Playing away from Emirates Stadium against ‘Big Six’ rivals has rarely been a fun experience for Arsenal in the last decade but the tide appears to be turning under Mikel Arteta.
In the last three years, the Spaniard has led the Gunners to wins at Chelsea and Manchester United in the league, secured shootout victories over Liverpool at Anfield (League Cup) and Wembley (Community Shield) and won an FA Cup semi-final against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Reversing our fortunes at White Hart Lane, however, has proved tougher.
Arsenal head up the Seven Sisters Road on Sunday having not recorded a victory on enemy territory since 2014 when Arteta was still on the club’s books as a player. The Spaniard played the full 90 minutes that day with the Gunners’ securing a 1-0 win thanks to Tomas Rosicky’s early strike.
In May, defeat was particularly painful. With qualification for the Champions League within our grasp, we fluffed our lines in spectacular style to hand Antonio Conte’s points that ultimately helped them finish above us.
Arteta is clearly impatient when it comes to securing that elusive victory on Sp*rs territory, but ahead of the match, he tried to put things in context.
“In the last few years there were places we haven’t won for 15, 17 or 20 years,” he noted.
“I would like to do it all at once [win against all the Big Six away]. We haven’t been able to do that, so we have a great challenge and opportunity on Sunday to get that done.
“That’s the challenge that we have. We have to beat them at their place. I think the players are in a really good emotional state.
“We are excited, we are enjoying playing together and we are in a good position. So we have to improve a lot of the things we still have to do, and we have to maintain the things that have taken us this far.”
A win would open up a 14-point gap on our neighbours and put us firmly in the driving seat when it comes to finishing in the top four this time around. A defeat ahead of a tricky run of games could be an untimely psychological blow.
With so much pressure surrounding the occasion, it’s hard to imagine anyone could enjoy it but Arteta thinks otherwise.
“I just love it – that’s the reason why we’re here, to play these kinds of games,” he said.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us. We know how much it means for us right now and how much it means to our people as well. We have to focus on playing well and doing what we have to do to win the game.
“They’re emotional, very passionate, an incredible feeling when you are on that pitch and look around and see the support, tension and atmosphere around it. When you win, it doesn’t get much better than that.
“Once you are there, you realise the moment and it’s, in my opinion, one of the best things to do – actually realise how lucky we are to be in the position that we are in and having the possibility to affect the game.”