Lee Dixon thinks the intensity of the North London derby has died down, and Arsenal don’t have enough desire to win the fixture anymore.
The Gunners face Tottenham in the early kick off on Saturday, and Wenger’s side go into the game having not beaten Spurs in over two years. Dixon thinks that’s because they’re lacking the drive to do so.
“Do they still have them up against the wall? I don’t think that happens any more,” he said to the Mirror. “The intensity of the fixture has died away in the dressing room a little bit. It’s important that someone rekindles that.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, there’s been teams in the past, which have had players who had more desire to win a game. No doubt about that. I think pretty much Arsene would say the same. I don’t care what he says publicly. That is obvious.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult for everybody, because the modern player is a little bit softer than the player in the past, because hunger and desire go hand-in-hand.
“Will the Tottenham players on Saturday have the same intensity of the Tottenham players that we played against? It’s just the way the game has gone. The Tottenham-Arsenal rivalry is different.”
There weren’t many in the Arsenal side last season who really seemed driven to get at Tottenham and make them feel uncomfortable, in my opinion. That’s a big part of a derby match, for me. If you show fight, you get the crowd on side, and maybe you get the referee to starting doubting his decisions, and the Tottenham players doing the same.
Other teams do it against the Gunners all the time. The Stoke players and fans are constantly whining whenever Arsenal get a free-kick, and goad the players at every opportunity. If they didn’t do so, I don’t believe Arsenal would’ve dropped so many points there over the years.
So maybe Lee is right that Arsenal need somebody in the team willing to fight their corner. Jack Wilshere has never been one to shy away from a confrontation with a Tottenham player, even when he was at Bournemouth, so perhaps starting him could be good.
But if Wenger’s side are going to take all three points on Saturday, they’ll all have to be up for it.