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Neville: North London derby is Arsenal's big moment of season


Gary Neville says Arsenal need to be ready for what is their “big moment of the season” when they travel to rivals Tottenham for the north London derby on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

Mikel Arteta’s side currently lead the way in the Premier League, sitting one point ahead of defending champions Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and three points in front of third-placed Liverpool.

The Gunners swept aside London rivals Chelsea with a 5-0 victory in midweek to keep the pressure on City, but their bid to win a first title since 2004 faces a huge test when they make the short trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast, Neville says Arsenal need to be prepared for the hostile atmosphere they are set to face as they bid to avoid any further slip-ups in the Premier League title race.


Sunday 28th April 1:00pm


Kick off 2:00pm


‘So much riding on this north London derby’

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea

“Arsenal were very good against Chelsea,” Neville said. “Excellent, in fact.

“They were outstanding in that first 25 minutes against Aston Villa when we were there a couple of weeks ago. Some of the football, and Martin Odegaard is mesmerising at the moment. He has become the best in that position in terms of the way he plays.

“I was really impressed with Chelsea against Manchester City at the weekend in the FA Cup semi-final. They were really good at Wembley and there was a lot to hang your hat on there and build on. Mauricio Pochettino came out and said, and he couldn’t say it any better, that when they are bad, they are rally bad, but also, Arsenal were really good. They won well and played in a dominant fashion against a poor and understrength Chelsea team, but Mikel Arteta’s side did their job.

“But now, Arsenal’s big moment of the season is this game on Sunday.

“The north London derby is a game I’ve loved over the years. It is probably my favourite game that I have commentated on for Sky in my 11 years doing it. It always seems to give us something and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

“This one has so much riding on it at the weekend.”

Arsenal’s remaining Premier League fixtures…

  • Sunday April 28: Tottenham (A) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Saturday May 4: Bournemouth (H) – kick-off 12.30pm
  • Sunday May 12: Man Utd (A) – kick-off 4.30pm – live on Sky Sports
  • Sunday May 19: Everton (H) – kick-off 4pm

‘Arsenal cannot be shocked at Spurs’

Martin Odegaard
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Neville called Martin Odegaard’s recent performances for Arsenal ‘mesmerising’

Neville believes the Gunners can take a few lessons from Liverpool’s midweek defeat to Everton, which dented Jurgen Klopp’s side’s hopes of ending the season as Premier League champions, as they prepare for a similar occasion to the one the Reds experienced at Goodison Park.

“Arsenal go to that amazing stadium and they have got to go and play,” Neville added.

“I was there a few years ago when there was a battle for the Champions League and Tottenham did Arsenal over. The Gunners didn’t handle it. However, it’s a very different Arsenal going there on Sunday. They are robust and resilient now, but this will be a test, just like Liverpool had at Everton.

“It was just a little bit too much for Liverpool at Goodison Park on the night. For all the experience they have, they just got caught out, surprised, shocked by what they found.

Ben White scored two of Arsenal's five goals at the Emirates
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Ben White scored two of Arsenal’s five goals at the Emirates against Chelsea

“Arsenal cannot be shocked on Sunday,” the former Manchester United defender said.

“It’s going to potentially be like a bloodbath in the first 15 to 20 minutes. The Tottenham fans don’t want Arsenal to win the league. I’ve been in London a lot recently and in the black cabs, if you bump into a Spurs fan, they don’t want Arsenal to win the league.

“Tottenham will want a win, not just for stopping Arsenal, but for pride, winning a north London derby and getting as many points as they can. They are trying to push Aston Villa for that fourth place.

“It’s a huge game and Liverpool’s defeat at Everton is a lesson for Arsenal. It’s not quite the same with Spurs a different side to Everton, but the elements of making sure they are ready, making sure they don’t get caught out, making sure that away from home you respect the opposition and the crowd, and what you could be up against if they get on top of you.

“The principles of playing away from home – Arsenal cannot forget that because they are a better football team and in a better moment.”

Merson can’t see anything but Arsenal victory

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Sky Sports’ James Savundra and Nick Wright react to Arsenal’s 5-0 demolition of Chelsea to send the Gunners three points above Liverpool in the Premier League

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson also highlighted the magnitude of Sunday’s game and believes Tottenham’s gung-ho style under Ange Postecoglou will play into Arsenal’s hands.

“This has to be one of the biggest north London derbies for 20 years,” said former Gunner Merson. “This is a huge football match.

“I expect Arsenal to win this game because Tottenham will play gung-ho football, almost saying you have a shot and then we have a shot. That won’t work against Arsenal – they’ve got better players than Tottenham. They’re a better team, more of a unit and they’ll win the football match.

“Manchester City will have to stay perfect in their remaining games to win the Premier League title. When you look at the three remaining games, Arsenal would be devastated after responding the way they have to the Bayern Munich defeat if they couldn’t get it over the line against Bournemouth, Manchester United and Everton.

“I can’t see anything but an Arsenal win knowing how Tottenham like to play. They just open the game up and say, ‘we’ll see who can score more goals’. That will be so hard to do against Arsenal, who are a far superior football team.”

‘Ange sets Spurs up like they’re Celtic playing St Mirren’

Ange Postecoglou has responded to Eric Dier's comments
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Can Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham spoil the Arsenal party?

While there is obvious pressure on Arsenal heading into the game as they look to get over the line in the title race, Merson says there is also a lot of pressure on Spurs, who are not only desperate to stop their north London rivals but also need the points in their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The former Arsenal forward said: “This game is the season in a nutshell for Tottenham. They’ll will be knighted if they win against Arsenal. But it’s not just that, they also need to get in the top four.

“It’s a game Spurs will have to play as well. There isn’t just pressure on Arsenal, with Spurs fighting in their cup final to stop them winning the league.

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Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway would have loved the 5-0 win over Chelsea. She recently showed her passion for the club during an interview with dcfilmgirl.com while promoting The Idea of You, releasing on Prime Video on 2 May

“Let’s be honest, a draw will be enough to stop Arsenal winning the league most likely, but it won’t be enough in the race for the Champions League. It would probably stop them finishing above Aston Villa. I doubt they will draw though – it’s not the way they play.

“I like the Spurs manager, Ange Postecoglou, I like the way he plays. Sometimes when I watch Spurs, I find that sometimes he thinks he is managing Celtic against St Mirren or Kilmarnock. He opens the game up and approaches it he’s going to Dundee, thinking they will grind them down and by the end of the game have made enough effort to win the game.

“Tottenham are not that dominant and consistent enough through the group. They have some top players that can majorly hurt Arsenal.

“Over the whole game, though, I don’t see how Spurs can consistently hurt Arsenal as much as they hurt them.”

Watch the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, live on Sky Sports from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.

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