By Fred Kaweesi
TODAY’S explosive Barclays Premier league fixture between Tottenham and Arsenal will revive a rivalry that has become unique over the years.
Local pride will once again be put on the line as two of London’s fiercest rivals go toe-to-toe in a fixture whose result will have a significant impact in the race for the Premier League’s third and fourth UEFA Champions League places.
Former Arsenal star Marc Overmars is one player that appreciated the rivalry between the two sides during his three seasons (1997-2000) stint at the club.
In this exclusive interview, Overmars tells Sunday Vision football writer Fred Kaweesi what he misses about such derbies and who will win at White Harte Lane today.
Fred: Hi Marc, it’s nice to talk to you ahead of today’s derby, do you see Arsenal winning this and turning around the fortunes of their season?
Marc: Yah, Arsenal can. They have had a bad patch but there are a number of matches still to play. It will not surprise me if they turned their season around because the qualities are there within the team to achieve that.
They simply need to have their confidence back.
How do such derbies affect players?
There are several derbies in the Barclays Premier League and it’s the reason most players love to join the league because there is plenty of excitement in the derbies that every player would love to be involved in.
As a player, I always looked forward to such games. This is where the best players’ qualities come through.
Regardless of Arsenal’s form, they always find it difficult to win at Tottenham, why?
Because it’s away from home. It (White Harte Lane) is not an easy place to play and the pressure on Sunday will be on Arsenal to try and win this.
What has changed between the Arsenal sides of your era and the current team?
We had a unique group of players that always wanted to win every game. There was also a good mix of English players in the first team. We had about six or seven in the starting team which is a bit different now.
What was your career highlight?
I must say winning the double with Arsenal in my first season at the club (1997-1998). I remember I scored 16 goals that season which was my best overall.
I remember I scored many vital goals for Arsenal. There was one in the 1998 FA Cup Final and another in a 1–0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford where we won the Double.
Who was the most difficult defender you faced in the Barclays Premier League?
It has to be Gary Neville. He was always quick and a fighter. He was such a good defender. I always loved my duels with him.
What does it require to succeed in the Premiership as a player?
Marc: Its 50% talent and 50% mentality. The physical aspect also counts in helping players succeed in the league.
Gareth Bale has been hailed as world class following his recent performances. What makes him so special?
I compare Bale to Thierry Henry. He has speed, power and versatility that troubles defenders. He has such wonderful technique.
You fellow Dutchman Bergkamp is into management, do you have similar plans?
I wasn’t born to be a coach. I was appointed football director at Ajax and I will continue doing that.
Okay, thanks for your time Marc. Enjoy the derby.
It was a pleasure. See you next time!
Marc Overmars was speaking ahead of the North London Derby in the Barclays Premier League. To join in on the conversation, look at the @BarclaysFooty twitter feed and use the #NorthLondonDerby hashtag