Arsenal host Tottenham in the Premier League this weekend as we prepare for the first north London derby of the season.
The two sides’ form going into this game couldn’t be more different, with the Gunners firing on all cylinders while Spurs find themselves in the midst of a real rough patch.
Arsene Wenger may rightly feel confident of getting one over Mauricio Pochettino this weekend, but could he one day make way for the Argentine to take the Emirates Stadium hot seat?
In all honesty, probably not, unless Pochettino has Sol Campbell-like levels of trolling in him by daring to cross the divide between the white and red side of north London.
Still, the qualities in the Argentine’s locker arguably make him an ideal candidate to one day replace the legendary Wenger. If Arsenal are short of options in that department, they might want to consider these five reasons to poach Poch for the top job…
Record with young players
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier – these are just some of the names that give Tottenham the youngest squad in the Premier League this season.
Last year, they were the fifth youngest in Europe on average, with Pochettino clearly working wonders to get these talented youngsters showing their full potential well ahead of schedule.
Wenger himself has tried introducing young players into his side during his Arsenal reign, though in recent times he’s arguably had much less success than his Spurs counterpart – recent examples of Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi aside, who have come along after years of Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson and Emmanuel Eboue and other failed youth projects.
Tottenham currently boast the best goals-against record in the top flight, having let in just five in ten games so far this season. This is all the more impressive considering they’ve been without PFA Team of the Year defender Toby Alderweireld for their last two matches, and are the only team to stop league leaders and joint-top scorers Manchester City scoring this term.
Pochettino’s Spurs side were also rock solid as they challenged for the title last season, with no team conceding fewer than their 35 goals in 38 games. This didn’t compromise their attacking prowess, however, as they scored 20 more goals than Manchester United, who also let in 35 across the 2015/16 campaign.
Defence has been a bit of a weakness in the latter half of the Wenger era, so someone who can tighten things up at the back whilst keeping the fine football flowing would be very popular indeed.
Arsenal aren’t the biggest spenders in the world, and whether or not that’s down to frugality from Wenger himself or orders from above, it could be useful for the Gunners to bring in someone who can work wonders without splashing huge amounts of cash around.
In his two years at White Hart Lane, Pochettino has had some real success stories despite spending the kind of money that looks more at home in the late 90s than in the £89m-for-Paul-Pogba world we inhabit here in 2016.
Just take a look at these:
Pochettino’s best bargains
Dele Alli – £5m
Eric Dier – £4m
Toby Alderweireld – £11.5m
Son Heung-min – £22m
Victor Wanyama – £11m
Solid big-game record
Arsenal often go missing in the big games, which has cost them dearly in their various failed title challenges over the last decade, but Pochettino could be a step up in that department.
Since the start of last season, after a year of settling in at Tottenham, Pochettino has made his team very difficult to beat in the matches against the Premier League’s established big boys – in fact, they’ve only lost once, to Manchester United on the opening day of last season thanks to a pretty unfortunate Kyle Walker own goal.
Here’s his full record against United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City since the start of 2015/16:
Pochettino in the big games
P11 W4 D6 L1 F16 A7
He also enjoyed that stunning 5-3 win over Chelsea on their way to the title in 2014/15, and he’s yet to lose a north London derby, which is a good trait for a manager of one of these two clubs to have.
Takes St Totteringham’s Day seriously
Last but not least, Pochettino’s classy respect shown to the grand old Arsenal tradition of St Totteringham’s Day last season means he’s surely a true Gooner deep down.
The South American can rightly boast that his side were the only real challengers to eventual champions Leicester last term, but that didn’t stop him ensuring that Spurs’ end-of-season-somehow-finishing-below-Arsenal ceremony was impeccably observed.
Two points ahead of Arsenal on the final day of the season, Spurs went to already-relegated Newcastle needing most likely just a point to finally finish above their rivals, considering the goal difference situation. They lost 5-1.
Tottenham, arguably, are the only side out there who do bottle jobs better than Arsenal, so it seems fitting that Pochettino would eye the Emirates job as his next challenge once he’s done at the Lane.