Jose Mourinho begins north London derby mind games early and claims Arsenal have big advantage

Jose Mourinho begins north London derby mind games early and claims Arsenal have big advantage
The Spurs head coach is unhappy with how the fixtures have fallen (Picture: Spurs TV)

There may still be 20 days until the north London derby but that has not stopped Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho from starting his mind games, highlighting the advantage Arsenal have been afforded with the fixture list.

The two sides will face off on July 12 at an empty Tottenham Hotspur stadium, with the first derby at Spurs’ new home having to take place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus crisis.

Tottenham have a strange scenario coming up, with their exit from the FA Cup meaning they do not play for nine days following Tuesday night’s derby against West Ham.

Tottenham Hotspur's manager Jose Mourinho during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in London
Mourinho’s side returned to action with a 1-1 draw at home to Man United (Picture: EPA)

After that extended period without a game, they then take on Sheffield United, Everton, Bournemouth and finally Arsenal over a period of 11 days.

Spurs play on the Thursday night before Sunday’s north London derby, while Arsenal play two days earlier, and Mourinho has already highlighted this disparity despite needing to face four teams before hosting the Gunners.

Asked if a nine-day break is unhelpful at this stage of the restarted season, Mourinho said at his Zoom pre-match press conference before taking on West Ham: ‘Look to be honest, I don’t like the nine days until Sheffield.

‘But I also don’t like to play three matches in six days, which is going to happen in the week where we play Arsenal.

‘And Arsenal is going to have I believe six days from the previous game to that one and we are going to play six days, three matches.

‘So I don’t like both. I like the balance. I like three days in between matches. I like a balanced situation. These nine days are of course not good for us at all.’

Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Arsenal have already lost twice since the restart, against Man City and Brighton (Picture: Getty)

At the start of the season the north London derby might have been earmarked as a potential Champions League decider so late in the campaign, though now both sides are likely hoping to finish fifth at best – a position which could be enough to qualify if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld.

Asked if fifth place is now the target, Mourinho continued: ‘I have to admit that in this fixture [against Man Utd] we lost two points to the fourth and if the fifth gives access to the Champions League it becomes of course a much more realistic position.

‘Four points to United, four points to Wolves, two points to Sheffield, two points I think ahead of Arsenal. The fifth position becomes a much more realistic target, but we had nine matches now we have eight. We go match after match and in the end let’s see where we are.’

MORE: Jose Mourinho aims dig at Bruno Fernandes over Manchester United’s penalty claim in Spurs draw

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