Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has stirred up the animosity with North London rivals Arsenal ahead of Tuesday night’s Carling Cup clash by claiming Spurs are the bigger of the two clubs.
The Dutch midfield maestro netted his first goal for his new club in the 3-1 victory over Wolves on Saturday and has now set his sights on the Gunners.
He knows how much the clash means to both sides after being given the low-down by Arsenal forward Robin van Persie – his international team-mate.
“I know Robin van Persie and he told me when we were together in the national team what a big game it is,” Van der Vaart said.
“But there was no banter over who is the bigger club. Spurs are the bigger club!”
Tottenham hammered their neighbours 5-1 in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final two years ago and went on to lift the trophy at Wembley.
After impressing in his first three games for Spurs, Van der Vaart has admitted that it has been hard adjusting to the pace of the Premier League.
“We are a team who love to play football. Although I have only been in England two weeks, I love it. The speed of the game is much higher than in Madrid. Teams like Wolves are really strong and run all the time. You don’t get a break.”
The Dutchman also heaped praise on manager Harry Redknapp, who he thinks would be a great successor to England manager Fabio Capello in two years’ time.
“Harry is a great man with a great personality. He is different because in Holland, Germany and Spain you have a trainer. He is more like a manager, watching over the whole club.
“I think he could do the England job.”
By Luke Nicholls