Nine long years: Beat Tottenham & Arsenal will prove they really can go all the way
There was a time when Arsenal winning at Tottenham felt like an everyday occurrence.
In fact, such was the regularity of Arsenal victories at the home of their neighbours, fans used to cheekily refer to it as ‘Three Point Lane’.
Those days, however, are long gone.
You have to go back nearly nine years to find Arsenal’s last league success at Spurs, when a Tomas Rosicky thunderbolt sealed a 1-0 win in March 2014.
Since then Arsenal have tried eight times to claim the bragging rights at the home of their north London rivals and have ended up disappointed on each occasion, losing six and drawing twice. That’s two points from a possible 24.
North London tends to be red when the two teams meet at the Emirates. But when the derby is at Tottenham, it’s been white for a long time now.
None more so than the last time Arsenal made the short trip down the Seven Sisters Road at the end of last season.
Mikel Arteta’s side went into the game knowing that victory would guarantee them Champions League football at their neighbours’ expense.
But they fluffed their lines in spectacular style, losing 3-0 in a game that saw them reduced to 10 men within half an hour following a red card to Rob Holding.
Tottenham went on to claim fourth spot, with Arsenal having to settle for another season in the Europa League.
It was a massive opportunity missed and the latest in a growing line of derby disasters for Arsenal away from the Emirates.
“There’s a lot of things to learn from, a lot of things to take from there,” Arteta said, when casting his mind back to that painful defeat.
“It was a very difficult day, especially the way the game developed and what actually happened. But obviously you learn a lot from difficult moments and we certainly did.
“We’re in a different place now, but we’ll have to show that playing the way we want to play.”
There have been three north London derbies in the Premier League since Spurs moved into the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Arsenal have yet to pick up a single point, losing all three games while only scoring once.
Fully focused on Sunday 👊— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 13, 2023
📍 London Colney pic.twitter.com/Xp1bT2kEpJ
That’s what awaits them on Sunday afternoon as they make the short journey across the capital looking to maintain their advantage at the top of the Premier League.
Arteta’s side have passed almost every test that has come their way this season. But Sunday could well be the toughest yet.
Victory would be a statement few could ignore.
It would be perhaps the final confirmation needed to prove that this Arsenal team is different. That they could go all the way.
“We haven’t won there, so that’s the challenge that we have ahead of us,” said Arteta.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us. We know how much it means for us on the [league] table and how much it means for our people as well.
“We’re going to have to focus on playing well and doing what we have to do to win the game.
“That’s the challenge that we have. We have to beat them at their place. That’s the way we have prepared the game.”
One of the key things for Arsenal on Sunday will be keeping their emotions in check - both on the pitch and on the touchline.
Arteta has come in for some stinging criticism in recent weeks over his antics, especially after the draw with Newcastle when his behaviour towards the fourth official was widely slammed.
Some have suggested that his aggressive and sometimes chaotic demeanour on the touchline could have an impact on his team - a suggestion that has only been fuelled by the fact that Arsenal have now been hit by successive charges by the Football Association for the conduct of their players against Newcastle and Oxford United.
Arteta’s side simply can’t afford to lose their heads amid the cauldron of the derby this weekend.
They did that last time out at Tottenham and paid the ultimate price, with Holding’s early red card ending any hopes of victory.
Avoiding something similar happening this time around will be crucial to their chances of ending their miserable run at the home of their rivals.
“We have to defend ourselves and we need to lead the game with the passion that it and this club deserves," Arteta said.
“And we need to be competitive. That’s for sure. Within the law and all the time respecting the opponents and the referees.
“I care a lot about the reputation of the club. Mine I can’t control. I am who I am.
“It’s not that I don’t care, but I care a lot more when I’m at home. I care about my wife’s things, stuff you don’t see. But when I’m in the public eye, I think about what I can do best for the club, how I can defend the players. This is my role.”