LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has stoked the fires before Arsenal visit White Hart Lane today by claiming that their north London rivals' recent wobble is proof they are no better equipped to handle the pressure of the Premier League title run-in.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager cited Arsenal's consecutive defeats by Manchester United and Swansea City in four days this week as evidence Arsene Wenger's side are cracking under the pressure as they seek their first league title since 2004.
Tottenham have a chance to move six points clear of the Gunners, with a better goal difference, and ask fresh questions of leaders Leicester City, who play Watford later today.
Asked whether Arsenal's players would be able to call on recent experience in title run-ins, when they have consistently finished in the top four, Pochettino said: "If they have players that have the advantage (of experience) to win the title, what happened against Manchester United or Swansea last night? We are capable of beating Manchester City away."
If anything, Arsenal's past title run-ins show a history of nosediving under pressure. They had two wins in 13 in all competitions between mid-February and mid-April in 2008; two wins in their final 13 games in 2010-11; and two wins in nine league games between February and April in 2013-14.
Despite criticisms that Arsenal are mentally weak and lacking in leaders, their squad boast players who have won the World Cup, the Club World Cup, the Champions League, and the Copa America.
Seven Gunners, including Mesut Oezil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, have won titles in one of Europe's five major leagues.
In contrast, Spurs have only defender Toby Alderweireld, who was a bit-part player when Atletico Madrid won La Liga two seasons ago. But Pochettino argued having big names is no guarantee of success.
"Football is simple, not too complicated," he said. "You have a lot of examples. Different clubs sometimes sign a player or a manager with a big background or big trophies behind them. Sometimes (they have) success and sometimes not. You never know."
THE TIMES, LONDON