"The whole week when you play Arsenal, everything changes.
“No matter what anyone says, it changes.
“You can feel the difference in training, in players’ minds. It’s one of the games everyone looks forward to, no doubt.”
Aaron joined us in 2005 and played in his first derby on October 29, 2005, a 1-1 draw in the Premier League at the Lane. He’s faced the Gunners 17 times in total, winning three times but losing only six, with eight draws.
He suffered a League Cup semi-final loss in 2007 only to grab the chance to make amends a year later, scoring in that never-to-be-forgotton 5-1 second leg win at the Lane as we went on to win the trophy.
He scored the last-second equaliser in the amaing 4-4 draw at the Emirates in October, 2008, when we came from 4-2 down with the clock ticking into added time.
He missed the first but played in the second of back-to-back 5-2 defeats at the Emirates, then scored as we won 2-1 at the Lane in the Premier League in March, 2013.
We were on the wrong side of three 1-0 defeats last term and now get set to renew acquaintances on Saturday.
“We’ve had great moments, moments when we’ve felt on top of the world but at the same time, we’ve had a couple of defeats where you don’t want to go anywhere for a few days afterwards,” reflected ‘Azza’, who recently passed the 350-appearance milestone for us.
“The 4-4 sticks out. We started well, David Bentley scored a wonder goal and we’re thinking ‘this is our day today’ but then they battered us and went 4-2 up.
“Jermaine Jenas nicked a great goal and when Luka's shot fell to me for the equaliser, I couldn’t believe it and just tapped it in. I remember just running away, the fan running on the pitch and everyone just piling in.
“Sometimes as a player you don’t really realise what is going on until afterwards, the buzz around the game, you watch it again on TV and see how the fans were celebrating.
“Those are the moments that I will remember forever.”
Below: Aaron celebrates with Robbie Keane after scoring in the 5-1 League Cup semi-final, secong leg - January, 2008