One of the fixtures in yesterday’s draw for the third round ties of the Capital One Cup set up a north London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. They will pit their wits against each other during the week commencing September 21 at White Hart Lane.
With the League Cup not particularly high on the respective clubs’ agenda and objectives for the season, does the glamourous tie matter much for either of them? Will it further assert the fact the League Cup doesn’t catch the fancy of the big clubs?
The two north London clubs have had ordinary starts to their Premier League campaign. Spurs are yet to register a win, and have looked less-than-impressive in their two draws and a defeat so far.
While Arsenal have blown hot and cold after being touted as serious title contenders before the start of the season, notching just a single win and failing to win any of their home games thus far.
Both clubs will have played three more league games before they kick off the third round tie, and they will also have played their first group stage games of the Europa League and the Champions League.
Moreover, Arsenal will face another fierce rival, Chelsea, in the weekend leading up to the tie whereas Spurs, too, will have no less a test in the form of Crystal Palace, who have been rejuvenated under Alan Pardew’s management.
European commitments and London derbies in the lead up to the north London derby will probably make for weakened sides and non-committal managers desperate to right the wrongs of their sides’ unimpressive beginnings to the season.
Which isn’t quite the advert the Capital One Cup will ask for in its glamour tie, which is a rarity so early on in the tournament. Perhaps fans looking for better competitive edge should look ahead to the other third round derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
It will be interesting to see how many of the first team regulars for both clubs take the field, given their rivals like Manchester United and Liverpool have been handed kinder draws against lower league opponents.
The notion of exiting a competition at the early stages looks damning for both Spurs and Arsenal, who take pride in their glory, and which will, in all likelihood, force both managers to rethink about the possible repercussions of half-hearted efforts.
Tottenham and Arsenal have won the League Cup a combined six times, with Spurs’ four titles making them the fourth most successful club in the competition behind Liverpool, Aston Villa and Chelsea.
With both Spurs and Arsenal being distinguished past winners of the League Cup, the third round tie provides them a fantastic chance to celebrate the poor cousin of the more talked-about FA Cup.
Both teams putting out starting elevens where the majority are first team regulars will be a start, and producing a game worthy of a north London derby will be the cake for the attention-starved Capital One Cup. But all of it depends on how much the competition means for both clubs.