Tottenham Hotspur V Arsenal at White Hart Lane: LIVE

By 05 March 2016 09:17
Tottenham Hotspur V Arsenal - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino salutes 'special' Arsene 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.

Meanwhile, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech will be sidelined for three to four weeks in another huge blow to their title hopes.

The Czech Republic international suffered a calf injury as he raced back towards his own penalty area after coming up for a corner in the last minute of his side's 2-1 home defeat to Swansea on Wednesday, a result which leaves the Gunners six points behind leaders Leicester.

Wenger confirmed the prognosis at his press conference on Friday morning, saying: "(He will be out for) three to four weeks," the Frenchman said.

"It is not more serious. It is a serious calf injury and he had a groin alert on the first goal and he could not kick the ball properly out because of his groin and maybe compensated a little too much and provoked another muscular injury."

Wenger went on to explain that Cech had a groin issue before the game but trusted him to play only to see his first-choice goalkeeper pick up a different injury.

The same happened with Alexis Sanchez earlier in the season when Wenger played him against Norwich despite knowing of a hamstring problem which then flared up in the game and ruled him out for the festive period.

"We had to make the decision before the game because he had a little groin problem but he declared himself 100 per cent fit," he said.

"Then you have to trust the player. He's 33 years old and he knows his body. If he says he's fit then he is available.

"It is like it is. I focus on the future. You want the players to be tough enough to sometimes be able to play through a little pain. You're never completely perfect before a game in March."

David Ospina will deputise for Cech at Spurs and in the coming weeks - with an FA Cup replay at Hull and a Champions League tie in Barcelona to come as well as league games against Everton and Watford.

Source: PAR

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