The North London Derby

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Rosicky - The derby goal that was so surreal

Tomas Rosicky knows exactly how it feels to score in a north London derby.

Our former midfielder struck three times against Tottenham Hotspur, but it was his White Hart Lane wonderstrike back in March 2014 which will always live long in his memory.
“First of all it was a great goal and it was also very early in the game, so it was after just two minutes,” the 37-year-old told Arsenal Player. “You could see that everyone in the stadium was in shock.
“It was so quiet and such a surreal moment that you could only hear the Arsenal fans 100 metres behind you. The rest of the stadium was completely quiet. I love this goal and what happened after. It is a great memory.
“I always knew they were special games and I always understood the meaning of the derby, because I always played in the derbies when I was at Sparta Prague and Dortmund, where there is a big derby against Schalke.
“I always understood the meaning of the derby and I knew what it meant for people here. For me, it was always a special game. I was fortunate that I could score some nice goals against them. Maybe I will see if I still have some boots in my locker for this game!”

Pre-Match Report

Tottenham v Arsenal: The Brief

In terms of timely results, winning 5-1 the week before you face your biggest rivals in a north London derby is right up there.

Both the victory, and the electric performances of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have helped transform the mood ahead of another pivotal clash against Mauricio Pochettino's side. For the stakes are always high against them, but even more so when the fight for a top-four place is as fierce as it is right now.

The fact that the game is at Wembley is another intriguing subplot, and while Tottenham have only lost once at the national stadium since August, we’ve not been beaten there since 2011. In that time, we have won three Emirates FA Cups and three Community Shields - and a derby win there on Saturday would be another priceless memory.

Read on for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. We’ve got classic derby goals, team news, an exclusive chat with the manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.


Wenger on Mkhitaryan making four tackles and three interceptions against Everton...
"People don’t know it well but his defensive numbers are quite good. I think when you are a team player and you want to win games, you help your team when it needs you. Every time you lose the ball you want to win it back, because we love to have the ball but unfortunately to have the ball you have to win it back first. That’s why I deeply believe that if you love football, you love to defend because it gives you an opportunity to have the ball and express your talent."

Arsène Wenger on Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan


ARSENAL: Cazorla (calf), Cech (calf - doubt)



Tactical expert Michael Cox:
“Spurs play their high defensive line excellently, closing down in midfield with the backline stepping up quickly to catch opponents offside, although against the speed of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, this could be a risky strategy. Davinson Sanchez has largely enjoyed a good first campaign since moving from Ajax, but has been guilty of some errors in recent weeks. Belgian centre-back Toby Alderweireld is back in the side after a long injury absence, but probably won't be up at full speed, so Aubameyang may want to make runs into that inside-left channel." 


Wenger on harnessing the emotions of the derby…
“You want a good balance between being calm and cold-blooded and as well [to allow it to] boost your energy levels because your emotions can help you get to the level of motivation and energy that is vital. Once you're in the game, you want to use that energy in the most rational way, and be calm, intelligent, relaxed and analyse well - but determined. That’s why the top level is so difficult, if it is is only emotional, you go nowhere." 

Matchday Show: Tottenham (a)

Press conference

Team news: Welbeck, Cech, Monreal, Ospina

Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Saturday's north London derby against Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

The Arsenal manager provided updates on Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal, and this is what he said:

on the team news…
Basically, we should have a similar squad to what we had last week against Everton. Maybe Danny Welbeck will be back. We had a few problems with Petr Cech, who we are not sure about at the moment because he’s not trained. I don’t know if he will be available. Nacho Monreal looks alright again. It should be a similar squad.

on whether a late call on Cech’s fitness is a risk in this fixture…
I will not take any risk if he’s not 100 per cent fit, for sure, because I have full confidence in David Ospina.

on David Ospina proving he can play in fixtures of this magnitude…
I have no problem with [selecting Ospina]. David Ospina or Petr Cech: I will make that decision tomorrow.


All the latest training pics ahead of the derby

Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck train before the Tottenham game

It's almost time - the squad held their final training session on Friday morning, ahead of this weekend's north London derby.

Our club photographer was there too and sent back these pictures.


Mustafi - How it feels to score in a derby

Shkodran Mustafi’s first north London derby goal was certainly one to remember.

Meeting Mesut Ozil’s out-swinging free-kick when Tottenham visited Emirates Stadium last November, the centre half directed an arcing header beyond Hugo Lloris and in, via the post.

