04 Mar Spurs boss hails ‘special’ Wenger
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino believes Arsene Wenger is a “special” manager to have lasted so many years at Arsenal.
Wenger has come under fresh scrutiny this week after consecutive defeats to Manchester United and Swansea left the Gunners six points adrift in the title race.
Arsenal are also three points behind Spurs in the table but can scrub the gap with a victory over their fiercest rivals at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The meeting will be the Wenger’s 48th North London derby in his 20th season at Arsenal and Pochettino believes the Frenchman has earned his longevity.
“It is about the special capacity that Alex Ferguson had and now Arsene Wenger,” Pochettino said.
“I don’t know if the capacities of the managers (has changed) or because football has changed, it’s difficult to say.
“Maybe they are special people. Maybe Fergsuon and Wenger are special people who are capable of keeping their job for so long. Maybe we aren’t too special.
“It’s like Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi. It’s difficult for some players to appear every season like them no?
“Maybe when we think of special people like Ferguson or Wenger, maybe it’s not the clubs who are special, maybe the managers are special to keep their jobs.”
Tottenham are eager to bounce back themselves after they slipped to their fourth league defeat of the campaign at West Ham on Wednesday.
Pochettino’s men are yet to lose two consecutive matches this season, having drawn one and won five of their six previous games following defeats in all competitions.
“We hope for the same, the same response,” Pochettino said.
“The players are okay. They are sad and disappointed for the last result but they know the competition doesn’t stop.
“We need to be ready to compete again. We expect another tough game against Arsenal and we need full energy to win the game.”
Nabil Bentaleb is unlikely to feature after he played 63 minutes for Tottenham’s under-21s against Reading on Thursday night.
Bentaleb, who was a regular starter under Pochettino last season but has started only twice in the league this term, requested to play for the youth team after being left out of the squad against West Ham in midweek.
Mousa Dembele has an outside chance of a return against the Gunners as he nears recovery from a groin strain and Dele Alli is expected to shake off an ankle problem. Clinton Njie and Jan Vertonghen are both out with knee injuries.