EPL

Arteta: North London derby completely different with no fans

By Sports Desk July 10, 2020

The north London derby cannot be the same game without fans, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, aiming to extend a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Arteta is a veteran of nine north London derbies from his playing days at Emirates Stadium and remembers the encounters with a particular fondness.

"You could sense days before the game that the energy was rising, the expectations – how much it means for the people to defend the badge and the shirt that we are wearing and representing," he said.

"It's a rivalry but a very respectful rivalry and that created a very special atmosphere at the grounds. There wasn't big collisions and hate, but respect and will to win, which is a beautiful thing in sport.

"I was involved in some really good ones, there were a lot of goals and a lot of excitement. The players need to understand how much it means to people. If we win, we are going to make a lot of people happy."

As such, even though he has enjoyed the Premier League's emergence from lockdown, Arteta feels he and Jose Mourinho will tackle an altogether different encounter this weekend.

"It's going to be a completely different game," he said. "We are delighted we are back playing football but it's not the same experience, it's not the same memory and it cannot be the same game.

"The conditions, the context and the feeling that the players are going to have on that pitch is another story."

Arsenal are eighth in the Premier League table, a point and a place above Spurs, who have struggled for convincing form under Mourinho.

Arteta declared his opposite number to still be a "world class" coach and reflected fondly upon their time together at Barcelona in his youth, when Mourinho took charge of B team training sessions.

"He was great. He used to coach us with Barcelona B," he said.

"He had an incredible energy with young players. He was always very supportive and they all liked him."

Shkodran Mustafi appears to have responded with similar enthusiasm to Arteta's methods.

The Germany international was increasingly confined to the margins after a string of error-strewn displays under Unai Emery but he has featured in every Gunners match since the resumption – raising the prospect of a contract extension beyond the end of his current terms in June 2021.

"I'm really happy with him, as you clearly can see. The way he is playing, how committed he is with what we're trying to do, the level that he is showing in his performance every three or four days," Arteta added.

"That [a new contract] is something that the club has to address, but he knows my opinion on that."

Related items

  • Dembele back and Setien confident Barcelona can match Bayern Munich Dembele back and Setien confident Barcelona can match Bayern Munich

    Barcelona have Ousmane Dembele fit again for their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, with coach Quique Setien confident his side can hold their own.

    Winger Dembele has been out since November after rupturing his thigh muscle but is in line for a long-awaited return in Lisbon on Friday.

    Setien told a pre-match news conference: "We have arrived in good spirits. This is the game we are waiting for. We have prepared well.

    "It is a satisfaction for all of us that Dembele is in the squad and I think he will be in a position to participate for a few minutes if we consider it appropriate.

    "We are excited that he can play and get it right."

    Bayern look well placed to go all the way in the competition, having romped to a domestic double in Germany and swept Chelsea aside in their previous European tie.

    Barca, on the other hand, lost their LaLiga title to rivals Real Madrid and have struggled to convince in recent months.

    But Setien remains positive of their chances, saying: "Of course, we are convinced we can go through.

    "We know the potential of the opponent, their numbers and their capacity, with extraordinary potential, but we have that, too.

    "I think it will be an even game. We have a lot to say in this game."

    The coach is keen to ensure Lionel Messi is not left to do the job alone, however, even if he is highly likely to play a key role.

    "Leo can help win the game, obviously, but I have always believed in the strength of the team," Setien said.

    "We will have to assist Leo because both Messi, like any other outstanding player, is weaker without the strength of the team."

  • Davies will take care of Messi, claims Bayern chief Davies will take care of Messi, claims Bayern chief

    Alphonso Davies is capable of managing Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi in the Champions League quarter-finals, according to Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

    Davies, still just 19, joined Bayern from Vancouver Whitecaps in January 2019 but has forced his way into Hansi Flick's first team this season.

    The speedy Canada winger has forged a starting role at left-back, meaning David Alaba has played in the centre of defence while Lucas Hernandez has spent much of his first Bundesliga campaign injured or on the bench.

    Davies was named the German top flight's Rookie of the Season and particularly excelled in both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.

    Now, in the final eight in Lisbon, Davies might be tasked with handling six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

    But Rummenigge told Sky Sport: "Alphonso had a great season and was rightly voted Rookie of the Season.

    "Should Messi play on his left side, Alphonso will take care of him. It will be a difficult but interesting task. Davies hasn't been dribbled past or overrun much this season."

    Davies is certainly relishing the prospect of taking on his boyhood idol, telling UEFA.com: "Growing up, I used to watch him all the time and now I'm defending against him; it's going to be a whole different ball game.

    "But for me, it's just playing my game, changing nothing on my side and just hopefully doing my best against him.

    "We know that he's a great player - we're not going to take that away from him - so the best you can do is try, I guess."

  • Van Persie: Arteta can achieve greatness at Arsenal Van Persie: Arteta can achieve greatness at Arsenal

    Robin van Persie believes Mikel Arteta has the potential to become a "great" coach for Arsenal.

    Arteta has already won silverware in his fledgling managerial career, guiding the Gunners to a 2-1 FA Cup final win over Chelsea this month.

    Though Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League, that Wembley triumph was enough to secure their place in the Europa League for next season.

    And former Gunner Van Persie, who spent a season playing alongside Arteta at Arsenal, has backed Pep Guardiola's former assistant to become a top-class coach.

    "He was a good player. He was always fit, he connected play, he got his goals. He was good," Van Persie told Stats Perform News.

    "But as a coach I do think he has the potential to become great. I said that even after watching the first couple of training sessions, or bits of it.

    "The way he comes across in the media, the way he makes his team play. It's very promising, very positive.

    "He needs time. Sometimes you look at teams or you look at a coach and think 'okay, this coach could have 200 years and it would not happen'.

    "When I look at Mikel, I do see change, I see the positive changes and little things happening. How they work together, how they defend together.

    "They are a shorter distance together. Going forward but defensively too. They have got better at defending set-pieces which was always an issue.

    "David Luiz is having his best games. He gives confidence to players and most players are picking up on that, doing really well and they really play for Mikel."

     

    Robin van Persie is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.