King: Spurs can rule north London
Published 31/08/2013 | 13:51
Ledley King has called on Tottenham to prove they are now the masters of north London by beating Arsenal away for just the second time in two decades.
Gareth Bale has been crucial to Tottenham's recent success against Arsenal, scoring three times in the four derby wins he has enjoyed since moving to White Hart Lane six years ago.
But, for the first time in the derby for four years, Bale will not be in Tottenham's starting XI on Sunday because of his impending move to Real Madrid.
Yet with the vast spending spree that has taken place at White Hart Lane this summer, there is optimism within the Tottenham squad, especially as their north London rivals are yet to spend a penny in the market despite vast cash reserves being available to manager Arsene Wenger.
Andre Villas-Boas' team have coped fine without Bale so far, registering four straight wins without conceding, but former captain King knows talk of a shift in the balance of power will be premature unless his old team manage to pull off a win at the Emirates Stadium.
"The players have been brilliant so far this season and the club have brought in top-class signings so this weekend it's a big game, one to show who is the dominant force," King said at the launch of Vodafone 4G.
"We are looking to go there and prove that we are a stronger side."
Throughout his 13-year spell at Tottenham, King did not once feature in a north London derby win away from White Hart Lane as he missed the 2010 victory at Arsenal through injury.
More importantly, the former captain did not see his team finish above the Gunners in the table throughout his time at the club.
Spurs have thrown away significant leads over Arsenal in the last two seasons and they have finished below their rivals every year since 1995.
King thinks that unwanted status could be discarded in the coming years, though.
"It will happen soon," said King, who made 264 league appearances for Spurs. "Many years ago, the gap between the two sides was quite a big one.
"They were a team that was competing at the top of the table and we were a top-10 side so it's great that we have been able to close that gap over the last few years and we are going into each derby neck and neck now so that gives each derby a bit of extra spice."
Although the class of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli cannot be doubted, the fact remains that this will be their first experience of what is often a feisty and venomous derby.
Soldado revealed last week that his team-mates had given him a crash course in the importance of the fixture, however, and King is sure the new quartet will embrace the game.
"I am sure they will love it," King said. "All the new signings have slipped into the team seamlessly and those are all good signs.
"The start we have made this season has been positive.
"We have had two good performances in the league, two clean sheets and a striker (Soldado) who is finding the back of the net.
"It's going to be a long, hard season. We won't get carried away too early, but at the moment it does look positive, they are looking to bring in new players so I am sure it will be a good season."
Villas-Boas' only major fitness doubt ahead of the fixture is winger Aaron Lennon, who has missed the last two games with a foot injury.
Emmanuel Adebayor, who was sent off in last year's corresponding fixture, will not be unleashed against his old club as Tottenham are looking to offload him.