'This is more than just a derby'

Is it a good time to face Tottenham? Why can’t Spurs win at Wembley? How much of a factor will Harry Kane be on Sunday?

Arsene Wenger fielded all these questions and more ahead of the north London derby.

Read on for his responses:

on how he rates this Tottenham side…
It is an interesting clash. For us it is a very important game because we are in a strong position in the league that we want to strengthen. Overall Tottenham [are in a good position] as well, so it is very tight at the top of the league. We are more focused that it is a home game, and whether it is Tottenham or somebody else, we want to win our home games because our position in the league is very important. We go into a period where we play big games and we want to win the big games.

on Spurs playing their home games at Wembley…
I don’t know. I didn’t put our problems specifically down to Wembley. At the time, when we lost it was against Barcelona. Barcelona are Barcelona. We lost one game against Fiorentina as well and we lost a game against Lens too, but the game had less meaning. I’m not sure that we lost because of Wembley. We lost because we played against good teams.

on what Tottenham’s problems are…
I don’t know, I’m not a specialist so I can’t give you my verdict on that. It’s not my job to do that.

on whether Arsenal have a mental hold over Spurs…
I don’t know, you should ask them that. We try to do as well as we can. At the moment I’m more focused on the fact that this is more than a derby. It’s an important game for us because it’s a big home game and we have an opportunity to show that we have an interesting role to play in this Premier League, and that we can win these kinds of games too.

on whether Spurs being unbeaten will play a part…
No. It’s too early in the season for that. At the moment what is important is that we focus on ourselves, on the quality of our performances. We know that we have done very well away from home, and we can do well at home. We know as well that the success of our season will depend on how well we do at home.

on whether this is a good time to play Tottenham…
I feel, again, that it is difficult to speculate on any weakness to Tottenham. I prefer to concentrate on us, to be strong and to turn up with a top-level performance.


on if he’d be pleased if Harry Kane did not start…
Again, we have to expect Tottenham to be at their best and respond really with a performance that will be effective. I believe the mastery on our side will be no matter who they play, how well they play, that we are strong enough to win the game.


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