Arsenal in confident mood for Spurs derby showdown, says Aaron Ramsey

• Gunners buoyed by unbeaten run and wins at Sunderland and Ludogorets
• Wales midfielder Ramsey made first start since opening day of the season

Aaron Ramsey has warned Tottenham Hotspur that Arsenal boast all the momentum and confidence going into Sunday’s north London derby, despite their opponents’ unbeaten start to the league campaign.

The Wales international made his first start since the opening weekend of the season in Sofia on Tuesday as Arsenal secured their place in the knockout stage of the Champions League with two matches still to play by defeating Ludogorets Razgrad.

Arsène Wenger’s teamhave lost only once in all competitions since mid-March, a sequence incorporating 25 matches, and would move six points clear of Spurs if they prevail at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

“This team has been together for a while now, with a couple more additions [over the summer],” said Ramsey, who on Wednesday was included in the Wales squad for next week’s World Cup qualifier against Serbia. “We’ve brought in some quality and, while it takes a bit of time sometimes for players to adapt, the new players have settled in really well. and hit the ground running. We know what we’re all about. We’ve been on a good run for a long time: at the back end of last season we finished really strongly, and we’ve carried that on this season.

“The team is full of confidence at the moment, and it was important to keep the momentum going against Ludogorets. We’ve been on a great run lately so, to keep that ticking over, it puts us in a good position going into the derby game. Tottenham have been a tough challenge in the last couple of seasons, they’re unbeaten in the league so far this season, but we know what to expect. It’s up to us to break them down. We’re at home and we’re full of confidence we can come away with a win.”

Arsenal have lost only once in their last eight matches against their bitter rivals, and have not succumbed at home since 2010, with Ramsey pointing to the psychological significance of his side clambering above Spurs at the last in the run-in last season. Tottenham have never finished above a side coached by Wenger.

“Of course it mattered,” said Ramsey when asked about that late burst of form in the spring which, combined with Tottenham hitting the wall, saw Arsenal leapfrog Mauricio Pochettino’s side into second place. “It’s been many years [21] since they finished above us, so we didn’t want that to happen last season. It was important to finish above them and hopefully we can keep that going this season as well. You’d have to ask them if they think we have a mental hold over them, though.”

Ramsey was understandably rusty in Sofia having sat out over two months with hamstring trouble and may find himself back among the substitutes if Theo Walcott has recovered from a tight hamstring to feature in the derby. Arsenal’s other absentees against Ludogorets – Héctor Bellerín, Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal – are also hopeful of featuring, though Ramsey is eager to play a part if required.

“It was great for me to play [against Ludogorets],” he added. “I’ve been out for a couple of months and it was great to be back out there starting again, and to get 70-odd minutes. That will put me in good shape going into the weekend, and hopefully I can stay fit now. Of course I’m fit to start – I’m ready now.”


Dominic Fifield in Sofia

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