Unai Emery admits that his friend Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham are currently better than his own Arsenal side ahead of Sunday’s derby.
After replacing Arsene Wenger in the summer, Emery has started his tenure as Gunners‘ head coach with some positive performances and is enjoying an 18-match unbeaten streak heading into his first taste of derby-day in England.
The 47-year-old came up against Spurs boss Pochettino during their time managing in Spain, with Emery recommending the then-Espanyol coach as his replacement when he left Valencia.
Pochettino instead ended up coming to England, firstly with Southampton and now at Tottenham, and has earned a reputation as one of the best coaches in the Premier League.
His side ran roughshod over Chelsea in securing a 3-1 victory at Wembley last weekend and will be keen to dish out defeat to Emery in his first north London derby.
While Spurs are drawing the plaudits, Emery’s Arsenal will leapfrog their neighbours in the table if they win at the Emirates Stadium as the Spaniard prepares to encounter yet another local rivalry at close quarters.
“The Seville derby is very, very passionate,” the former Sevilla coach said.
“I lived different derbies like Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao, like CSKA Moscow v Spartak, PSG v Olympique Marseille.
“Sevilla v Betis is with the passion because they are two teams with very big and passionate supporters and here in England I think I am going to live Sunday the first derby and think it is similar with the passion.
“Sometimes in the history, Sevilla is better and sometimes Betis are better. I think here it is the same.
“At the moment, Tottenham is better than us in the table and better than us last year but in history Arsenal is better at other moments that Tottenham.
“I think we are going to live with two (sets of) supporters and I think it will be a very good atmosphere.
“The first match is in our stadium and with our supporters and we want on Sunday to give them the best performance and can give them our energy and our things on the pitch to help them push us.”
Speaking in the build-up to Sunday’s derby, Pochettino said he and Emery are “very good friends”.
They will finally meet again after Emery’s roundabout journey to Premier League management – and he has been impressed by what he has seen from Pochettino to date.
“His career is very, very consistent,” Emery added. “His structure in every team is very clear and also with good performances, usually he was working in Spain then at Southampton and also at Tottenham with young players and usually every young player improve with him or with his staff.
“I think he is deserving in his career like the best, with the likes of (Pep) Guardiola and (Diego) Simeone, he is a very big coach.”
Get the latest personalised Arsenal products on our new TEAMtalk Gunners shop!