Emery questions why Pochettino would want to join United
Arsenal take on Spurs in the Carabao Cup looking for second north London derby win in a month
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: he did not rule out continuing his policy of selecting less experienced players in the Carabao Cup. Photograph: Reuters/John Sibley
The Arsenal manager, whose team host Spurs in the Carabao Cup quarter finals on Wednesday night, is friends with Pochettino, and claimed the Argentinian did not need to move to manage a big club.
“I think he’s very happy at Tottenham,” Emery said. “I think he’s coaching a very big team, with very big players. They are now in the Champions League [last 16] and they are also in a better position in the Premier League than Manchester United.
“I think his performance at Tottenham is very big. I don’t know if he’s thinking to change for another club, but I am looking at him with a very big commitment to Tottenham and he’s creating a good performance too, a good idea. Tottenham have improved a lot with him.”
Arsenal are aiming to secure a second north London derby win in a month having beaten Tottenham 4-2 at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League. Emery, asked how he perceived the gap between his own team and Pochettino’s, said: “Now? It’s five points. That’s the reality. They are doing this season their way in the Premier League and Champions League very consistently. The demand on us to keep up is a very big one.
“Tomorrow is different because it’s Carabao Cup, and we want also tomorrow [Wednesday] to show them we can come with a big performance and can win against them. They will come with a very big ambition too because after the first derby they need to show us and their supporters a big performance.
Emery would not rule out continuing his policy of selecting less experienced players in the Carabao Cup. “We can use some young players because we think with a big performance they can help us win tomorrow.”
Emery had only one fit recognised centre-back in Laurent Koscielny – himself only just back from a seven-month injury lay-off. Some of those defensive issues will be eased as Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back from suspension, but Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all missing – with full-backs Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac also unavailable.
Meanwhile, Tottenham have activated an option to extend Jan Vertonghen’s contract until 2020. The Belgium defender, currently sidelined until January with a thigh injury, was due to see his deal expire in the summer. However, Spurs have moved to tie him down for an additional year, and are believed to be keen to agree a new long-term deal.
The 31-year-old joined Spurs from Ajax in 2012, and has been one of the key players in their rise to becoming an established top-four club. He joins a long list of their current stars who have their immediate future tied up, with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Davinson Sanchez among those who have agreed new terms in the past six months.
Vertonghen has only appeared 14 times this season due to injury problems after his involvement in the summer World Cup with Belgium, for whom he is the record appearance holder.
He missed nine games with a hamstring injury over the autumn, and then was sent off in his first Premier League game back against Arsenal, before sustaining a thigh problem in the draw with Barcelona last week which will keep him out until early 2019.