The tension and pressure are building in north London. Big time.
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On Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur welcome bitter rivals Arsenal to White Hart Lane for the most eagerly anticipated North London Derby in Premier League history. Period.
PST’s Joe Prince-Wright recently spoke to a whole host of figures with deep ties to north London’s fiercest rivalry, including Tottenham legend Ledley King and former Spurs captain Gary Mabbutt, for a feature on NBC SportsWorld. Below are excerpts from King, a product of the Spurs academy who only ever played for one club. To read JPW’s entire piece on Saturday’s NLD, click here.
On the magnitude of this NLD — from NBC’s SportsWorld:
“This is the biggest derby I can remember during my time at Tottenham,” King said. “For the two teams to be so close going into this game at such a late stage of the season, it makes it a huge, huge game. In previous times Arsenal were – especially when I was a lot younger in the first team – a team that were challenging for the league, and we were a team trying to get into Europe, maybe. A mid-table team. We’ve slowly closed the gap each year to a point now where there’s nothing between the two teams.”
“I expect derbies moving forward to have even more depending on the games going into them,” King continued. “That adds a little extra to the game. This will be the biggest. The fans on both sides will generate a massive atmosphere which is going to make a great game.”
On his own fortunes (and misfortunes) against the Gunners:
“It took me a while to actually beat Arsenal,” King laughs. “They were such a strong side, especially for the first half of my career. [Thierry] Henry. [Dennis] Bergkamp. [Robert] Pires. [Patrick] Vieria. It was a difficult task and took a while to get a victory over them but the thing that really sticks out in my mind is when we did beat them and Danny Rose scored that incredible goal. Once we got that feeling of beating them, it was something that happened on a more regular basis. I remember beating them 5-1 in a cup competition. There is nothing better than getting one over your rivals.”