EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal legend Alan Smith on the North London derby and Unai Emery
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Gunners legend Alan Smith has been speaking exclusively with Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif at the London Football Awards, in aid of national charity, Willow ahead of the North London derby on Saturday. Read on for what he said about the eagerly-awaited fixture
Smith, who top scored for the Gunners during the club’s 1989 and 1991 title-winning seasons has been previewing the eagerly-awaited fixture at the national stadium.
After dropping out of the title race, Spurs’ hold on a top-four place suddenly doesn’t look as strong with in-form Arsenal approaching.
Their faint hopes of winning the Premier League are finished after losing to Burnley followed by Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
Arsenal’s form has been mixed since the end of 2018, but they are putting together a good run of form since losing 3-1 to Manchester City in early February.
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The Gunners thrashed Bournemouth 5-1 on Wednesday, after beating Southampton and BATE Borisov – but in this type of encounter form really goes out of the window, which Smith believes may be a small positive for Mauricio Pochettino’s Lillywhites.
Speaking exclusively with Arsenal reporter Layth at the London Football Awards, in aid of national charity, Willow.
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He said: “From Arsenal’s point of view we go into it in a much better frame of mind that we might have with Spurs in not as good form as they have been.
“It is the kind of game that Spurs need to wash away the last two results. They will forget about the losses to Burnley and Chelsea because of the fact they will be facing Arsenal.
“Wembley will be buzzing, the fans will be up for it. But the atmosphere should help Arsenal too. It was a terrific match at the Emirates when Unai Emery’s side beat them 4-2 before Christmas.
“We’d certainly settle for the same result again.”
Emery’s Gunners have shown resilience since their dispiriting loss at the hands of City.
With Guardiola’s impressive side gaining ground on long-time leaders Liverpool Spurs hopes of ending their 58 year stretch without calling themselves champions of England is over.
While Pochettino – who is the 13th Lillywhites boss in the Premier League era – has been assembling a talented squad in N17, albeit one that has yet to win silverware in the five years since he was lured to Tottenham, Emery has been quietly transforming Arsenal.
Surveying his time at the helm so far after taking over from Arsene Wenger in May, Smith explained: “It’s a slow burner in terms of following Arsene who was in charge for 22 seasons and his methods.
“Emery’s challenge is to shape the culture in the dressing room to his own way. Slowly but surely he’s getting there, but you can’t do it without players.
“He will want to mould the team in his image and it’s not quite there yet.
“We were all disappointed when there wasn’t any money to spend in January.
“We’ll see in the summer but his issue is to address the defence first and foremost if you are to have any chance of challenging at the top of the table.”
Alan Smith has been speaking at the London Football Awards in aid of national charity, Willow, londonfootballawards.org