PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Derby day look at new Arsenal theme park

Robin Van Persie has given us a timely boost by declaring himself fit and being thrust into the squad for the game tonight against the team that dare not speak its name. And another timely boost for followers of the Arsenal is the third edition of the arsenalinsider.com podcast, which you can listen to now.
Once again we’ve spared no money whatsoever in producing the podcast that is the talk of my house (and that of Le Boss, it has to be said) and today’s show previews the north London derby and also brings you exclusive news of an Arsenal theme park as well as a sneak peak at Emmanuel Eboue’s new website. All feedback welcome and we still need a name!
Of course tonight’s game dominates our thoughts and the issues are clear: if we can dance back down the High Road with three points jangling in our pockets then we can keep the heat on both Chelsea and Manchester United and also put a well-deserved dent in their Champions League aspirations.
As mentioned RVP is in the squad and another player no doubt looking forward to a warm welcome is Sol Campbell. Today’s Daily Mail carries quotes from AW on Sol’s return to the pit of hate. ‘That’s the culture of England,’ he said. ‘I got a lot of abuse in England so I’m not surprised. It doesn’t bother you. When you’re a football player or manager, you focus on the game. I don’t hear anything during the game.
‘Pat Jennings played for the two teams but maybe he is more Tottenham than Arsenal. I think the bitterness with Sol came from the fact that he left on a free for Arsenal. He made a choice. At the time we had a winning side. He wanted to play for titles and you cannot stop him. You have a right to go where you want when you’re out of contract. I don’t think they would have sold him to us.
‘When he came here he was highly focused to achieve targets in his life. After, when he had achieved the targets, he was a bit in no-man’s land because he wondered, “Where do I go from here?” It’s simple, he is an Arsenal player now. When he was looking for fitness, he came back here. He considers himself an Arsenal player. That’s how I see it.’
Of RVP’s return, AW tells the Guardian the Dutch striker was at the top of his game back in November when he was crocked playing for Holland. : “He was at his best, yes,” said AW. “That is the biggest frustration about losing him, because he had started to compete as one of the best players in the world and, suddenly, he was out. You would have been talking about Van Persie up alongside [Wayne] Rooney, [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, of that I am sure. He would have been in that company.”It’s been a tough time for Robin over the last five months. When you know how much he loves football, it’s been very tough. But he’s stronger and looking good for the future of his career. I’m happy he’s back and what is most satisfying for me is that, in training, he looks as if he hasn’t been out. It’d be a bit premature to start with him, but if I pick a player it means he is fit and sharp. He’s worked very hard and, physically, he is fit. Nobody knows what difference he might have made, but I’d have loved to have had him for the whole season. That is for sure.”
And AW tells the Mirror that Cesc Fabregas is going nowhere any time soon. He said: “I cannot stop them talking in Spain. But you should see the length of Cesc’s contract. The players who are at the end of their contract can sign where they want. But with the players who are under contract, we decide on their future.
“We are not under any financial pressure to sell. We are well managed and that gives you one luxury in that you can decide about the future of your players. Secondly, we want to be a better team next year than we have been this year and that means we want to keep our best players.
“Some people try to be specialists at making players unhappy. But up until now, all of the players that have left wanted to come back so that means they are not as unhappy as they sometimes look. I believe this team is on the way up and we don’t work for four or five years with young players, stand up for them, let them come through and then, when they are ready to perform, sell them. That would be irresponsible.”
AW admits that tonight’s north London derby will be a huge test. He added: “It’s a big, big game. This season maybe even more so. Mathematically, of course, it’ll have a big impact on the table. You see progressively the tension gets bigger as the game gets closer, as in every big derby. I was not as much aware of it before I came to England but you realise when you come here that it’s always a special game. Our job is not to speculate on any weakness of Tottenham. Maybe the fact it is a derby will get their frustration out.”

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