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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Race for fourth

Arsenal host Tottenham on Saturday in one of the most important north London derbies in recent memory.

With both sides gunning for fourth place in the Premiership, the prize of Champions League football next season is up for grabs.

BBC Sport asks Arsenal legend Ian Wright and Spurs favourites Gary Mabbutt and Ray Clemence how the last Highbury derby will be won.

THE ARSENAL SEMI-FINAL FACTOR

Wright: Personally, I'd rest some of the players and go for the Champions League title instead of desperately trying to finish fourth.

If they beat Spurs they're doing it to try and get into the Champions League next year, but they've got the chance to actually win it now and qualify that way, which is much better.

Mabbutt: I'm hoping Arsenal's run in Europe could actually do Spurs a favour. I would have thought next week's game against Villarreal is possibly more important for them.

Certainly sub-consciously the players and manager will have at least one eye on that tie in Spain. Hopefully Spurs will be able to exploit that.

Clemence: Arsenal have got the Champions League on their mind and that may affect them slightly going into the game. But it is a derby game and carries a lot of importance.

Arsenal cannot depend on winning the Champions League to qualify for next season. They have to try to get that fourth place and beating Tottenham would give them that opportunity.

SPURS' ENGLISH BACKBONE

Wright: I'm quite pleased for Tottenham, I like what they've done with their team this season.

It gives a good message that you can compete in the Premiership with young English players. I take my hat off to Martin Jol for doing that.

Mabbutt: Spurs have done it this season with some excellent youngsters in the side. We already have five players in contention for the England World Cup squad and Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon aren't far off.

This time next year we could have seven or more in there and that English backbone is something to be very proud of.

Clemence: Spurs have been a lot more consistent this year and they are a young team with a lot of potentially great England players. Martin Jol has instilled a lot of confidence into them and that is everything in football.

From an English point of view and myself being involved in the national team, the more English players in Premiership football the better it is for us.

THE VERDICT

Wright: I'll go for an Arsenal win because they're at home, but I'd have to reserve my judgement until I see what side Arsene Wenger is putting out.

Spurs are going really well and you can't put out a weakened team against them and expect not to get beat because they've got players like Robbie Keane who can punish you.

Mabbutt: I'm quite confident we can go there and get at least a point and if we do that we're in the driving seat for fourth place.

Spurs have already exceeded expectations but we mustn't rest on that. It is up for grabs and we have to do everything in our power to try to get fourth.

Clemence: This is the most consistent year Tottenham have had for some time and it is certainly a game they will be confident they can go and get something from.

But both teams are in very good form and this one may well even be more tasty than the usual north London derby.

  • Reporting by Chris Charles, Sam Lyon and Mandeep Sanghera.






  • VOTE RESULTS
    How big a game is Arsenal v Spurs on Saturday?
    DON'T CARE - just another derby, no interest outside north London
    19%
    QUITE BIG - may decide who qualifies for Champions League
    20%
    HUGE - massive implications for both clubs and sets of fans
    61%
    36715 Votes Cast
    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

    Vote now closed


    SEE ALSO
    Legends say derby is biggest ever
    21 Apr 06 |  Premiership


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