Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld relishes prospect of first north London derby against Arsenal
Toby Alderweireld is relishing the prospect of his first north London derby – but he says Tottenham’s defence will have to be at its best to keep Arsenal’s attacking stars at bay.
The 26-year-old, who arrived in the summer from Atletico Madrid, was rested when Spurs lost to the Gunners in September’s Capital One Cup tie - and he is looking forward to Sunday’s trip to the Emirates in the Premier League.
“I’ve played a lot of derbies – Ajax against Feyenoord was a big one, Real Madrid against Athletic Madrid is a big one, so I know what I can expect,” he said.
“But it’s something special, especially for the fans, and we can make a statement to say ‘we are here’. We’re going to do our best and try everything to get some points there.
“In the Premier League every game is a test. Manchester City at home was a test, every game you have to prove yourself against top strikers.
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“I think Giroud is in top form, Sanchez is a very good player and there’s Ozil too so they have a lot of class up front and we have to be at our best to beat them.
“We are confident we can do something there. We know they have a very good squad but we are confident in ourselves, in our game, so hopefully we can get some points there.”
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Arsenal suffered a demoralising 5-1 defeat away against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but Alderweireld said: “It can go both ways, they can also say ‘this is a great game to change the thing’. We just have to look at ourselves, our game, our performance - that’s the most important thing.”
Tottenham go into Sunday’s clash on the back of three successive wins in all competitions – two of them coming in the last five days.
The Lilywhites beat Aston Villa 3-1 at White Hart Lane on Monday and then grabbed a 2-1 home win over Anderlecht in the Europa League yesterday (Thursday).
Mauricio Pochettino’s side led 1-0 at the break after Harry Kane’s fifth goal in three games and, although Imoh Ezekiel levelled in the 72nd minute, Mousa Dembele came off the bench and scored from 25 yards with just three minutes left to send Tottenham top of Group J.
“It was very important,” said Alderweireld. “I think in the second half we struggled a little bit, it was difficult, we were a little bit tired from Monday.
“But we worked very hard to keep at least a point, and then it was just a fantastic shot from Mousa that gave us the three points, and it’s important in this week.
“It’s seven days to play three games, it’s incredibly tough and two wins in a row - that makes us very happy.
“I think we’ve made a good step [towards qualification]. The next game is Qarabag away and I think if we win there we’re through so that’s very important, to win our games at home, and that’s what we did.”
Dembele has now scored in his last three games, and his countryman Alderweireld said: “It’s the first time I’ve been so close to him.
“Sometimes I played with him with Belgium but then it’s once a month. Now I can play and train with him every day. I’m very impressed with him and I’m happy he’s playing well, and hopefully he can have a very good season.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs