Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham’s exhausting week gives Arsenal the upper hand in Sunday’s north London derby.
The clash at the Emirates will be Spurs’ third game in seven days after they recorded consecutive wins over Aston Villa on Monday and then Anderlecht on Thursday in the Europa League.
Both matches went the distance as Harry Kane scored late to end Villa’s second-half comeback before Mousa Dembele sank Anderlecht with a goal three minutes from time.
Arsenal were also in Champions League action on Wednesday as they were hammered 5-1 at Bayern Munich but, returning to London on Thursday morning, Arsene Wenger’s men have enjoyed an extra day’s recovery ahead of this weekend’s crunch meeting.
“I don’t want to put out the idea they have an advantage in the game,” Pochettino said.
“But it is true when you play against Anderlecht in the Europa League, it is very difficult to play Thursday and Sunday.
“Then when you play Monday against a very motivated team like Aston Villa and you need to run and suffer a lot, it is one day less to recover. You are always late to prepare for the game.
“We are a young squad and sometimes we run a lot and sometimes the effort we make is a lot. But I am not complaining.
“It is not an excuse. We are very strong in our mind and the way we showed character on Thursday and Monday showed we are ready to try 100 per cent to win the game.”
Arsenal’s Champions League woes are in stark contrast to their domestic form, which has seen them score 16 goals in five straight victories.
The run has seen the Gunners emerge as strong contenders for the title this season, particularly given Chelsea’s poor start, while the Blues’ troubles may also open up a top-four spot for Tottenham to fill.
Spurs, unbeaten in 10 league games, are currently five points behind Arsenal in the table and Sunday is an opportunity for both sides to lay down a marker.
“The derby is always a different game,” Pochettino said.
“You need to play with your heart and passion. I know what it means to our supporters.
“It’s not important the past, it’s how you take the game and we arrive in very good form.
“We have to be ready and be strong in our mind and try to win the game because we know what the derby means.”
Tottenham have not finished above Arsenal since 1995 and despite making good progress under Pochettino, the Argentinian admits there is still a lot of work to do.
“The end of the season is too far away,” Pochettino said.
“We want to be top of the table but don’t misunderstand me, we need to work a lot, learn a lot and improve a lot.
“It’s impossible to set the limit – why should we? We have a very young squad and we never set a limit.
“We need to be open to improving in every game and at the end of the season, when we have five games to go, I can maybe talk about it.”
Get a huge 20/1 on Tottenham to beat Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday
Have something to tell us about this article?