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Wenger taunts Spurs over Bale exit

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BALE-FRUSTRATEDLONDON, England, August 31 – Arsene Wenger lit the fuse on Sunday’s explosive north London derby as the Arsenal manager warned Tottenham they will struggle to cope when Gareth Bale joins Real Madrid.

Bale is set to move to Madrid before the close of the transfer window on Monday evening despite last-minute hitches taking the deal down to the wire and Wenger is convinced the Wales winger’s departure will prove a major blow to Spurs.

Wenger, whose side pipped Tottenham in the race for the Champions League last season, has bitter experience of losing key players late in the window after being forced to sell Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie in recent years.

The Frenchman believes those star exits proved seriously destabilising to his squad and he expects Tottenham to suffer in similar fashion even though manager Andre Villas-Boas has already spent big in a bid to ensure his team can thrive without Bale.

“Yes, it is very difficult, of course. It has a negative impact when you lose your best players, always, because you are perceived as well by your fans (for) a lack of ambition, by the rest of the squad, they look for strength in their team,” Wenger said.

“We have gone through that process consistently and it demands of course always a mental adjustment, again, to keep your ambition alive. It is very, very difficult.”

Villas-Boas has brought in Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Vlad Chiriches and Erik Lamela, with a move for Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen also in the pipeline.

But Wenger suspects the spending spree may backfire because it will take time for Tottenham’s new players to adapt to the Premier League.

“I know all the players they have bought. For the rest, we will see how well they integrate and how well they will do,” Wenger said.

“In our job, there is always a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a little bit the stability of your squad.

“It is always difficult when you bring so many players in.”

Villas-Boas has so far coped admirably despite the distraction of Bale’s impending departure and Tottenham have taken maximum points from their first two league matches.

The former Chelsea manager has taken encouragement from the way his players have blocked out all the talk about Bale and he is certain they can continue their 100 percent start on Sunday.

“We have the quality to go there and win,” he said. “I think we will set up to try to win the game and hopefully achieve the result we want.

“It is a different type of proposition on Sunday but it has special ingredients of a game that is unique in English football and full of emotion.

“The advantage Arsenal have is that they know each other very, very well. We have lots of new faces and still have to build our own style of play.”

While Villas-Boas has been planning for life without Bale, Wenger has managed to steady the ship at Arsenal after the 3-1 opening day loss to Aston Villa.

The poisonous reaction from Arsenal fans to that defeat made life difficult for Wenger, but three successive victories have given him much needed breathing space amid continued criticism of his failure to land a major signing since last season.

“I can understand that it is very interesting for people to read the newspapers and see who goes in and out, but there is only one thing that matters if you really love football and that is what happens on the pitch,” said Wenger, who could give a second debut to Mathieu Flamini following the French midfielder’s return to Arsenal on a free transfer.

“We will not panic buy, that is for sure. You can believe me.

“I think that is the most important – what happens on the pitch. We have a way to play, good players and let’s focus on that.”

Five Arsenal vs Tottenham classics

ARSENAL 2 TOTTENHAM 3, November 2010

Tottenham completed one of the most amazing comebacks in north London derby history to end their 17-year wait for a win at Arsenal.

The title-chasing Gunners romped to a 2-0 half-time lead with goals from Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh. Spurs, though, were back in the match when Gareth Bale scored following the restart, with Rafael van der Vaart levelling from the penalty spot after handball by Cesc Fabregas.

Harry Redknapp’s side were not done yet as Younes Kaboul headed home a dramatic winner five minutes from time.

ARSENAL 4 TOTTENHAM 4, October 2008

Spurs sat bottom of the table following their worst ever start to a season, but new manager Harry Redknapp had no reason to fear relegation after his players showed their character with an astonishing fightback.

David Bentley set the tone for the game by scoring an astonishing 40-yard volley to open the scoring for Spurs before Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas put the hosts ahead.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie struck either side of a Darren Bent reply to leave Arsenal 4-2 ahead with just a minute to go.

Yet Jermaine Jenas capitalised on a Gael Clichy slip to give Spurs hope before Aaron Lennon pounced on a rebound in stoppage-time to snatch an incredible draw.

TOTTENHAM 4 ARSENAL 5, November 2004

It took until 37 minutes for Noureddine Naybet to fire Tottenham ahead but after that eight goals flew in over the space of 51 minutes at White Hart Lane.

Arsenal stormed ahead through Thierry Henry, a Lauren penalty and Patrick Vieira, before Jermain Defoe responded with a candidate for goal of the season with a rasping strike.

Fredrik Ljungberg and Robert Pires restored the two goal advantage either side of a Ledley King header, before Frederic Kanoute pounced two minutes from time to set up a tense finish.

TOTTENHAM 3 ARSENAL 1, April 1991

The first FA Cup semi-final to be played at Wembley turned out to be a classic as Paul Gascoigne crashed in a brilliant 30-yard free-kick to put Spurs ahead inside five minutes.

Before Arsenal could recover, Gary Lineker had made it 2-0. Although Alan Smith pulled a goal back, a second for Lineker after a fine solo run put paid to the Gunners’ hopes of the double as Spurs went on to lift the cup themselves with victory against Nottingham Forest.

TOTTENHAM 0 ARSENAL 5, December 1978

Having been relegated just over a year before, Tottenham were in their first season back in the top flight but came up against a Gunners side who were in no mood to throw a welcome home party for them.

In fact they gate-crashed White Hart Lane, recording the biggest post-war away win in the fixture, giving Gunners fans a perfect gift just two days before Christmas.

The game is notable for one of the north London derby’s great goals where Liam Brady hit a stunning left foot curler with the outside of his boot.

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