Mikel Arteta ready for ‘special’ first derby in front of Arsenal fans

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Mikel Arteta takes charge of his first north London derby in front of a full house on Sunday and has told his Arsenal players to reward their fans in “the most special game of the season”.

With the coronavirus pandemic halting football just four months after Arteta’s appointment, he has only experienced fans at a game with Tottenham on one occasion – 2,000 Spurs fans seeing their side beat Arsenal 2-0 last season.

It is over two years since supporters were able to watch a north London derby at the Emirates Stadium but Arteta is now looking forward to the experience.

Arsenal fans at a game against Tottenham
Arsenal fans will cheer their side on against Spurs (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“It is the most special game of the season at home, for sure,” he said.

“It is a north London derby, and emotionally it is a different one to play and we know how much it means for our supporters as well.

“I will make sure that (the team) understand what it means: the history between the two clubs and where this rivalry comes from and what it means emotionally to all of our supporters.

“You have to play this game with a slightly different skin because there is a little bit more at stake.”

Ahead of the September international break, Tottenham sat top of the Premier League with Arsenal rooted to the bottom.

Since then, however, Arsenal have won twice while Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have slipped to back-to-back defeats.

It means a two-goal win for Arsenal would see them leapfrog their neighbours and Arteta believes three wins in a row, including the midweek Carabao Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon, sees his side go into the derby with momentum.

“There is a certain level of confidence when you are on a winning run that is really positive to face a big match,” he added.

“We’re all just trying to compete to win the football match. It won’t be any different from them and both teams are going to try and win regardless because they have the necessity.

“We know what it means for us, this game.”

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