Arsenal Women legend Kelly Smith on Saturday’s North London derby history at the Emirates hopes to end the display of the Women’s Super League hosted by Tottenham Women’s rivals.
The Emirates host their WSL derby north of London this weekend when Lions leaders Arsenal compete in the Champions League against Spurs.
The first derby in North London in WSL history was held at Tottenham Hotspur in November 2019 and was won by a small team of 38,262 in Arsenal’s 2-0 win.
Smith, who has won five FA Cups with Arsenal, is heading to Saturday’s game with his family and is hoping for Arsenal’s victory both on and off the court.
Asked if the Gunners could set a new WSL record this weekend, he said Hāʻalo Lani: “Yeah, it’s good to hold that story and it’s really good for the game.
“I was at that game in 2019 and was a part of that crowd, and just saw a lot of people out there supporting women’s sports.
“We encourage people to go out and buy tickets, and go and support this wonderful event in women’s sports.
“Arsenal players are looking at this game very well and they want to challenge their opponents, and while they are a fan of Arsenal, I think they will.
“It’s like the old competition in men’s sport, but it’s a new kind of competition that we’re trying to make special in the years to come.
“We want to be talked about as a big North London derby. I played a part of those two times and it was a special time.
“For the Arsenal and Spurs players who are playing at the Emirates, a stadium, that’s what the game needs to be, playing these big stadiums with the crowd.
“It’s pulling a lot of games and we hope to get a lot of people there.
“I can’t wait for that. I’m going to be there with my family, cheering them on and hoping Arsenal can make and keep themselves in the title race.”
‘Arsenal can rely on Emirates knowledge’
Saturday’s game is the second game at the Emirates for Arsenal, where Wolfsburg host on Wednesday the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Jonas Eidevall’s side also beat WSL rivals Chelsea at the Emirates in September and Smith believes their good experience on the pitch will give them a better chance over Spurs.
“I know the girls really like the game there,” the 43 -year -old said. “They have a game there against Wolfsburg, so it’s kind of a training break for the game on Saturday.
“It’s a big game on Saturday for both teams – playing at that stadium is going to be a big deal for them.
“It’s about how you deal with your feelings. I think Arsenal probably have a lot of game experience playing there.
“They’ve played there a few times over the last few years so they see the changing rooms, they see a lot of the pitch and the field, and it prepares you well for the season. you play that.
“There are some nerves, because in the past history Arsenal are the best team and are expected to win now.
“I think Arsenal have great players with the knowledge to handle big events and they enjoy playing these games.
“Tottenham don’t have that; they played at their stadium in 2019, but it’s a new season for them, but they’re starting.”
‘Tottenham move closer to Arsenal’
However, Arsenal will not lose to Spurs in the WSL since Tottenham announced the transfer window in May 2019.
But in last November’s game at The Hive, Arsenal needed a Vivianne Miedema stoppage-time equalizer to save a 1-1 draw as Spurs took their first WSL score against the Gunners. after five victories against them.
“This is probably the best Tottenham team I’ve seen in a long time,” Smith said. “I think Tottenham are getting closer to Arsenal.
“It’s a really tough fight. I don’t think Arsenal are going to play this game and think he’s won, they have to have the opportunity to work and play to win the day.
“The last game was a 1-1 draw, so it just shows you how close Spurs are to the top teams.
“I am very pleased with the development of Spurs in the last few seasons with the support they have received from the men’s side.
“I think Rehanne Skinner (the Spurs manager) has done a really good job, really working.
“I think the last few years this competition didn’t feel like much because Tottenham have been in this Lions for a few seasons.
“But they’ve put a lot of money into the program and they’re now getting closer to the top teams, so it’s going to be a great game.”
Who wins: Arsenal or Tottenham?
Following the postponement of Chelsea’s game with Tottenham on Wednesday, Arsenal could go five points ahead of the leaders with a win on Saturday.
Now, a win for Spurs in the fifth round would see them move to a point behind third -placed Manchester United, who sit in the Champions League last season.
So what is Smith’s prediction for the first North London WSL derby to be hosted at the Emirates?
“Both teams have to look to win on Saturday,” he said. “I think it’s going to be tough to start.
“It’s important for Arsenal to keep winning, to keep looking for the title race, but I think if Arsenal have a first goal they will grow in confidence and they will win the game.
“I think Leah Williamson is a big key to them if she is right.
“In the draw before this season, the back was a little bit cut for Arsenal and you can see them working hard and trying to get that equalizer and then they did it again. therefore they know the latter end.
“But I think Arsenal are in the minute, and in their style, it’s just going to end the day.
“I think Arsenal have one or two nil. I don’t think they will agree, even if Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza are the team.
“Hopefully it’s going to be an explosion and all the fans will go after the teams and it’s going to be a time to remember.”
The North London Derby at the Emirates Stadium, between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will be held on Saturday 26 March, at 2.15pm.
To purchase tickets visit: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/arsenal/EDP/Event/Index/2989