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Arsenal star on how the importance of beating Tottenham was drummed into him

Gunners legend Pat Rice taught Mathieu Flamini the significance of the North London Derby.

Mathieu Flamini has revealed that Arsenal legend Pat Rice taught him the massive importance of winning the North London Derby for the Gunners fans.

The French midfielder moved to the Premier League from Marseille for his first spell with the club in 2004, and was surprised by the pace of English football.

But Rice, a much-loved former player and assistant manager at Arsenal, informed him that facing Tottenham Hotspur was an entirely different proposition.

“I had just moved here,” Flamini told Arsenal Player. “I was a young boy and I was already impressed by the speed of the Premier League, but I remember Pat Rice telling me, ‘Wait until you play Spurs, then you will see what a real game is’.

“You feel this one more [than other matches] because everyone started talking about it a week ago. Not just the team and the staff, but the people working around the club and at the training ground - everyone is coming to you, telling you that you’d better get ready.

"It’s a really important game, a heavy game and one that we have to win. A derby is a derby. Playing against Spurs is very simple, you have to give everything and make sure that you win."

Flamini left Arsenal in 2008 for a move to AC Milan, but returned at the beginning of last season to bolster Arsene Wenger's midfield. A player known for his tenacity and energy in the middle of the park, the 30-year-old thrives in big games and is yet to lose against Spurs in his career.

Flamini revealed his secret to beating Arsenal's fiercest rivals.

"It’s the kind of game where you have to commit 100 per cent. If it’s half-hearted it won’t work," he said. "You have to put your life on the pitch for the fans. You have to give everything for them.

"It's important to play our football - to be strong defensively, to have a good balance and to move the ball very quickly. Total commitment is also very important in this game."

After missing the past few games with a dead leg, Flamini returned to training this week and is in contention to start against Tottenham. The Frenchman will no doubt be champing at the bit to get on the pitch and to keep his record of derby wins going.

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