GUNNER GET YOU Arsenal and Tottenham’s fight for North London supremacy is back on.. Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino are cut from the same cloth

Posted Sunday, December 02, 2018 by

Do not expect any Wenger-Jol touchline flare-ups, there is genuine mutual appreciation and affection between these two

THE sarcastic chants of ‘Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay!’ are a distant memory now.

In Unai Emery, Arsenal have a manager whose stickability will be less popular with Tottenham supporters.

GUNNER GET YOU Arsenal and Tottenham’s fight for North London supremacy is back on.. Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino are cut from the same cloth
Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino are cut from the same cloth

On Sunday, the Gunners will head into Sunday’s first Wengerless North London derby in 22 years with a newfound steel and stamina, on the back of an 18-match unbeaten run.

It is now clear to an English audience, as they already recognised in Spain, that Emery and Pochettino are cut from the same cloth.

With an emphasis on team structure, an appreciation of workaholic players and a willingness to make unpopular decisions, Emery has introduced himself at Arsenal in the same vein as Pochettino did at
Spurs four years earlier.

Emery - only a few months older than Pochettino but with greater managerial experience - recommended the Argentine as his successor when he left Valencia back in 2012, a tip which was ignored.

GUNNER GET YOU Arsenal and Tottenham’s fight for North London supremacy is back on.. Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino are cut from the same cloth
Emery is only a few months older than Pochettino but with much more experience

There is a genuine mutual appreciation and affection between the two, which should avoid any Wenger-Martin Jol touchline flare-ups.

Of course, players, managers, directors and supporters of the two north London clubs will tell you that they aren’t obsessed with one another and do not judge themselves against their hated local rivals.

Arsenal types will tell you they have always been the bigger grander, greater club - while those at Spurs are adamant they now have bigger fish to fillet, since finally overhauling the Gunners a couple of years ago.

But don’t believe a word of it. For instance, it’s no coincidence that Tottenham’s alleged new stadium has a capacity of 61,000 - just 1,000 more than the Emirates and an intentional statement in terms of the battle for ‘bigness’.

Of course, Wenger’s much-derided latter years should not be allowed to obscure the fact that, under the Frenchman, they finished above Spurs for 20 consecutive seasons.

Gerry Francis, the previous Spurs boss to achieve north London superiority in 1995, kept the same mullet hairdo ever since in apparent recognition of his historic feat.

Gunners fans would celebrate St Totteringham’s Day, whenever it became mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish above their team, right up until Pochettino had their little ‘holiday’ cancelled in 2016-17.

Poch has always had loftier ambitions that merely surpassing that lot up the road - just as he claims not to value domestic Cup competitions either.

But his achievement in finishing above Arsenal and building a superior squad - with decent understudies for all but Harry Kane - cannot be undervalued.

Arsenal’s wage bill continues to dwarf Tottenham’s and however sharply the balance of power seems to have swung over the past couple of seasons, that fact alone means Emery must wrest back control of these local squabbles before long.

The way Emery has ruffled feathers - benching Mesut Ozil and sanctioning Aaron Ramsey’s departure next summer - is reminiscent of Pochettino’s early days, when Emmanuel Adebayor, Andros Townsend,
Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Nabil Bentaleb went from first-team regulars to outcasts.

Pochettino is still capable of shelving players anyone who is off-message - Kyle Walker received the same treatment before his move to Manchester City.

When Poch arrived he faced a different challenge to that concerning Emery - to establish Spurs in the top four after years of flirting with Champions League status under several managers.

GUNNER GET YOU Arsenal and Tottenham’s fight for North London supremacy is back on.. Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino are cut from the same cloth
The two men go head-to-head on Sunday for their first North London derby

But he achieved it by changing the culture of Tottenham - a club with an age-old emphasis on individual brilliance.

Twelve Footballer of the Year and PFA Player of the Year awards for Spurs since their last league title in 1961 pretty much sums it up.

Under Poch, Spurs continue to employ great flair players - but without a supreme team ethic, none are welcome these days.

Whether or not Emery is right about Ramsey or Ozil is a matter of hot debate - Ozil remains a world-class creative player and Ramsey’s all-round quality is undoubted.

But these early markers have certainly established his authority, and a philosophy which differs starkly with Wenger’s warmth and idealism.

During Wenger’s later years, Arsenal became more ‘Spursy’ than the flaky Spurs of old.

Even before Pochettino’s time, Spurs players fancied themselves in derbies against Arsenal because they felt they were mentally stronger and more united.

That feeling only intensified over the previous four seasons but Spurs players - many of whom have close pals in the Arsenal ranks - know that the times are changing.

Spurs are still the better side, man for man, and they head to the Emirates on the back of their best week of the season - impressively defeating Chelsea and Inter Milan.

But this is a new Arsenal, who have racked up eight wins and three draws in 11 Premier League matches without having led once at half-time.

Not as eye-catching as they often were under Wenger but a more streetwise Arsenal, ready to seize back control of their own neighbourhood before long.

AFTER 14 years and six different clubs, Mark Hughes’s career as a Premier League manager could well be over if Southampton are beaten by Manchester United on Saturday.

Yet not since his first job in club management, at Blackburn Rovers, has he left many fond memories.

His constant paranoid carping about persecution from referees has become tiresome.

Never has a nickname sounded more ironic than ‘Sparky’.

THE Claudio Ranieri Appreciation Society will be out in full force this week as Fulham’s new boss faces both of his two former Premier League clubs, Chelsea and Leicester City, in the space of four days.

Ranieri will be given a warm ovation at Stamford Bridge on Sunday - not just for his own decent four-year spell as boss but for the fact that he denied Tottenham the title when he masterminded the Leicester miracle of 2016.

As for Foxes fans, it will be interesting to see whether the sizeable proportion of them who backed his ruthless sacking decide to be two-faced or unappreciative towards him when they visit Craven Cottage
next Wednesday...

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