Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho dismissed arch rivals Arsenal as a threat ahead of Sunday’s Premier League north London derby, saying he only looked up the table and not at clubs below them.
Spurs are seventh in the standings with 45 points, seven points ahead of 10th-placed Arsenal, who they beat 2-0 in the reverse fixture in December when Mourinho’s side were top of the league.
Spurs have since lost ground in the title race and though they have not won at Arsenal in the league since November 2010, Mourinho said he was treating the derby, usually a fiery affair, like any other game.
“I look up, I don’t look down. If Arsenal were seven points ahead of us, I would look to them. But because we have seven points more than them, I don’t look down,” Mourinho told reporters.
“At the same time though, we look always to the next match and if instead of Arsenal it was (Aston) Villa or Newcastle, the next matches we’re going to play, exactly the same feeling.
“It doesn’t matter (who) the opponent (is), doesn’t matter if it’s a London derby. In fact it’s the third in a row in the Premier League. It’s a Premier League match, three points are there to fight for and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
After playing catch up for years, Spurs have managed to finish above Arsenal in the last four seasons but Mourinho refused to acknowledge there had been a power shift in north London.
“I don’t want to go in that direction. I’m very proud to be at Tottenham, I have the feeling every day that I work at a big club, but in spite of the rivalry between us and Arsenal I want to be respectful,” he added.
“Arsenal is a big club with a big history, a little bit like us they’re trying to build a better future. I have total respect for them.”