Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou said Sunday’s north London derby at Arsenal will be a “great test” of his side’s flying start to the season.
Postecoglou’s undefeated team currently occupies the second position in the Premier League, ahead of Arsenal by two places. They have won four out of their first five matches.
At the outset of the season, Tottenham faced low expectations due to Harry Kane’s departure to Bayern Munich, and there were concerns about how former Celtic manager Postecoglou would adapt to the Premier League.
However, the Australian manager has exceeded those concerns thus far, creating a high-scoring team that has netted 13 goals in five league games, providing a refreshing change from the previous, more defensive style during Antonio Conte’s tenure.
Securing their first league victory against Arsenal since 2010 would mark a significant milestone in Tottenham’s progress under Postecoglou.
“From our perspective, it’s a great challenge for us as a football team that’s beginning on a journey and trying to have an identity on the way we play,” he said on Friday.
“There’s no greater test than playing one of the top teams in the country away from home, who also happens to be your biggest rival.”
Arsenal are among the leading title contenders after coming close to taking the trophy from Manchester City last term and making an unbeaten start to the current campaign.
While Postecoglou is well aware of the message a win against Arsenal would send to the rest of the league, he is keen to focus on the quality of the performance, rather than solely on the result.
“We’re five games in. I understand that for many people, they will see this as our first real test and I get that,” he said.
“For me, what is going to be more important is how much of our football I see in a big game like this. How much of us can I see against a top opponent?
“That will give me the biggest indicator of where we’re at, but ultimately we’ll still be six games into a new cycle, a new group of players, a very young group of players.”
Similarities can be drawn between the rebuilding job Postecoglou has been tasked with at Tottenham and the work achieved by Mikel Arteta during the past four years at Arsenal.
“They have a new challenge, a new opportunity. They have a new manager who is doing really well and he’s managed to change the vibe around the club, with a different style too,” Arteta said.
“I really like him. I have players who had him before and they always speak really highly of him, which is not a coincidence because straight away he’s fitting in the right way.
“We need to be ourselves and produce the performance to beat them. That’s the beauty of the league where there are top managers, competition and every game is very difficult.”