Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is “the most exciting young manager in Europe”, according to Tottenham’s Eric Dier.
Dier’s comments might not go down well with the Spurs faithful, but the England man was careful not to light a fuse ahead of this weekend’s north London derby.
The two clubs meet in the Premier League on Sunday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Spurs top of the table. They lead Arsenal by eight points and will be confident of piling more woe on the Gunners, who are struggling to score goals.
Dier though has jumped to the defence of Arteta and knows the game against their close rivals will be difficult.
“They’re going through a bit of a difficult period but in these games it doesn’t really matter, who is where in the table is irrelevant,” Dier told Sky Sports.
“We know how much of a difficult game it’s going to be, how much the game means for us as players and for the fanbase and the club. The position in the table is irrelevant and I think it’s very early on in the season for both teams.
“It’s going to be a great game either way and one we’re really looking forward to.”
Asked whether Arsenal’s results are likely to improve, Dier replied: “Yeah, of course.
“They’ve got a lot of quality in their team and I think they’ve got a very exciting young manager.
“I think he’s maybe the most – personally, obviously I’m not on the inside! – but from what I see, the most exciting young manager in Europe, for sure.
“I like his way and the way in which he seems to be as a manager so I think they’re in good hands in that sense. We know they have a lot of quality in their squad and we’ll be very aware of that on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Joe Cole believes Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and Spurs boss Jose Mourinho will be telling their players they can win the Premier League title this season.
Lampard and Mourinho played down their side’s hopes of landing the title after the two sides played out a tense 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Mourinho was especially dismissive of Tottenham’s hopes despite their return to the top of the table.
Mourinho will be offering a different message
Yet speaking at a BT Sport event, former Chelsea midfielder Cole believes the comments offered up for public consumption by the two managers will strike a very different tone to what is being muttered in their dressing rooms.
“I’m sure what the managers say to their players behind closed doors is different to what they say to the media,” stated Cole. “Chelsea and Tottenham will be thinking this could be our year, but you have to stay focused as the Premier League can catch you out. Anyone can beat anyone in this league.
“This year is going be the tightest Premier League we have seen in a long time, with teams taking point off each other. Chelsea are taking points off Spurs, Spurs will take points off Liverpool, there are going to be a lot of teams in the mix.
“I think the team that wins the league title will do it with the lowest number of points we have seen in a long time and Chelsea and Spurs are right in the mix this time.”