July 10, 2020 / 4:02 PM / a month ago

Derby will not decide 'big things' says Mourinho

LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho says his first north London derby on Sunday is ‘not a match that will decide big things’ but knows the importance of bragging rights for fans.

Soccer Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - July 9, 2020 Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Neil Hall/Pool via REUTERS

With Tottenham in ninth place and Arsenal one place and one point better off, both clubs are not where they would like to be, although Europa League qualification is still possible.

Mourinho is used to battling for major silverware and while there is no medal for finishing as the top club in north London, Sunday’s clash could prove crucial in deciding that issue.

“This moment we are both in a very similar situations,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday. “It’s not that incredible emotion where we are fighting for something really big, more than just to finish above the other one.

“It’s missing that, it’s not a match that will decide big things, but probably decides the only thing we can fight for.

“Both of us, realistically, are not fighting for a Champions League position. But it’s a big match for the table, and on top of that there is a rivalry.

“Clubs are made by and for the fans and the fans have a special feeling for this match and so the people on the pitch have to fight.”

Arsenal have been more impressive than Tottenham since the restart, especially in an attacking sense. Tottenham have kept three clean sheets in their last four games, but have managed only five goals in five games, compared to Arsenal’s 10.

“To defend better, to concede less, to keep some clean sheets is obviously important for the team but we want to be attacking minded,” Mourinho said.

“We arrive in very dangerous positions, many times in crossing positions, we have good percentages of ball possession, spend the majority of the time in the opponents half, but no sharpness, no objective, always one more touch, not clear aggressive, sharp, killer decisions to go direct to goal.”

Mourinho said Dele Alli would miss Sunday’s game as he is still struggling with a hamstring injury while defender Eric Dier is suspended.

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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