Sunday’s north London derby will be the first with supporters in full attendance since 1st September 2019; more than two years ago.
It’s set to be a barnstorming occasion between a couple of sides still trying to find their feet this season.
Having played in classic north London derby matches of yesteryear, Mikel Arteta is looking forward to a fiery atmosphere.
“It’s the most special game of the season at home, that’s for sure,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“It’s a London derby and emotionally, it’s a different one to play. We know how much it means for our supporters.”
He added: “To be fair, I can’t wait to have that experience. Even right now, after such a long time without them, I have experienced some London derbies but without supporters, and I am saying supporters because I think that is the word to describe the people who are behind our football club.
“What they have done in the last few weeks has been pretty special, they only want what is best for the club and it is very different to just being a fan.
“A fan and a supporter behave in different ways and what we have experienced in the past two games is pretty unique and is related to our history, its people who respect and want to promote the values that have been instilled in this club by many people who have been in charge here.
“It is just a privilege to see how they are able to understand, the intelligence they have shown because it comes from the knowledge that they know about our history, they know what we want to do, what we want to achieve and they are fully behind the team.”
Ultimately, while we as
fans supporters can do our bit, on the day it comes down to the performances of the players. In the nineties and noughties, Pat Rice used to collar new signings in the week before kick-off and slap them around a bit until they were in no doubt about the need for the win. While we can’t see Steve Round and Albert Stuivenberg doing that, the boss made clear, his players will be up to speed with why a big game is needed.
He said: “They do [understand] and I will make sure they understand what it means, the history between the two clubs, where the rivalry comes from and what it means to the supporters.
“You have to play that game with a slightly different skin. There is a little bit more at stake.”
When Arteta faced the media ahead of the Norwich game two weeks ago, the Gunners were bottom of the table and Sp*rs were top. Should Arsenal win by a couple of goals on Sunday, we’d overtake our neighbours who have hit a sticky patch of their own under Nuno Espirito Santo.
“That’s the beauty of this sport – changes happen very quickly,” said Arteta.
“You have to be able to see things with perspective, not lose focus, try to adapt and get he best out of yourselves in every single game, because the dynamics can change really quickly before you know it.
“We are in a good place to face Spurs on Sunday. But that’s it – after that we have to show what we can do on the pitch.”