Mad for it

Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen is chomping at the bit ahead of the Barclays Premier League London derby between West Ham United and Arsenal on Saturday.

Fans of both clubs enjoy the rivalry between the two clubs, and the former West Ham midfielder is no different.

Allen has special memories of playing against the north Londoners.

"I used to love playing the Arsenal. My Dad always told me about the history of the club. Highbury was a special stadium - I remember the heated marble floors and the stewards were very welcoming. It's what I call a proper football club."

The Hammers faithful have seen some notable goals against Arsenal, one of the more remarkable being Allen's strike at Highbury in 1994.

"It was a real memorable moment - the 30-yarder," recalled Allen. "Right behind that goal - and I knew where they were - were my dad Dennis, son George and uncle Charlie. I ran straight to them. To score at the Clock End was just incredible. It was a magical moment in my life."

Another magical moment occurred 14 years earlier in May 1980, when a 14-year-old Martin travelled to Wembley to watch cousin Paul play for West Ham against Arsenal in the FA Cup final.

"Dad sat with Paul's dad and I had a ticket with my Mum. As Paul went past Willie Young everyone stood to see him score. When Young brought him down I swore in front of my Mum for the first time. As soon as I said it I sat straight back down. My Mum looked down at me and said, 'Don't worry, he is one!'"

Allen has great respect for former Arsenal and West Ham favourite Ian Wright, who scored more than 150 goals for the Gunners during a glittering career before moving the Boleyn Ground.

"Ian Wright was a lovely man off the pitch but on the pitch he was horrible! We used to give each other stick and he would ridicule me - he was such a good player and I was just a dog!"

Despite the lack of trophies at the Emirates recently, Allen firmly believes it isn't the end of the road for Saturday's opponents' title tilt.

"I do see them as contenders, as Arsene Wenger has a great squad. To stay around the top of the league and in the Champions League, bringing through quality players and to not be in any debt is quite remarkable."