So how did it feel?

on the atmosphere…
The atmosphere at the stadium was really on fire, so from the beginning it was really loud. Coming back from injury and playing in the derby, you’re a bit nervous, but obviously scoring takes all the pressure off your shoulders. It felt really good. 

on his goal…
The distance between me and the goal was not the closest, so I had to head it with speed to give the goalkeeper no chance to reach it. As soon as I made that contact, I knew that I had the right speed. When you look at the ball to see which way it goes, it looked pretty good. It went in, so I was very pleased with everything.

on how the goal was planned…
We did something differently in training. I kind of had the feeling that we needed something else, so I was speaking to Mesut on my way up. Mesut was on the other side and I asked him to take it away from goal. The day before, we said we wanted to take them towards goal, an in-swinger. I wasn’t that close to the goal, and when the ball is delivered from one side to the other, the goalkeeper goes with the ball. I knew that if I was to head it, I had to try and put it in the far post. 

on his reaction after scoring…
I remember that I made a quick turn to have a look at the linesman. I was not thinking about the celebration, I was just enjoying the moment and let myself go. Scoring in the north London derby, I know that it means a lot to a lot of people. Obviously that gives you that feeling that you give them something back. After the game I was more happy for the people than for my goal.

Press conference

'We have to get diving out of the game'

Ahead of the north London derby, Mauricio Pochettino's comments about diving have provoked a lot of discussion.

Arsene Wenger was asked about what the Tottenham manager had to say, and this is what he had to say:

on what he makes of Pochettino’s comments that tricking your opposition is part of the game…
I am convinced that he wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to say that you have to be clever. How far was it an apology for diving? I’m not sure at all. I don’t think he would. In my personal case? No. We have to get the diving out of the game. I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.

on whether he actively tells our players not to dive…
I don’t tell my players to dive.

on if he tells them not to dive also…
Yes, I don’t encourage them to dive at all. But if you look at the situation, I think when sometimes you do not want to provoke a dive as well. Sometimes you want your players to be intelligent, they have played a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on the penalty case. Every striker will do that. They extend a little bit the rules. Where is it and how far can you go? That is down to the referees and I think that sometimes, at normal speed, it is very difficult to determine, I must say. On that front, as much as I can be harsh with the referees, on that front I am quite tolerant with the referees because when you watch a game live it is very difficult at 100 per cent pace to distinguish whether it is a dive or not. Most of the time, when a player is going to the goalkeeper, they push the ball away from goal. I think they had a good rule in England when I arrived here in England. When the striker pushes the ball away from the goal, they didn’t give penalties because the only resource the striker has after is to look for a penalty. In many cases, it’s like that now, the guy goes and if the goalkeeper has their hands off, the striker leaves a leg as long as he can to make sure that the goalkeeper touches him. But that’s not really a penalty.


'You go out and you're fighting for the fans'

After 48 years as an Arsenal player, coach and assistant manager, there is no one better placed to discuss the importance of the north London derby than Pat Rice. 

Ahead of Saturday's game at Wembley against Tottenham, we asked the club legend about the game and what it means to him.

"When you play against your fiercest rivals, as much as Tottenham want to win, we want to win even more," Rice told Arsenal Player. "We should want to win even more. 

"For me, it wasn’t about the winning of the game, it was bragging rights. Having been brought up around Highbury, I know what it was like when Tottenham had a great side in the 1960s with Bobby Smith and John White. I know how much stick we took as Arsenal supporters, and quite rightly too.

"You come up through that and you want [the players] to know that because some of them are from abroad and they haven’t sampled it. You tell them that sometimes it’s more than winning a game, it’s the bragging rights. 

"Nine times out of 10, you go out and you’re fighting for the supporters. You know that if we lose - and please God we don’t - for that 24 hours or so, or until we play them next time, you’re going to get hammered.
"The thing about it is if you win it, everything that’s gone before it passes to one side - it’s not as important as winning the derby. The big thing is that whenever people seeing you trying and fighting for the cause - at least with Arsenal fans - sometimes you may win or lose, but as long as you try and they can see that fight, you can hold your hands up. That’s all people can ask of you."


Check out our best goals away to Tottenham

We’re back in Premier League action when we face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

We’ve scored some classic goals against Spurs in recent years, but which of these was our best strike?

Click ‘Play’ on the video above and then don’t forget to vote in our poll below:

Matchday Show

Follow our LIVE coverage of the north London derby

Matchday Show: Tottenham (a)

We’re back in Premier League action on Saturday afternoon - and it’s a big one!

Tune in to our website for our LIVE coverage of our clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, including:

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up from 12pm (UK time) and audio commentary from 12.30pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip and full match highlights will be available from midnight on Saturday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!