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Wenger points to Spurs star exits as reason for AVB style makeover

Former Tottenham stars Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric. Photo credit: Dave Howarth/PA wire Former Tottenham stars Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric. Photo credit: Dave Howarth/PA wire

Friday, November 16, 2012
1:38 PM

Arsene Wenger believes that Spurs have replaced flair with power but doesn’t put that solely down manager Andre Villas-Boas.

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The two rivals do battle at the Emirates tomorrow on what will be the 125th anniversary of the north London derby.

Both side one on their home fixture last term but the Arsenal boss expects to face a very different side to the one that Harry Redknapp presented back in February when the Gunners ran out 5-2 winners.

The new man in charge at White Hart Lane has drawn criticism for being too cautious but Wenger isn’t convinced it’s all of the Portuguese’s making.

“I don’t think it’s specifically the change of manager that has changed the style, it’s the change of players as well,” the Frenchman said.

“To me, they look like a team that has lost two creative players with [Rafael] Van Der Vaart and [Luka] Modric.

“They are more robust, physically, and stronger in the impact and contacts.

“[They are] still very dangerous on counter attacks and on the flanks with [Gareth] Bale and [Emmanuel] Adebayor.

“They are quick, dangerous and sharp.

“They are quite physical with Sandro and [Tom] Huddlestone.”

Nevertheless, the derby fixture has provided goals galore in recent years with last season’s Emirates high-scoring win for Arsenal coming after a memorable 4-4 draw in 2008 and a 5-1 win for Spurs earlier that year.

“What does it say about the fixture?” Wenger questioned, adding: “Usually it’s a game played at a frenetic pace with two teams that go for it.

“That’s why you always see goals and they are spectacular games.

“They quality of the games has always been very good.”

The Arsenal boss also dismissed the suggestion that the 12.45pm kick-off would dampen down and ferocity.

He said: “No, I don’t think so, 12.45 is a bit of an unusual time but I like to get up in the morning and play football. They earlier the better, that’s all right for me.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.