Nuno Espirito Santo knows Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal is a “special” occasion, as Tottenham look to return to form by defeating their rivals.
Spurs have lost their past two top-flight games 3-0, with both matches being London derbies. They have never lost three consecutive league games by three or more goals in their entire history.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have recovered from losing their first three matches of the season by an aggregate score of 9-0 by beating Norwich City and Burnley, winning 1-0 on each occasion. The Gunners last won three in a row without conceding in July 2020, while they last had three consecutive 1-0 victories in August 2008.
Heading into the September international break, Arsenal were bottom and Spurs were at the summit for the first time in top-flight history, though the rivals will be on level points should Mikel Arteta’s team win at Emirates Stadium.
Just one of the previous 10 Tottenham managers to take charge in a north London derby has won their first top-flight meeting against Arsenal, though it was Jose Mourinho in July 2020, and Nuno is relishing the biggest match of his tenure so far.
“It is not another game. It is a special game,” he told a news conference on Friday.
“It is a special game for us, a special game for our fans. It is going to be a tough match and it’s a different game.
“It is a special moment for us. The attendance will be 66,000 people. That is huge.
“We have to compete, we have to play. We have to compete well. Give everything that we can and play well.
“Finding the right balance. Improvements have to be made, but we had a lot of positives that we take from the previous games.”
Harry Kane is the all-time highest goalscorer in competitive meetings between Arsenal and Tottenham, with 11 goals. He failed to score against Arsenal in their last meeting in March, but has never gone without a goal against the Gunners in back-to-back games.
However, the England captain has had a stuttering start to the season and is yet to score a Premier League goal after opting to stay at the club.
It is the first time Kane has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season since 2015-16, while he has attempted just four shots so far.
“He always looks forward to playing [against Arsenal],” Nuno said of Kane, whose tendency to drop deep has been the subject of some criticism in recent weeks, especially after the defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
Pressed on Kane’s role, Nuno added: “What I look more is to create the best for the team. What do you want is to create a situation where our players work well in positions that they feel more comfortable.
“It is up to the team. What we are looking for is how we can build the team so all our players feel natural to play in the best positions they can do it.
“I think that we are improving. We have a lot of problems and situations to improve and get better for the mistakes that we make but the recent performances are getting better. I am confident that we will be much better.”