I don’t look down the table: Jose Mourinho only focused on Tottenham improving

Jonathan Veal
·4-min read

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is not concerned with the north London power battle with Arsenal and is only looking up in the table.

Spurs head to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday seven points ahead of their rivals and a win would go a long way to ensuring they finish above them in the league for a fifth successive year.

Mourinho is focused only on ensuring his side remain in the battle for the top four and not where the Gunners are in the table.

“I look up, I don’t look down,” he said. “If Arsenal was seven points ahead of us, I would look to them.

“But because we have seven points more than them, I don’t look down.

“But at the same time, we look always to the next match. And if instead of Arsenal it was Villa or Newcastle, the next matches we’re going to play, exactly the same feeling.

“We feel we’re better than the position we have in the table and we want to improve our position so we need points for that.

“It doesn’t matter the opponent, doesn’t matter if it is a London derby – in fact it’s the fourth 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.”

Jose Mourinho has won both of his two north London derbies in charge of Tottenham
Jose Mourinho has won both of his two north London derbies in charge of Tottenham (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Mourinho has a long history with Arsenal, having had a long rivalry with their former boss Arsene Wenger, while a new chapter has emerged since his arrival at Spurs in 2019.

He has won both of his north London derbies as Tottenham boss so far, both at home, but respects the Gunners and what they are trying to achieve.

“I want to be respectful, I don’t want to go in that direction,” he said. “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. 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.”

Spurs should have Harry Kane fit for the trip down the Seven Sisters Road after he picked up a knock in Thursday’s Europa League win over Dinamo Zagreb.

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It was Kane’s two goals that earned the 2-0 victory, taking his tally to 26 for the season in a standout campaign that also includes 16 assists.

Mourinho has previously said he is one of the best strikers in the world and has now praised his mentality.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with players with great ambitions, it’s not possible to have a career like mine without players with ambition,” he said.

“He has that, no doubt he has that. No doubt that of course he wants to win matches, score goals, win trophies.

“Totally committed with the club, totally committed with the national team.

“He’s a very good example of a top professional and a top player. Sometimes top players are not always top professionals, and vice-versa. He’s a top player, he’s a top professional and he’s a great example for everyone.”

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Kane’s game has evolved in recent years as he drops deep, playing both a Number 9 and Number 10 role.

Aged 28, Kane is in his peak years but Mourinho says he has the potential for longevity.

Asked whether he could play for another 10 years, Mourinho said: “You have to ask him. It depends on what he wants to do and I think it’s too early for him to think about that, he just enjoys his football.

“But when a striker is the kind of goalscorer who can only play in that position, it’s more difficult because when they lose that intensity of the younger people then they have nothing.

“But the kind of players [like Harry], I think they get better with time, with experience, with understanding of the game. At this moment you see Harry and [Karim] Benzema, who’s already 33 now, this kind of striker. They’re very intelligent so they can drop back and assist, transform their game.

“Later in their career, instead of being the No.9 target, they become a nine-and-a-half, between a nine and a 10. And they can play football until they want. But 28 is too early to think about that.”