Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has started mind games with his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, ahead of the north London derby today.
The Gunners’ boss says Spurs’ title hopes are facing their first real examination in “crunch time”, as he hopes to crank up the pressure on their rivals ahead of the derby.
Wenger’s Arsenal have dominated north London for over the last 20 years as they have always finished ahead of them since he took charge in 1996 and while he will hope for that to continue, Tottenham’s impressive season is threatening to bring that domination to an end.
The Arsenal boss is already facing a fan backlash after his team’s title-race collapse in recent matches — and Tottenham could go top this weekend if they win the lunchtime fixture and leaders Leicester slip up at Watford on Saturday evening.
But Wenger claimed his neighbours have not made as much progress as everyone thinks, pointing out they have only won four more points compared to the same stage of last season and claiming it is more to do with other clubs being inconsistent.
He said: “They (Tottenham) have made progress, yes. Now this is crunch time in the last ten games and we will see. That’s why maybe everybody has a big interest in the game tomorrow.
“We have been remarkably consistent over the years and that is the only explanation (as to why Arsenal have always finished above Spurs during his reign). We want to do that again, and this game is of big importance because of that.
“We have a competitive rivalry but a fair one and that is what you want. In sport you always have rivals and derbies and course we have a rivalry.
“There have always been good games in the last 19-20 years and they always had good teams, Spurs.”