Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is expecting Mikel Arteta to set up his Arsenal team very defensively in Sunday’s north London derby and is expecting a difficult game against his side’s fiercest rivals.
Spurs can return to the top of the Premier League table with victory over Arsenal on Sunday afternoon, while the Gunners are closer to the foot than the summit of the division.
Arteta’s side are 14th going into Sunday’s games and could sink even lower by Monday evening if they lose at Tottenham and other results go against them.
Mourinho cannot see Arsenal coming to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the attack, given the relative fortunes of the two sides, instead expecting the visitors to sit back and try and hit Spurs on the counter-attack.
The Portuguese feels Arteta is a tough unfortunate to be where he is in the table and expects a tricky test in the huge fixture on Sunday.
‘To me they are a very good team that had a big improvement last season,’ Mourinho told Sky Sports.
‘This season if you look at Manchester United versus Arsenal or if you look at Liverpool versus Arsenal – even though they lost – you realise they can beat anyone. They are quite versatile, they can play in different ways.
‘Personally I think they will go back to what they were a few months ago, playing with a back five and being much more defensive because that was the way they beat Manchester City and Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and final. They are going to be a difficult opponent.’
‘I know him well,’ Arteta said of Mourinho. ‘We spent some time together in Barcelona and obviously we’ve played against each other a million times. I admire him, I think what he’s done in the game is incredible, it’s remarkable.
‘He has a unique character and personality. He’s someone that I think in football we have to appreciate and admire. Me, as a young coach, I know what it takes to be sitting where we are and the way he’s done it in different countries takes a lot of guts.
‘He’s brave and then he has an edge to be able to transmit a mentality to everyone to keep winning. That mentality for me is what makes him really special.’