Wenger on the North London ‘balance of power’, Kane and support

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Arsene Wenger insists that Arsenal have no reason to fear Sp*rs ahead of the North London derby, despite last season finishing behind their neighbours for the first time in his tenure.

Unsurprisingly, the ‘balance of power’ narrative came to the fore when quizzed by the media at today’s press conference. Here’s what the boss had to say about our local rivals, his message for the Gunners fans and why last season was disappointing, but not that disappointing.


On the derby…

First of all, it’s always the pride involved, the desire to beat your opponent, like all the neighbours in the world, there are always fierce derbies. As well to keep your nerve and focus on the game, have full commitment but as well be lucid enough and calm enough to focus on the game.

It’s one of the fixtures [I look forward to the most], yes. It’s very important for us, we want to win. But basically, as well, in the table we have to make some ground up with the top teams. At home we have been very strong and our home strength will certainly be vital in where we finish at the end of the season.

On whether Arsenal are underdogs this weekend…

No. Not at all. Tottenham is a good side but we have the quality to win this game and that’s what we want to show.

On a plan to combat Harry Kane…

To keep him quiet, yes. We have no fear, we are focused on nullifying their strong points and expressing our strong points.

On Arsenal not being the top dogs in North London…

We’ll see at the end of the season. The real motivation for me is to get to the maximum with the potential we have in the team. The target is not to compare to Tottenham.

His message to the Arsenal fans…

Support the team, stand with us for 90 minutes. That’s what you want from your fans and I’m confident that’s what they will do.

On there being an overreaction to Sp*rs coming above Arsenal given the FA Cup success…

Yes, we won the FA Cup and made 75 points. Our overall achievement was quite positive even if there was s disappointment for us not to finish in the Champions League for the first time in 21 years. I don’t know [if there was an overreaction], it’s difficult for me to assess that, I don’t know.

On the fans uniting behind the team…

In this fixture, maybe it’s less important, because it will be natural for them.

On the concept of a ‘balance of power’…

There’s only one way to answer that question and it’s on the pitch. The conclusion of people will be the comparison of the two performances on Saturday. We have a good opportunity to show we are the strongest, so let’s do it.

On whether the players were particularly disappointed to finish behind Spurs…

It was not because they finished below Tottenham, it was because they finished outside the top four. That was a big disappointment. Let’s be honest, it was the first time in the history of the Premier League that with 75 points you’re not in the top four, you can check that. I still feel it was very harsh on us because it was by one point. Overall, people forget that we have won the FA Cup in a very stylish way playing against Man City in the semi-final and Chelsea in the final. When a team is close to a Double, usually they make it and we finished the season in a strong way. Overall, it was a disappointment to finish outside the top four.

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