The good news for Tottenham is they are in a far better position than the last time they played Arsenal at the back end of September.
The not-so-good news is the man responsible for the uptick in form since that desperate 3-1 defeat, Antonio Conte, has now begun to chunter on about the same troublesome topic that has so obsessed many of those managers who have passed before him.
Tottenham Hotspur and money. We have been here before and it hasn’t always ended well. This time, given the positive impression Conte has made on the Spurs playing staff and supporters, chairman Daniel Levy will hope to find a resolution quickly.
Conte, 52, is a fine football manager but also a hardened politician and in recent days the games have begun.
Frustrated about what he fears may be a lack of serious activity from Levy and football director Fabio Paratici in the current transfer window, Conte is now surrounded by rumours about his very own future. He may walk out, it has been said.
He could have killed those stories with one sentence as he spoke yesterday. But instead Conte let the subject hang and, as he knows very well, the story will now roll on.
On the one hand, he stressed that he was enjoying himself at Tottenham on Friday. He would ‘stay strong until the end of the season’, he added.
Equally, when asked directly whether he would still be around even at the end of the month, he chose to obfuscate.
‘Honestly, I like to live in the present and not to think a lot of the future,’ he said. ‘Now it is important to live in the present, to improve the situation and get the best out of my players.
‘The present is now, the future is later. Later could be too much late for us. I signed a contract for the end of the season and then one year more. But I am enjoying my time and I have a good relationship with the chairman and the general director.’
Tottenham fans have watched this scene before. Mauricio Pochettino once starred in it. Then Jose Mourinho. They know how it works and that will be the concern. The way it works is that Levy — still finding ways in a Covid world to pay for the stadium Conte loves so much — tends not to be bullied. He tends not to bend.