LONDON — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur is “more than a derby” as the Gunners can prove both their Premier League title credentials and their ability to deal with tough November fixtures.
Arsenal currently sit second in the table after 10 games, behind Manchester City only on goal difference, with undefeated Spurs three points behind — adding significance to a game that is always a fierce affair between the North London rivals.
“This is more than a derby. It’s an important game for us because it’s a big home game and we have an opportunity to show that we have an interesting role to play in this Premier League, and that we can win these kinds of games,” Wenger told a news conference. “We go into a period where we play big games and we want to win the big games.”
While Arsenal have dominated this fixture during Wenger’s 20-year tenure, they have often struggled in November games.
This is the first of three big consecutive November games, with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain coming up next after the international break.
Wenger said the run of games presents an “exciting” challenge.
“We have an opportunity to show that we are ready for a challenge like that and do better than we have done historically. We have a good opportunity on Sunday to show that,” Wenger said.
“We have already started November in a positive way. I’m sure that this team can face the history, and we also have an opportunity to make history and show that we can do better than what we have done before.”
Arsenal are coming off a 3-2 victory over Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Tottenham lost 1-0 at Wembley to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
Spurs could be without Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld for Sunday’s game, while Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are doubts for Arsenal.
Wenger said he did not want to “speculate about any weakness to Tottenham” but acknowledged that squad depth could be a factor in the game.
“I believe we will have an advantage if we are all at our best,” Wenger said. “No matter who plays I have a squad of 25 players who are all top class and I think this game, a game of that stature, is not about 11 — it’s about 25.
“Everybody’s contribution will count on Sunday. [Olivier Giroud] came on against Sunderland and made the difference so that just shows that everybody’s contribution will be absolutely vital.”