Ange Postecoglou has promised Tottenham supporters they will take the game to Arsenal in Sunday’s derby fixture.
Spurs have won four of their five Premier League matches under the Australian, but the biggest test of this bold new era in N17 will occur this weekend at a ground where victories have been notoriously hard to achieve.
Tottenham’s last league success at the Emirates was in 2010, although the most underwhelming aspect of recent displays at Arsenal has been the lack of attacking imagination with Postecoglou’s predecessors Antonio Conte, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho all favouring pragmatism in this match.
“Absolutely extraordinary — a derby day they’ll never forget!” 🔥
Next up, the North London Derby 👊 pic.twitter.com/q4AurWkUna
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 21, 2023
There appears no chance of the current Spurs head coach employing a defensive approach and the 58-year-old is excited to watch how his young group cope in a fiery atmosphere against one of the division’s best teams.
“When I went into Champions League games with Celtic or went into World Cup games with Australia, people said I should have changed my approach and we got some pretty decent lessons along the way, but I just think that’s the only way you can measure yourself,” Postecoglou explained.
“How do you know if you want to be that kind of team? That’s the question. If you want to be a team that challenges, you know you have to play that way irrespective of the opponent.
“There’s no point not using a game like Sunday as a measure to see where we’re at.
“If we shy away from it, don’t play our football, manage to get a draw and survive the experience, what have we really learned? Apart from surviving 90 minutes of football? Nothing.
“The players already know that’s what will be my message to them. We’re going to go out and play our football.
“If we’re short, we’re short and we need to make it up. If we match them it’s great isn’t it (because) we know we have a long way to go and we’ve already established ourselves and on the biggest occasions we’ve shown we’re prepared to play our football.”
Spurs have had a full week to prepare for the trip across north London, while Arsenal warmed up for Sunday with a 4-0 thrashing of PSV on Wednesday night.
PSV tried to aggressively press Mikel Arteta’s side and were picked off to devastating effect on the Gunners return to the Champions League.
It was put to Postecoglou that Arsenal would prefer an open match, but the Tottenham boss responded: “I’m not really bothered about what Arsenal want as a game. I’m bothered about what we want as a game.
“It’s about us challenging ourselves to be the football team we want to be and the kind of progress we want to make is playing the football we’ve started playing. It’s as simple as that.
“What the opposition may want or may not want becomes a moot point for us if we don’t play our football. There’s always natural adjustments during a game because of what the opposition do.
“But we’ve started playing this way because it’s how I believe we’re going to be successful, not because I’m trying to create something easy on the eye.”
Postecoglou acknowledged the inexperienced nature of his squad for this derby date with Guglielmo Vicario, Pedro Porro, Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie and James Maddison set to be involved in the fixture for the first time.
Even Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr have limited memories of playing for Tottenham against Arsenal but the ex-Celtic head coach says that all contributes towards Sunday being a crucial part of the group’s journey.
He added: “This is the experiences I want the guys to have and for us to have as a group to help us grow. It is the only way you grow.
“You don’t grow by literally being in the shade. You need to stick your head up and see the sun and allow yourself to grow even if it means at times that experience isn’t a great one because you can grow from that.
“It is a challenge for all of the group and us, but irrespective it won’t stop our real intent to become this kind of football team whatever the outcome.”