Former Arsenal midfielder David Hillier has spoken about the importance of the north London derby ahead of Wednesday night’s League Cup game.
Arsenal travel to White Hart Lane for the third round tie, and Hillier told the Arsenal Weekly podcast about the passion and impact of a north London derby.
“They started at 14 years old for me, when I was with the schoolboys,” said the midfielder, who played for the first team at Highbury from 1988-1996 after coming through the academy.
“Our manager was Pat Rice and he had been brought up the Arsenal way, knowing what it was like to play against Tottenham.
“They put the right things into you at that age – the pride, the passion, the desire to win whatever game it was. Whether it was a cup game, a league game, it carries the same weight regardless.”
That sort of passion is expected from whichever side Arsène Wenger selects on Wednesday, even if fewer academy players are likely to be involved.
Alex Iwobi is expected to be in the squad and Kieran Gibbs is likely to start, so there are players who know exactly what it means. It is down to them and longer serving players like Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini to really fire the team up.
“I’ve got some really good memories, but the games against Tottenham always brought out the best in everyone, with the passion knowing that they were really big games for us,” Hillier explained.
“It’s exactly the same for Tottenham players who go out there and want to beat Arsenal more than anyone, which is what makes it such a great fixture and one that you look for at the start of the season. Also, quite a few of the players who are at the club now have been there a few years so they have that taste of what it means to the fans.”
The current Arsenal squad has been together a little while and many of the players have a background in English football. They know exactly what it means to us, and there is no excuse not to deliver.