The two north London rivals are fighting tooth and nail to secure a top-four finish. Mikel Arteta's side currently have the upper hand as they sit in fourth place with a four-point lead over fifth-placed Spurs.
However, with the north London derby just around the corner (May 12), the Emirates outfit cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal.
Keown, who played over 323 Premier League matches for the Gunners, remains an ardent supporter of his old club.
When asked to name the Spurs players he would take in Arsenal’s starting XI, the former center-back came up with a bold yet heartwarming answer. Keown snubbed all Tottenham players, including Kane and Son, claiming that he couldn’t hurt his favorite team’s morale so close to the derby.
In a column in the Daily Mail, he wrote:
“It would be easy for me to name Harry Kane, but as an Arsenal man, I don't want to take anything away from my team. This close to the battle, I'm focusing on my club, so there's not a single Tottenham player I'd take.”
“Not Kane. Not Son Heung-Min. Not any of them. I wouldn't want to say anything to hamper the confidence of someone like Eddie Nketiah, who's been a revelation over the last four wins.”
Following the all-important derby on matchday 36, Mikel Arteta’s side will play Newcastle United and Everton in their final two fixtures of the 2021-22 campaign.
Arsenal could secure Champions League football with a win over Tottenham Hotspur
Mikel Arteta’s side were without a win or a goal in their opening three Premier League fixtures this season. Given their poor start to the season, no one expected the Gunners to be where they are today, leading the Premier League top-four race.
Arsenal now have their destiny in their own hands and could also wrap up their season with two games to spare.
As the Gunners have a four-point lead over Spurs, a win on Thursday would take them seven points clear of their local rivals. With only two games remaining, it would be mathematically impossible for Conte’s men to finish ahead of Arsenal.
A draw would see the Gunners maintain their four-point lead but they would then need a win on matchday 37 to seal Champions League football.
A defeat, however, could end up being catastrophic, as that would allow Spurs to move within a point of their rivals with two games to play. In that case, Arteta's side will have to regroup and make sure there aren’t any slip-ups against Newcastle United and Everton.
Two determined teams and one Champions League spot — the stakes have rarely been this high in a north London derby in the English Premier League.