Arsene Wenger’s plan for Tottenham gives insight on how Mikel Arteta is preparing Arsenal


During his 22-year tenure as Arsenal manager, the Frenchman oversaw more North London derbies than his fair share, so he is knowledgeable about how to be ready for them.

In North London, tensions are high and the stakes are much greater as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal prepare to host bitter rivals Tottenham at the Emirates on Saturday.

These two frequently engage in tense, dramatic games, but this time, more than just pride is at stake. The Gunners are in first place and on a high while their neighbors, Spurs, are in third place and just one point behind them.

In turn, each side is aware of how crucial a victory would be. For the hosts, it would put four points between themselves and Antonio Conte’s team and guarantee that Arsenal would continue to lead the pack for another matchweek. With a win, Spurs would overtake the Gunners and go into first place.

As the Arsenal supporters anxiously attempt to support their team to victory and make it seven victories from eight this season, the atmosphere at the Emirates is sure to be the greatest it has been in some time.

Martin Keown, a former defender for the Arsenal, played in many North London derbies over the course of his extended tenure with the team and is familiar with the excitement that builds up in the days leading up to a big game.

Keown discusses how his former manager Arsene Wenger prepared his team and what he was like before games against their most despised opponents in an exclusive interview with Mirror Football on behalf of BT Sport.

He said, “Well, Wenger was all about us and not about them. We would only focus on one or two of the things we did because he didn’t want to overwhelm the players with terror. Instead, he wanted us to approach the situation with a clear vision and a strategy before putting it all together.

When questioned about whether the team’s current manager, former Wenger pupil Arteta, would use a similar strategy, Keown responded, “I haven’t been in behind the scenes with Arteta on a match day, but I’m sure it is probably going to be something similar because they are a developing team, they are a very young side, and they’ll know where they can exploit Tottenham.”

It is unquestionably a close game, with both teams possessing a variety of offensive possibilities that may harm the other. Before the match, Keown considered the strategy Conte may adopt.

“It’s about Arsenal not losing the game and trying to win it. Tottenham are extremely good at counterattacking, so they might surprise me and play with two forward players and three in midfield to try and crowd things out.

“[Yves] Bissouma came on last time out against Leicester and they looked much better with the two up top but I can’t see that happening, I think he [Conte] loves that front three, they are the three that got him the result last time out against Arsenal so it should be pretty much the same I’d say,” the analyst said.

While some supporters from both teams may become overcome with nerves, Keown insisted that the players cannot even consider losing before the game.

“I don’t think you ever walk into a game of this magnitude worrying about losing it,” said the author. “You are going in there well-armed with the troubles they can cause you, you know where to exploit them, but you just don’t go into these games as a player thinking about losing.” You have to go in focused because sometimes the biggest mistake you can make is being frightened to make one.

Much depends on the outcome on Saturday, but regardless of the outcome, the newly discovered affection between the players and the fans is likely to endure because supporters are aware of the advancements Arsenal has made recently under Arteta.

In the long run, according to Keown, the Gunners will unquestionably benefit greatly from this.

“The quality and caliber of the Arsenal players are improving, and the energy and spirit of the crowd is quite significant.” There is a feeling and energy about Arsenal that has not been there for a long time, so it is about keeping that and rebuilding it as they have been away on international duty and going after a very good Tottenham team who have been flawless. We had that in abundance at Highbury, it was a nightmare for the opposition, and we would win the game as quickly as possible.

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