Van Der Vaart reflects on Arsenal - Spurs rivalry

Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael Van der Vaart on the bench

The former Tottenham Hotspur man was a thorn in Arsenal's side for a few years.

Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael van der Vaart during the match

Speaking to the club's official website, former Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Rafael van der Vaart has revealed that the importance of beating North London rivals Arsenal was drilled into him immediately after joining the club six years ago.

The 33-year-old spent two excellent years at Spurs until 2012, netting 24 Premier League goals in total and helping Tottenham reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the 2010-11 campaign.

Rafael van der Vaart celebrates after scoring Tottenham's first goal

Back then, victories over the old enemy Arsenal had been few and far between but Tottenham - then under Harry Redknapp - had beaten the Gunners for the first time since 1999, a few months before the Dutchman joined the club.

It was something of a watershed moment in the local rivalry as the Lilywhites went on to take four points off Arsenal the following season - Van Der Vaart netting three times in those two games, including a penalty at the Emirates in a 3-2 away victory.

Tottenham's Rafael Van der Vaart celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the game

"When I came to Tottenham and the first thing everyone said was ‘we have to win against Arsenal’," he told the club's official website.

"Everyone explained the history and I thought ‘okay, we will see’ but when you play and the you win away, 2-0 down to win 3-2, then the 3-3 at home, it was just meant to be that I scored in these games."

The rivalry is nowhere near as one-sided these days, with both sides sharing the spoils on two occasions last term, but Tottenham have not finished above Arsenal in the Premier League for over 20 years now.

Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael Van der Vaart on the bench

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