A preview of this weekends NLD by Andy Paps

North London Derby – Just Another Game?

There are many games the Arsenal fans lift themselves for. Title challenges against Man Utd down the years, the A$hley Cole/Mourinho Chelski rivalry, Man City’s money and the Arsenal second team, Stoke and the Orcs…

But for most Gooners the main rivalry has and always will be against the Spuds from down the road. In my opinion its a rivalry which differs from others. Traditionally games with the rivals are always tight affairs. However, there’s something in the NLD (North London Derby) which has always delivered high scoring, memorable and entertaining games. Both teams have always had the attitude of just coming out and going for it (most of the time to Sperz’ detriment, it definitely suits Arsenal more).


But is it just another league game? You get the same number of points from beating Sperz as you do beating Norwich at home. The answer should be yes. It should be only another game. It should be just another 3 points when you’re challenging for the title (or 4th place in recent times). It should be…but…the fact is…it isn’t. It isn’t just another 3 points. It’s 3 points gained from beating “THEM”.

I share a season ticket at the Emirates, it’s no coincidence that this game always gets first pick ahead of the rest (incidentally, I got first pick this year!). In my early years the games tended to always lean towards an Arsenal victory but in recent times the gap has closed between the teams. It used to be a no win situation for a lot of Arsenal fans. Win and it was “you’re supposed to beat them”, but lose and its double the pain. Recent years and the slow Arsenal decline coinciding with the Spuds improving means they’ve closed the gap slightly. There have been flashes of over eagerness by the fans from ‘the Lane’ the most hilarious being the year of “lasagne-gate” or as recent as a few years back “Mind the Gap” and all that. Brilliant.

The truth is, the gap has closed between the teams and for Arsenal this game is massive for so much more than bragging rights. The team is on a magnificent run but still some fans are unhappy. A win against the Spuds is the exact thing to possibly lift the mood of the Wenger Out brigade. For the other Gooners (the Wenger followers), it’s an important 3pts to keep up the pace with City at the top. The team needs to come out and lift the fans from the off, and the fans in turn will really get behind the team and support rather than the odd moan/groan (it sickens me that there are still Gooners that moan about us).

There are so many treasured moments from these games for me personally…winning the league at the lane is still the greatest game I’ve been to and nothing will ever come close. Henry from the half way lane, Adams at Wembley, 5-4 at the lane, 2-0 down to win 5-2 (all games I was at). If we see a hint of the fight we got from those days then we’ll definitely end up with the result we all want to see on Sunday.

Is the North London Derby just another game? This week, for most Arsenal fans it isn’t. It’s a chance to tell the media and or Wenger doubters that we are serious contenders. Come on Arsenal! Make us Proud. Lets end it with the famous quote from our greatest captain Tony Adams, a man who always fought in these games, never a truer word said…

Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”


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