Arteta full of praise for Mourinho ahead of ‘tough’ North London Derby

Mikel Arteta has praised Tottenham counterpart Jose Mourinho and is expecting a ‘tough’ encounter ahead of this weekend’s north London derby.

Arsenal travel to face their local rivals this weekend in a hugely anticipated derby fixture, with both sides in desperate need of three points to keep alive their hopes of securing continental qualification.

The meeting between the north London rivals will be the first since Arteta and Mourinho took their respective positions at either side of the divide, and the Gunners boss has spoken of his admiration for the Portuguese ahead of Sunday’s clash.

“A derby has a completely different context to what is happening with the current form,” Arteta said at his pre-match press conference. “I have huge respect for Jose, for what he’s trying to do there.

“To go there and get a win, we’re going to have to do everything really, really well.

“I’m expecting a really tough game.”

Tottenham have struggled for consistency since Mourinho’s appointment in November and have won just twice since the Premier League‘s restart, the club currently sitting one point and one place behind Arsenal ahead of a must-not-lose clash.

Arteta believes Mourinho will turn Spurs’ fortunes around and prove to be successful if given time, pointing to the three-time Premier League title winner’s prove track-record when it comes to success.

“They’ve had some ups and downs but overall you can clearly see what he wants to bring to the club. He manages the energy, momentum and establishes a really strong culture at every football club.

“As well he makes sure that he wins. He has won at every single club he has been. The situation, the timing when he arrived is different than starting a new project right from the summer.

“I’m sure he’ll be successful, he’s always been. He always finds the right way to do it. It will take him time but I’m sure he will do it.”

Arteta has been involved in some of English football’s biggest rivalries throughout his career, including both the Manchester and Merseyside derbies, and admits each has a unique feel ahead of another ‘special occasion’ this weekend.

“They are all different,” the Spaniard said. “It depends a lot on whether you win or lose. Obviously we had some really nice ones playing at the Emirates against them and beating them, I have some really, really good memories of that.

“It’s such a special occasion. Rivalry in football when you take it in a positive way brings energy, passion and a city together. It’s such a beautiful thing. We are privileged to have big teams in the city.

“It’s a shame we don’t have the fans with us to enjoy it.”

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