Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says if expectations change at the club they may need to find “another magic guy” to deliver regular Premier League and Champions League titles.
Pochettino is aiming for his fourth consecutive top-four finish to meet the club’s specific aim of Champions League football for their new 62,000 capacity stadium.
Third-placed Spurs host North London rivals Arsenal on Saturday [12:30 GMT] on the back of consecutive Premier League defeats to Burnley and Chelsea.
The Argentine has accepted that challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the title is now “impossible”; while Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea have closed the gap as the competition for a top-four spot increases.
“My doubt is not about my future here,” said Pochettino. “After five years, I really believe we do a fantastic job for the club.
“If now the expectation is that it is not enough to play well, be a contender for top four and be in the Champions League for the third year in a row, if now the obligation is that it is compulsory to win a title because we are doing so well, you need to compare with other teams.
“In that comparison, you can be fair or unfair in your opinion. People judge us and put pressure on us if we have not won a trophy. Is that fair or not fair?
“If we compete with the same tools or different tools? If we [are] at the same level or not?
“Because we are not going to change the way we operate.”
Spurs have been playing at Wembley for the past 18 months while they build their new ground. They have not made a signing during the last two transfer windows and operate on a lower wage budget than their top-six rivals.
“The job that the club is doing is fantastic because with Brexit, with the position of the pound with Europe, I think the cost of building the new stadium [has increased] 30-40 per cent,” Pochettino said.
“Arrive to the new stadium in very good condition – I think that is more than winning a title, more than winning a Carabao Cup.
“We are talking about bigger things than winning a trophy. Of course we’d like to win a trophy.
“We like to feel, to lift some trophy – the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup, the Premier League, the Champions League, of course.
“But the responsibility of the club is massive.
“I cannot change opinions and everyone can judge us in a different way. That’s why I told you that, maybe if Daniel [Levy – Spurs chairman] said to me next season, ‘We need to win a title, we need to win the Champions League and we need to win the Premier League’, then maybe you need to find another magic guy who can do this.”
Tottenham pair Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks are nursing hip injuries and will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s North London derby.
The injured Dele Alli and ill Eric Dier remain unavailable.
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery expects Laurent Koscielny to recover in time from the knee injury he suffered late on against Bournemouth.
Stephan Lichtsteiner returns from a back problem, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is available after illness.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
@SteveBowercomm: When North London meets it doesn’t matter where the two clubs are in the table or in their season, it simply matters.
However, just to further stoke the fire, the sub-plot to this one is that an Arsenal win and derby double this season would remarkably take them within a point of Spurs – an unthinkable scenario only weeks ago.
Mauricio Pochettino has never lost a home derby to the Gunners; he will hope this is the perfect fixture to generate a positive reaction and avoid three straight league defeats for the first time in almost six and a half years.
Arsenal’s five wins in their last six has kept them in the hunt for Champions League football. Unai Emery’s first derby experience was a positive one; if he can witness a repeat performance, the end-of-season script could have further possibilities.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino responds to those questioning his side: “I think the feeling is a little bit weird. It should be that everyone before the start of the season [would] sign to be in the position that we’re in today.
“I think we’re living in different realities because, with all the circumstances, Tottenham deserve big praise to be in the position that we’re in at this moment of the season.
“Of course we’re disappointed in the last two results but we need to keep going and trust in our team.”
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery: “There were 10 points difference between us and Spurs two weeks ago. Now it’s four points. It is a big motivation.
“This is a big opportunity for us to play with confidence in our moment, respecting them because they lost two matches but they are still having a very good season.”
The Gunners come in to this game on the back of a couple of convincing home wins over Southampton and Bournemouth, but they are always pretty strong at Emirates Stadium anyway.
On the road, it is a different story and, taking that and Spurs’ form into consideration, I think a draw is the most likely outcome.
- Spurs are vying to register three consecutive top-flight home wins against Arsenal for the first time since 1961.
- Arsenal’s only away league victory in this fixture in the past 10 attempts came in March 2014, courtesy of Tomas Rosicky’s early goal (D3, L6).
- They have met 197 times in all competitions, with Arsenal leading by 82 wins to Tottenham’s 64.
- Spurs are in danger of losing three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since November 2012 – when the third defeat came against Arsenal.
- They have gone a Premier League record 32 consecutive fixtures without a draw since April. It’s the longest top-flight run since Portsmouth’s 38-game streak in 1928-29.
- Tottenham have lost five of their seven league matches against other established top-six teams this season.
- Mauricio Pochettino has never lost a Premier League home game against Arsenal, winning three and drawing two.
- Harry Kane has scored eight goals in eight Premier League meetings between Spurs and Arsenal, a joint-record in the division along with Emmanuel Adebayor.
- Son Heung-min has scored in each of Tottenham’s last four home matches in all competitions.
- Pochettino and Toby Alderweireld both celebrate their birthday on the day of this game.
- The Gunners have won five of their past six league games, as many as they managed in their previous 13.
- They earned a first league away victory in seven attempts at the expense of Huddersfield in their most recent game on the road.
- Arsenal are winless in 21 Premier League away fixtures against other established top six teams since beating Manchester City 2-0 in January 2015 (D7, L14).
- They are the only club not to have kept a Premier League away clean sheet in 2018-19.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored an unrivalled six league goals in London derbies this season.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored four goals and provided three assists in his last four league appearances.