Mikel Arteta aims to draw upon memorable derby wins as Arsenal host Tottenham

Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
·3-min read

Mikel Arteta will be looking to channel memorable north London derby victories as a player to win his first game against Tottenham as Arsenal manager on Sunday.

The Spaniard has lost his previous two games against Spurs since taking charge at the Emirates Stadium in December 2019.

Both have been played across north London at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but Arsenal play host to their neighbours this time around.

Arteta competed in nine derby clashes against Spurs during his five-year stint in the Arsenal midfield – losing only twice.

Ahead of the latest meeting of the local rivals, Arteta recalled some of his favourite experiences from the fixture, selecting a 5-2 comeback win in February 2012 as his highlight.

“I played in some magnificent north London derbies because we won some beautiful games against them,” he said.

“The most important one was probably at the Emirates when we made a huge comeback after going down.

“I remember the atmosphere that day was rocking, and just feeling that the fans were so happy was emotional.”

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Arteta’s memories of their last derby, back in December, are not quite as happy as the Gunners dominated possession but ultimately lost 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“The last game, we started really well, we were dominant and the first time they went over the halfway line they scored,” he said.

“That’s the quality, they are a well-organised team, a big threat in every counter-attack situation, great individuals skills and great organisation.

“You can see the team fights and believes absolutely in what the manager’s ideas are, so it will be a really tough game.”

Arteta admits it was painful to lose his two first meetings with Tottenham as a manager but is keen to change that this time out – even if there will be no fans present to savour it.

Mikel Arteta (left) and Scott Parker
Arteta (left) competed in nine derby clashes against Spurs during his five-year stint in the Arsenal midfield – losing only twice (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Asked if it hurts to have been defeated in both derbies to date, the 38-year-old replied: “Yes.

“We have played twice, they have been really tight games decided by some small details but hopefully we can change that on Sunday and get the three points.

“We know how the fans are going to be around their TVs, they are going to be supporting us, they are going to be cheering for us and hopefully we can give them a moment of happiness.”

Arteta will at least have history on his side – Tottenham have not won in the Premier League at Arsenal since he was still playing for Everton back in 2010.

Gareth Bale scored for the visitors in a 3-2 victory that day and will likely be in the Spurs side that lines up at kick-off some 11 years later.

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“To extend that level over such a period of time is incredibly difficult,” Arteta said of the Wales forward, who is on loan from Real Madrid until the summer.

“I think for creative players it is even more difficult because obviously the demands that they have is to win football matches all by themselves.

“For an individual to do that with the level of organisation, detail and preparation these days it becomes extremely difficult.

“I think the way he has come back is also merit to the player because he has shown he wants to do it again.

“But also the club, the manager and the coaching staff, they probably find a way to get the best out of him when people thought that probably wasn’t the case – and I think that is what good managers and players do.”