Big Match

Emery eyes 'special' derby win

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed that it is not about bragging rights but hoping to make the lives of the club's supporters special with a win.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed that it is not about bragging rights but hoping to make the lives of the club's supporters special with a win.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss wants to win for supporters in his first taste of north London rivalry with Spurs

LONDON • In a weekend of derbies in the English Premier League, Arsenal manager Unai Emery is relishing the pressure of leading his side in his first north London clash with rivals Tottenham today.

But the Spaniard, who took over from Arsene Wenger in the summer, has revealed that it is not about bragging rights but hoping to make the lives of the club's supporters special with a win.

"Each match for me is very special. The derby is perhaps more special as my responsibility is bigger because of every supporter," he said.

"Also we need three points in the league because we want to be closer to the other teams like Tottenham, and we have this challenge.

"For me, I'm thinking about our supporters and making their lives very special on Sunday with a very big victory for us. We also know that our responsibility is to prepare for the match against a big team with big players."

Tottenham will head to the Emirates Stadium on a six-match winning streak which has carried them to third in the Premier League.

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    Man City 3 Bournemouth 1

    Newcastle 0 West Ham 3

    Southampton v Man United Late kick-of

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Maurico Pochettino's men are also on a high, after salvaging their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League last 16 with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan on Wednesday.

But Arsenal, revitalised by Emery, have been just as impressive over the last three months and sit only three points behind Spurs.

The 183rd clash between the city rivals since 1909 promises to be a fascinating study of two teams who started the season with differing ambitions.

While Tottenham hope to mount a genuine title challenge, Arsenal would be happy with a top-four finish after emerging from the dark final days of Wenger's reign.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 11 league games, but have yet to defeat one of their top-four rivals this season after losing to Manchester City and Chelsea and drawing with Liverpool.

They have lost just one of their last 25 top-flight home matches against Tottenham, but have won only one of the last eight league derbies.

It is also the first time in 23 years that Tottenham will make the short trip down the Seven Sisters Road to face an Arsenal side not managed by Wenger.

Pochettino will be buoyed by the fact that only two of the last nine Arsenal managers (including caretakers) have won their first league game against Tottenham - Don Howe in 1983 and Wenger in 1996.

The Argentinian on Friday called Emery an "unbelievable manager" and the praise was mutual.

"Every coach wants his team to have his personality and I think we can recognise Tottenham from Pochettino's characteristics," said Emery, who added that he meets the Spurs boss sometimes and they maintain a "good relationship".

"His career is improving with each year, and I think now Tottenham are one of the best teams in the Premier League. They're like Manchester City and Chelsea. In the four or five years of working with Pochettino, they improved a lot."

For today, though, their friendship will be put on hold.

"On Sunday the derby, with our supporters and also three points on the table that we need, there is a lot of positive things for our motivation to be very, very high," the Arsenal manager added.

"I am positive usually before playing matches and I think on Sunday our only possibility is to win."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline 'Emery eyes 'special' derby win'. Print Edition | Subscribe