Mauricio Pochettino is relishing the chance to face “good friend” Unai Emery in Sunday’s north London derby.
Tottenham boss Pochettino and his Arsenal counterpart were rivals during their time in Spain but it is their first meeting in England, with Emery replacing Arsene Wenger in the Gunners hot-seat in the close season.
The Argentine admits it will be “so different” this time around but will put their friendship to one side when the rivals collide at Emirates Stadium.
He told Sky Sports: “It will be so different. Now we are going to face a good friend in Unai Emery. It will be strange but when we start the game we are going to compete.
“We always had a fantastic relationship when we faced each other in Spain.
“I wish him all the best here at Arsenal, after our game of course!”
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Pochettino’s men have won their last six games in all competitions – including a 1-0 victory over Inter in midweek that keeps their Champions League hopes alive – and go into the derby third in the Premier League, three points and two places above Arsenal.
He added: “We have improved from last season and after 13 games we have more points than last season.
“Arsenal are the same too. They are having an amazing season, like Manchester City or Liverpool.
“But it is only 13 games and there is still a lot to play. We will see what happens. We are coming to a period that is so difficult to manage, between now and Christmas we have a lot of games.”
The first of those matches is arguably different to the rest with local bragging rights at stake and Pochettino is aware of the importance placed on it by the supporters.
“The derby is always a different game and our approach will be different,” he said.
“We know very well what it means for our fans and we hope to be at the level that we expect.
“This is my fifth season here so I understand completely what it means. In the last few seasons we have increased the level against the London clubs.
“But, of course, Arsenal is special and it is important to be ready with the right mentality.
“Arsenal have a great manager now and it will be so tough to play.”
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