GREAT derbies tend to have a level of dislike and even some hatred between fans.

Rivalries can build up, granted, like Manchester City and Liverpool, or Manchester United and Arsenal in the late nineties and early noughties.

Antonio Conte could step down if Tottenham are badly beaten


Antonio Conte could step down if Tottenham are badly beatenCredit: Getty
Mikel Arteta has Arsenal playing their best football for a decade


Mikel Arteta has Arsenal playing their best football for a decadeCredit: Getty

That is because it is a big game but it doesn’t have the same awkward, tense feeling leading up to it.

What separates a rivalry from a derby is a genuine fan dislike.

I am biased but Aston Villa v Birmingham is one of the best ones, because of the sheer aggression and nastiness in the stands.

Irrespective of what that game is going to be like, the noise will be high, the anticipation will be high. It is similar to the North London Derby.

It is the only real London derby that has that level of intensity. From the outside there is that intense feeling. I don’t think, for example, Chelsea v Fulham has that.

There is a feeling as a player that if you don’t win, the fans could turn on you for the next six months.

And, as a manager, if you get turned over 4-0 or 5-0 there will be calls for you to be gone by the end of that day.

That’s the reason why I feel there is so much pressure on Tottenham.


They have fallen so far behind Arsenal.

They have flattered to deceive and not only do they need a performance, this is a must-win.

There is so much frustration and disappointment that if they lose badly, where next? I don’t see them recovering for the rest of the season.

The way Antonio Conte has been complaining recently, he may even walk himself after a defeat to rivals and title-chasers Arsenal.

Somebody like Conte is emotional in his behaviour. He already has reasons as to why he is annoyed, with the quality of the squad and the need for investment.

A defeat this weekend puts him on the edge of doing something that Tottenham do not want to see happen.

And that’s the power of derbies. The outcome changes everything.

If Arsenal were to lose, it would be frustrating but they still have the league, Europe and the FA Cup to go after.

They are playing their best stuff for over a decade, maybe more.

Mikel Arteta has been wild on the touchline and I can only see that getting stronger.

He wants his young side’s tempo and desire to match his own.
Conte will be doing the same but for different reasons.

He will see this as a chance to exploit an inexperienced Arsenal by slowing the ball down, getting some early fouls in and not letting them get into their rhythm.

I am positive the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cristian Romero will be trying their best to cause little frictions throughout to wind up certain Arsenal players.

Spurs aren’t even on the same pitch as Arsenal form-wise, so they need to do something to level the scores.

Eddie Nketiah will have to be wary of that. This is arguably the biggest game of his career.

If he misses a chance and Romero gets all over him, I hope he keeps his head.

As for Harry Kane, he is one goal from matching Jimmy Greaves’ Tottenham scoring record.

It would be so fitting to match and even break that record against Arsenal, does he take every chance to shoot instead of laying it off?

This is going to be a proper match and I am hoping there are no red cards. That ruins it.

When they’re up against each other, 11 v 11, it is a very interesting dynamic and makes for a good game. Styles make fights in boxing and this is the same here.

If Spurs lose a man, it will be a nightmare to break them down.

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If Arsenal get a red, Spurs could dominate.

But I just want to see two teams going at it. No holds barred.

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