Arsenal legend Ian Wright has admitted that Sunday’s north London derby will be a difficult game for his former side, namechecking a number of dangerous Tottenham players who could make the difference at the Emirates.
Speaking to 90min at an event to promote the TAG Heuer Premier League Pressure Test, Wright eulogised about Spurs’ performance in a 3-1 thrashing of Chelsea last weekend, backing Mauricio Pochettino’s side to challenge the Gunners’ long unbeaten run.
“When you look at Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, Dele Alli and Eriksen, Lamela off the bench…you’re looking at a team that just gave Chelsea a real good hiding. People were talking about Chelsea’s frailties but they didn’t notice that Tottenham were intensified, they’ve got four or five players in very good form and when they’re like that they’re going to be a problem for anyone.
“I’m not going to sit here just because it’s the derby and say ‘oh, Arsenal are going to win because I love Arsenal so much.’ The fact is, it’s going to be a difficult game against a Tottenham side that have got a fantastic away record and players coming into form at the right time.”
Wright played at a time when England had a host of top class strikers, himself and Alan Shearer among them, and was at a loss to explain the lack of depth up front available to Gareth Southgate beyond Harry Kane.
“I think we were very fortunate,” he admitted. “We went through a phase when we had untold goalkeepers, then with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry we had untold defenders. At the moment, there’s a bit of a dearth of strikers and I think it’ll come back round at some stage.
“Callum Wilson made his debut, scored a goal, you’re hoping he can kick on. You see Marcus Rashford, when he came on the scene he was a centre forward and now they’ve converted him to a left sided striker. Jamie Vardy’s retired, I think we’re just unfortunate in that at the moment we don’t seem to be able to produce English strikers who are scoring frequently in the Premier League.
“It’s Harry Kane, Callum Wilson…Glenn Murray – we laugh, but he’s getting the job done. You can’t put your finger on it, but if they’re just not there and not performing at that level then there’s not much you can do other than pray to god that Harry Kane continues to score! Then you’ve got Callum Wilson, who I thought took his chance brilliantly against, let’s face it, quite a weak USA side. I think that we’ve got to thank out lucky stars that Harry Kane is going what he’s doing.”
Wright released a lengthy and emotional Players’ Tribune piece this week, which touched on his experiences of the north London derby, and called the response to the piece ‘lovely’.
Speaking about his relationship with David Rocastle, he said: “He bigged me up, told me not to pay attention to critics and spent hours explaining how important the North London Derby was. He was so serious about the derby. We must’ve stayed up until 4, 5 a.m. the day I signed, and half the conversation was about how you do not lose to Spurs.
“When I started to meet the fans and stuff they always said the same thing: ‘Make sure you score against Spurs. You score against Spurs you’ll be a legend instantly, doesn’t matter what you do after that.’ By the time I left Arsenal, I had scored against Spurs four times. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Rocky.”