The North London derby is always a spicy game.
A North London derby with long-standing pantomime villain Jose Mourinho in charge of Sp*rs adds a bit of extra spice.
The feuds between Arsene Wenger and the current Tottenham boss were legendary, and even in the build up to this game Mourinho took umbrage at a Facebook post by Arsenal about a win over Sheffield United.
All of which fed into a particular line of questioning in Mikel Arteta’s press conference in which reporters repeatedly asked him questions about the Portuguese in an attempt to stoke the fires ahead of Sunday’s showdown at White Hart Lane.
Amusingly, the Arsenal boss was having absolutely none of it, remaining unfailingly polite and positive about his counterpart. That means that there will be no press conference tittle-tattle, in which comments from the other manager are presented to Mourinho for him to react to, thus causing headlines and controversy.
Here’s how Arteta batted away those questions – they are colour coded to indicate different questioners.
Q: Some would say this is a good time to face Sp*rs because they’ve only won two of their last eleven, but is there ever a good time to face a team managed by Jose Mourinho?
I think a derby has a completely different context to what is happening with current form or anything like that. I have huge respect for Jose and what he is trying to do. We know to go there and get a win we’re going to have to do everything really well and I am expecting a tough game.
Q: What have you made of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham this season?
Well they’ve had some up and downs, but overall you can clearly see what he wants to bring to the club. He manages the energy, the momentum, and establishes a really strong culture at every football club. And as well he makes sure that he wins, and he’s done it at every single club he’s been, you know.
Obviously the situation, the timing when he arrived, is different than starting a new project in the summer, but I’m sure he will be successful. He has always been, he always finds the right way to do. It might take him a bit of time but I’m sure he will do it.
Q: Is he still a world class, great manager for you?
Q: You said you respect Jose and what he’s trying to do. What is he trying do at Sp*rs because they didn’t even have a shot on target against Bournemouth and I was at the game against Everton and that was a very un-Tottenham like performance from years gone by, so I wonder if … do you know what he’s trying to do and if they’re the Sp*rs of old?
Well, he has a very clear way of playing, a very clear way of how he manages games. I think clean sheets are a big thing that he want to do, but don’t forget his teams always score a lot of goals and they are really successful and he’s been able to win titles because of that. I think in a long period they’ve had a lot of injuries so he hasn’t had the chance to be consistent with his team and that’s a big disadvantage that they have. I know that he’s done it and I know people that have worked with him and he always find a way to be successful and I’m sure he’ll do it again.
Q: You talk then about Jose and still being a world class manager, I think everyone will always agree he’s been the master of pre-match mind games in the press conferences and things like that. How do you approach it when other managers talk about you or your players? Is it something you just have to ignore.
To be fair I don’t read and see it a lot, but I think the success that Jose has had is not from the press conferences, it’s the way that his teams perform on the pitch and the amount of football games that he has been able to win. That’s an extra that obviously you need to know how to deal with but the main thing wasn’t that when it comes to his success.
Q: You’ve told us several times you speak to Pep on a regular basis. They’re obviously big old rivals. Have you spoken to him specifically about this weekend?