Arsenal v Spurs for a Champions League spot: Lasagne, Marton Fulop & what’s next?

With the title sown up and relegation places decided, all eyes will be on north London rivals Arsenal (away at Newcastle) and Tottenham (home to Sunderland) on the final afternoon of Premier League action in 2012/2013.

In a sign of where Arsenal and Spurs have found themselves in recent seasons, this is of course not the first time that they have gone into the final day of a Premier League season battling out for the final Champions League spot.

May 7, 2006

Martin Jol’s Spurs were in the box seat on this day, knowing a win at West Ham would secure Champions League football for the first time in the club’s history. (Not including their European Cup run in 1961.)

Illness hit the Tottenham side on the morning of their trip to Upton Park and the Hammers did Arsenal a favour, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Carl Fletcher and Yossi Benayoun.

The game was not short of drama though as Spurs legend Teddy Sheringham saw a penalty saved by Paul Robinson and Jermain Defoe had equalised for sickness ravaged Spurs, initially put down to a dodgy lasagne in the build-up to the game.

Arsenal took full advantage, easing past Wigan 4-2 in the final game at Highbury with Thierry Henry claiming a hat-trick.

May 13, 2012

This time last season Arsenal were third, a point ahead of Tottenham in fourth. The Gunners travelled to the Hawthorns for Roy Hodgson’s last game with Spurs entertaining Fulham.

The final day was complicated by the fact Chelsea could secure the fourth Champions League spot with a win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, which of course, they duly did.

Enter Marton Fulop, West Brom’s Hungarian keeper who came in for Ben Foster and had spent the formative years of his career at Spurs.

Fulop had a mare and Arsenal held on to a 3-2 victory. Chelsea’s penalty shoot-out win at the Allianz Arena put paid to another stab at Champions League football for Harry Redknapp’s Spurs.

Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Fulham was almost forgotten.

Harry Redknapp is quoted in today’s Sunday Sun as saying: “missing out on Champions League spot left me feeling physically sick.”

May 19, 2013

In two of the past seven seasons Arsenal have pulled the Champions League rug from underneath Spurs’ feet in the final minutes of the season.

The Gunners are odds on to do the same today and such has been their form since losing 2-1 at White Hart Lane that it would be a surprise if they didn’t convincingly beat Newcastle.

Much of the chatter from Spurs has been almost resigned to the Europa League next season, despite a fine first campaign from AVB.

In the lead up to today’s game, Michael Dawson has said: “It’s gone down to the last day again but hopefully this time the luck will be with us.”

In the spirit of Lasagne and Marton Fulop, potential unlikely protagonists today could include Simon Mignolet/Paolo Di Canio or Hatem Ben Arfa/Papiss Demba Cisse in the opposition ranks.

Or, perhaps, an Arsenal or Spurs player will lift/lower themselves to hero/villain status. Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott are of course prime candidates for the hero category.

It would be a surprise if neither side fails to find a new hero/laughing stock by the end of today’s play.

As a sign of just how well both side’s have played in recent weeks, the league table below is of the Premier League since February 1, 2013.


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