals for Barcelona this season, and haven’t recreated that midfield threat. It’s not easy. They won’t roll over and allow Spurs to finish above them that easily.
Keown: I hope that’s true.
Townsend: But this is Tottenham’s best opportunity. This is their moment. If they are going to shift the power in London, Spurs have to do it now. The Manchester clubs will be laughing at all this, by the way, a local squabble for third while they fight for the big trophy.