By Chris Harris
Robin van Persie has been hearing the same three words from Arsenal fans all week: please beat Tottenham.
Those orders have been carried out with gusto during Arsène Wenger's reign with Spurs registering just one win in 26 meetings since the Frenchman took over at Arsenal. But local bragging rights still mean so much to Arsenal supporters and Van Persie is well aware of it.
"When I see the fans in the street, they tell me that the Tottenham game is the one they want us to win," he told Arsenal.com.
"It means so much for these people, whether they are at the training ground, or when I am out shopping. It doesn't matter where, everyone speaks about this game. It means a lot.
"You can sense there is a special atmosphere. It is similar to the games against Chelsea and Manchester United in terms of atmosphere and that's what I like the most.
"I just love to play those games when the fans are on top of it, they are loving it and every single piece of action in the game gets the fans involved. It's great to be a part of it."
Van Persie has played in six North London derbies but, somewhat surprisingly, has yet to register a goal against Tottenham. He'd love to address that at the weekend but knows that Saturday's fixture is just the latest in a long line of huge games for Arsenal.
"I know it is a big game for the fans and it is for us as well. But there are big games every week - last weekend it was Chelsea and we were very happy because we played well. Spurs is massive but we have to win every game in the Premier League, not just against Spurs, if we want to be champions."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 20 Dec 2007