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Dele's derby desire

03 March 2016|Tottenham Hotspur

Dele Alli reckons the league position of both clubs only ramps up the importance of the North London derby on Saturday.

It’s second versus third at White Hart Lane as we take on Arsenal at 12.45pm, knowing that victory would see us go level on points with leaders Leicester City – albeit ahead of their trip to Watford later in the day – and double the gap between us and the Gunners to six points.

That’s not to mention the North London bragging rights, with midfielder Dele – a second-half substitute in Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham United – under no illusions about the circumstances surrounding the match.

“It’s a massive game, not just for the fans but for the players and all the staff,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard this season, we’re in a good place at the moment and I couldn’t think of anyone else to go out there and take on.

“It’s probably one of the biggest games in England – the world, even – and for us both to be up there fighting at the top of the table just makes it even bigger and even more special.

“Wednesday’s defeat was hard to take but we’ve got a lot of winners in the changing room. Nobody likes losing and it was a tough one to swallow but I’m sure we’ll bounce back and we’ll look to do that on Saturday.

“There’s going to be a great atmosphere at the ground and the fans will be backing us 100 per cent, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Dele featured as a substitute when we lost at home to the Gunners in the third round of the Capital One Cup back in September and started his first North London derby in the Premier League two months later as we battled out a 1-1 draw at the Emirates.

But while Saturday represents his third encounter with Arsenal in our colours, the former MK Dons teenager is no stranger to the competitive feeling between rival clubs.

“At MK there was a rivalry with AFC Wimbledon because of what happened and the history there, the locals rivals were Northampton, but obviously it’s a different experience in North London,” he said. “It was great to be involved in derby games for MK but, as I said, this is one of the biggest games in the world so we can’t wait to go out there and play our football on Saturday.”