By Chris Harris
"The energy, the intensity, the commitment, the happiness when you’re [winning] - that’s what remains with you." - Arsene Wenger
What's the north London derby like? Mathieu Flamini probably put it best.
It's something that Arsene Wenger has experienced more than most. Sunday will be his 47th showdown with Arsenal's old rivals and, like Flamini, he recognises the intangible buzz that derby day brings.
"It’s a special game because it’s always special between the two north London clubs," Wenger told Arsenal Player. "It’s a game with a big importance in the table and psychologically it has a big meaning. It is always a special game and a game where you want to come out on top.
"I agree about the power, energy and electricity around the game. It’s more the feeling [that stays with you].
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"I remember when we won the championship there, and our last game in the League Cup was a frenetic game. But the energy, the intensity, the commitment, the happiness when you’re [winning] - that’s what remains with you."
Wenger has won 22 of his previous 46 derbies - including four of the last six - and he believes the secret to success is to keep your emotions in check.
"You want to keep a cool head as well," he said. "At the end of the day, you want to control your nerves and you want to focus on playing football. That’s always the best way to win a game.
"There is respect because it's two teams of quality, it’s always very tight and because, over the years, [the question was] always: will Tottenham finish above Arsenal? Many times we had to fight with them for a Champions League spot. It’s always had a special meaning."
ONE TO WATCH
Olivier Giroud has scored in two of the last three Premier League derbies at Emirates Stadium and, more significantly, has seven in seven games for club and country.
Not for the first time, the France international has recovered from a dip in form in some style.
"The finishing is a bit cyclic and it is linked with sharpness, with form, with confidence," noted Wenger. "Sometimes when Olivier has a breather, he comes back with even more desire and his physical strength is very good.
"After, when you have scored in the game before, you are always convinced that you will score again. Once it leaves you, that’s where you have the fight. At the moment he is on fire."
No top-flight player has scored more headers than Giroud since he made his Arsenal debut in 2012. Header No 15 came at Swansea City last weekend after the home side were bamboozled by Arsenal's clever movement inside the penalty area.
"Giroud has worked [on that] and he’s worked on his finishing," said Wenger.
"I believe Olivier has a big quality. When it doesn’t go for him, he wonders why and he finds the answer in training. That’s why I’m happy that he scores. What he does now is not a coincidence, it’s a consequence of the work he did in training."
Tottenham are the proud owners of the Premier League's longest unbeaten record, a 10-match run that stretches back to the opening weekend of the season.
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Mauricio Pochettino's team have quietly crept up to fifth place, five points off the pace set by Manchester City and Arsenal. Ominously for the Gunners, Harry Kane has rediscovered his goalscoring touch with five in his last three games.
How do you stop Kane? Partly by starving him of service, much of which comes from the boot of Tottenham's creative hub, Christian Eriksen.
"It’s always a bit similar because you need somebody who gives the ball to the guy who scores," said Wenger. "Eriksson can be this guy, so when you play against the team, you need to nullify the player who provides. The player who provides can be Eriksen.
"I believe they have a good level of workrate," he added. "They have found stability at the back, they have the spine of the team with Lloris, Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Dier in the middle, with Kane in front. They keep that stable, which stabilises them defensively. They have a good energy level as well."
FROM THE ARCHIVES
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