LONDON • Fans on either side of the north London divide will deem it to be sacrilege, but Mauricio Pochettino considers Unai Emery "a good friend".
Their "fantastic relationship" dates back to their time in Spain's LaLiga, where the former was Espanyol boss from 2009-12 and the latter in charge of Valencia during that period.
And, despite since becoming manager of Tottenham and Arsenal respectively, Pochettino's "love" for his counterpart has not dimmed, although he admitted it "would be strange" to see Emery in the Gunners' dugout and not the long-serving Arsene Wenger, who departed in the summer after 22 years.
But Pochettino vowed to put their friendship on hold, at least until after the full-time whistle, ahead of tomorrow's derby at the Emirates in the Premier League.
He told Sky Sports: "It will be so different... but when we start the game, we are going to compete.
"He (Emery) is doing a fantastic job there and I wish him all the best here at Arsenal, after our game of course."
The 46-year-old, however, admitted that the home team, who are on an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions, are a different kettle of fish under Emery, who has instilled a sense of tactical discipline that was often missing under Wenger.
NO LOVE LOST
It will be so different... but when we start the game, we are going to compete. I wish him all the best here at Arsenal, after our game of course.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, on his friendship since their LaLiga days with Unai Emery, now with rivals Arsenal.
"Arsenal have always been a very good team and they had one of the greatest managers ever, but now, they have a totally different culture," he said.
The Argentinian also claimed that while form often goes out of the window in the derby as it is a "different game", Spurs were travelling with the aim of securing their first win at Arsenal since 2010.
"We know very well what it means for our fans and we hope to be at the level that we expect," he said, adding that their Champions League 1-0 win over Inter Milan in midweek had given his squad a lift.
"It is important to build that confidence. To trust in the way that we play. This is my fifth season here so I understand completely what it means. In the last few seasons, we have increased the level against the (other) London clubs."
Spurs midfielder Harry Winks concurred, saying: "The form (six consecutive wins in all competitions) we are in right now, it is probably the perfect time to go there.
"Of course they are beatable (away), but it is going to be another difficult game so we have to be physically prepared for it."
Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov also tipped Pochettino's men to carry on their momentum, telling Betfair: "I'm not dismissing Arsenal, but Spurs have a great team now and they don't have anything to worry ahead of the fixture."
However, Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen sought to play down suggestions they were the favourites, saying: "They (Arsenal) have won many games, they're confident. It's going to be a big game."
ARSENAL V TOTTENHAM
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