By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger sees Saturday's north London derby as a catch-up opportunity for Arsenal - even if their plight is not as bad as it was back in February.

That previous meeting at Emirates Stadium saw Tottenham take a two-goal lead in search of the win that would open a 13-point gap on their local rivals in the race for a top-four finish.

Five Arsenal goals in the space of 28 minutes put paid to that and Wenger's side eventually reined in their neighbours to finish third - while Spurs missed out on the Champions League.

Arsenal are just a point behind Tottenham going into Saturday's encounter and that's why Wenger views this derby differently.

"It was later on last year," he said. "It was our last chance to catch Tottenham back, because if we lost the game, they were of course out of sight.

"This year is important. Every London derby is important. As well, we dropped some points recently and we want to come back in a more consistent way of results. That’s why, of course, it’s a good opportunity to do that tomorrow.

"The distance is not big. It’s early in the season. First of all, we play at the Emirates. We know that it’s important we are strong there. As well, for us, a successful season is down to consistency of results. At the moment that’s what we are looking for."

Arsenal have finished above Tottenham for 17 consecutive seasons but Wenger acknowledges that the teams have been well-matched in recent times.

"I get that question every year [whether they are getting closer]," he said.

"For some time, we were winning championships and they were not in the top four at all, so of course they’ve got closer in recent years. But fortunately we managed always to get above [them].

"They have a good side every year and they are a team who are now fighting with us. It’s important in the end to have consistency, and certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence as well on the qualifying spots for the Champions League."

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16 Nov 2012