Wenger to Pochettino – concentrate on battling a "fear" of failing to win
The Argentine has worked wonders since arriving at White Hart Lane, but he is still chasing the first crown of his tenure with the club
Arsene Wenger has offered some advice to Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino when it comes to winning the first trophy of his managerial career.
The former Espanyol head coach has won widespread praise for transforming Spurs into one of the Premier League’s strongest sides, with surprise title challenges in 2015-16 and 2016-17 sustained until the final weeks of the season.
However, Pochettino’s detractors continue to point to the fact he has yet to deliver on Spurs’ promise and secure silverware, with an EFL Cup final defeat to Chelsea in 2015 the closest they have come since he took charge three years ago.
Wenger, whose first major trophy was the Ligue 1 title with Monaco back in 1987-88, says the key is to ignore the prize and concentrate on battling a "fear" of failing to win.
"By keeping your nerves and getting the players to focus on what is important," the Arsenal manager told a news conference when asked how to challenge for a first trophy.
"At some stages, by fighting a little bit against your inhibitions – the fear that you won’t get over the line. Basically, you need to focus on what is important and not focus on the trophy too much.
"You always do [feel anxiety]. It is always difficult to finish a job as, it must be difficult to finish a book. It is difficult to finish any job."
Wenger takes his side into Saturday’s derby with Spurs at the Emirates Stadium as the underdogs, with the Gunners four points behind Pochettino’s side in the table and having lost their last meeting in April 2-0.
However, the 68-year-old insists they do not consider the visitors to be the favourites and has called on Arsenal to prove they are the stronger side.
"The derby is one of the fixtures that is very important in the season but one that we also want to win to make ground up in the table with the top teams," he said. "At home we have been strong, and our home strengths will be vital in deciding where we finish at the end of the season.
"We have no fear, we are focused on nullifying their strengths and expressing ours. Tottenham are a good side but we have the quality to win the game.
"We don’t see ourselves as underdogs at all. I think the question about the balance of power in north London is a question we have to answer and the only way to answer is on the pitch. The comparison will be between the two performances on Saturday and we have a good opportunity to show we are strongest, so let’s do it."