Theo Walcott enjoys good banter with Tottenham fans

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Arsenal's Theo Walcott says he and Tottenham fans have put animosity behind them as he prepares to to take them on for the first time since the controversial 2-0 signal sparked outrage.

Walcott gave as good as he got as he was stretchered off during the FA Cup third round tie in January 2014. Arsenal were leading 2-0 at the time and Walcott let Tottenham fans know as stewards carried him around the stadium.

It was later revealed that over a dozen coins were launched from the away end towards Walcott as a result of his actions. However, the Arsenal forward says that he enjoys the banter with the local rivals.

"Me and the Tottenham fans have a good relationship in terms of the banter side of things"

Good banter

"That is in the past," he told the London Evening Standard. "Me and the Tottenham fans have a good relationship in terms of the banter side of things. That's what comes with football. This is a massive game and it is all about the bragging rights.

"Things like that have happened in the past and it won't be forgotten about, I'm sure, but it is one thing I've moved on from. Every player will get stick I am sure but it is about just trying to go out there and perform.

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"Any criticism won't affect me at all. It is enjoyable -- it's a bit different and it is always a great atmosphere at White Hart Lane. It is probably the fixture I always look forward to playing in the most, to be fair. It is one of the biggest games for both sets of fans and this year it is going to be tight."

The injury that took Walcott out of the game turned out to be serious knee ligament damage that would keep him out for almost a year. But he has now scored on successive weekends for the Gunners and is tipped to start today.

For Walcott, who is set to open talks over an extension to his £100,000-a-week contract, today's north London derby could be crucial.

The main threats

"I think it is an even bigger game this year than ever," said Walcott. "Tottenham are doing very well, getting those last-minute goals which shows a knack of getting important three points. It will be two very strong teams that are very high on confidence so for the neutral it will be a very interesting game.

"It is going to be difficult to call but if we play the way we did against Villa, hopefully, it will be ours. A draw wouldn't be a terrible result but we always play to win.

"They have been very comfortable on the ball, passing it well and pressing it high up. [Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino] likes his sides to be right on you from the start and they are difficult to break down. They have got a fantastic goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, who is very sharp off his line. He is making some fantastic saves.

"And, of course, they have [Christian] Eriksen, who has been one of the most underrated players in the Premier League this season. He has stood out but we have Santi [Cazorla], who is also in great form and not always getting recognition, either."

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Premier League
Theo Walcott
Tottenham Hotspur

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