Mikel Arteta says Arsenal need to ‘put rivalry aside’ against Tottenham

Mikel Arteta has urged his players to put their north London rivalry with Tottenham to one side as Arsenal look to stay top of the Premier League with victory at their neighbours.

The Gunners will make the short trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday knowing they will remain at the summit if they leave with the three points.

It would take Arsenal a step closer to a first league crown in two decades, when Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles secured the title at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have since moved into a new home and will have a partisan crowd cheering them on against Arsenal as the hosts aim to keep their own top-four ambitions on track.

Arteta wants to remove the emotion of derby day and focus on the job at hand.

“We played there a few times already and it’s a great place to play football,” he said.

“We have to put the rivalry aside and we have to live the game with passion and the intensity that it demands rather than anything special because the game has everything you need to enjoy it.”

Remarkably, Arsenal have played four matches since Tottenham last kicked a ball – losing to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final but beating Wolves and Chelsea to stay top, even if Manchester City have a game in hand.

However, Arteta does not want to use fixture congestion as an excuse heading into one of the most important north London derbies in recent history.

“We have a bit of time to recover and prepare from the Chelsea game and I’m sure we’re going to be fully ready to go again on Sunday.

“I love the fact that we played four games. We had some great experiences. It’s been a really demanding week.

“We had some great results in the last two. That’s boosted the confidence of everybody. We’re in a good place.”

Despite being top of the table, Opta’s predictions give Arsenal just a 26.6 per cent chance of lifting the Premier League, with City firm favourites following a comfortable win over Brighton on Thursday.

“Maybe we can tweak the computer to make it a bit higher,” Arteta added with a smile.

“Maybe it needs to update the software, we can help it to update the software and give it more tools. Hopefully we can change that.”

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