Former Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has tipped his old side to “make a statement” with a win over rivals Tottenham in the North London derby that could underline their title credentials.
The Gunners are top of the Premier League after seven games, claiming six wins so far. With Spurs at home up next, Sagna is excited at the prospect of Arsenal proving themselves as genuine contenders to win the league by triumphing in a big game.
Speaking exclusively to Lord Ping, he said: “It's a great opportunity for [Arsenal] to show the rest of the league how far they have come.
“This is a wonderful test and a beautiful challenge for the Arsenal players and Mikel Arteta.
“I think that they will feel that they are ready for these matches and I am confident that they will play with the personality that we have seen from them so far.
“Is it a big test for them to underline their title credentials? Absolutely. I am really looking forward to seeing how they respond to the challenge.
“This is an opportunity for them to make a statement as a team.”
Sagna does not expect Arsenal to win easily, acknowledging the firepower Spurs possess in the form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, but insists that the Gunners can take charge of proceedings and play their way.
“Listen, make no mistake, this will be a tough game for Arsenal,” Sagna added.
“Tottenham have quality players, dangerous players. Son has come into a bit of form. Kane, we all know what he can do.
“I think it is really up to Arsenal. If Arsenal can play the way that we know they can, keeping the ball, confident football, then they can make a statement.
“They need to have the same approach as they did against Manchester United. They need to impose their game on the opponent.
“I think this is a great opportunity for Arsenal. We all know what happened last season with the defeat at [Tottenham] that proved crucial in the top four race.
“Arsenal were criticised after that defeat but, for me, this is a new team and a new chance to demonstrate that Arsenal can be the best team in London this season.
“I want them to show the rest of the league that this is a team that has grown up. This is a team that is solid. This is a team with a different mentality.
“They must play in the same style as they have done this season. They should be confident that they can beat them.
“Mikel will remind them of the importance of the game. You have to win these matches, not only for yourself but for the pride of the club and for the fans.
“I’m sure the players will be fully committed and happy to play the derby, but always bear in mind that Tottenham are a very good team. They are one of the best teams in the league.”
Sagna advised the Arsenal players to remain as calm as they can during the game and expressed confidence in a Gunners victory.
“Play your own football and keep a cool mind, that is [what I would say to the Arsenal players],” Sagna continued. “That is all they need to do because it will be a heated, passionate game.
“The fans will want the players to show a lot of desire, but the players must keep their emotions in line and show passion and commitment without being overly aggressive.
“They have to be smart. Mikel will tell them this. Win all your duels, earn the right to play your game. Be intelligent.
“[I predict] Arsenal will win. Arsenal [to win] 2-0.”
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