English Premiership

Pochettino a huge admirer of Wenger

2017-11-17 10:15
Mauricio Pochettino (Getty Images)

Cape Town - There was a fair amount of mutual respect on show between Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger ahead of Saturday's north London derby.

Arsenal will host Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in the weekend’s first Premier League encounter, and Pochettino, 45, says he looks up to his experienced colleague.

"In football history he's one of the great managers, the same level as (Sir Alex) Ferguson," Pochettino said. "He will always be a special manager.

"To keep motivation more than three years is difficult. Five years, you must be very good, very good if you're 10 years. When you talk about 20 years it's amazing. Everyone who talks about him needs to show respect. Some days you're good, some days not so good. But respect.

"Wenger was an innovator, ahead of everyone, like Ferguson. It's difficult to innovate but you must try to create a project under your ideas and philosophies to take you ahead of other clubs. They were ahead. That's why my respect and admiration is high.

"He is my enemy because he is Arsenal manager but he is my colleague too. What he is doing at Arsenal and as a manager – I would like to be like him one day; 20 years at Tottenham."

Pochettino and his Spurs side are hoping for a rare league title this season and Wenger, 68, said he can only do so "by keeping your nerves and getting the players to focus on what is important".

"It is always difficult to finish a job, as it must be difficult to finish a book," Wenger said. "It is difficult to finish any job.

"At some stages, by fighting a little bit against your inhibitions – the fear that you won't get over the line. Basically, you need to focus on what is important and not focus on the trophy too much."

Regarding the derby, Wenger said that the Gunners "have no fear, we are focused on nullifying their strengths and expressing ours".

"Tottenham are a good side but we have the quality to win the game," Wenger said. "We don't see ourselves as underdogs at all.

"The derby is one of the fixtures that is very important in the season but one that we also want to win to make ground up in the table with the top teams.

"At home we have been strong, and our home strengths will be vital in deciding where we finish at the end of the season.

"I think the question about the balance of power in north London is a question we have to answer and the only way to answer is on the pitch. The comparison will be between the two performances on Saturday and we have a good opportunity to show we are strongest, so let's do it."

Kick off is at 14:30.

 

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