Jose Mourinho exclusive: Tottenham cannot be fazed by Premier League title talk

Jose Mourinho says Spurs are "ponies" in Premier League title race despite topping table for past two gameweeks; watch the north London derby, Tottenham vs Arsenal, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4.15pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

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Jose Mourinho says Spurs will not be underestimating Arsenal in the north London derby despite the Gunners being in the bottom half of the table

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News' Gary Cotterill, Jose Mourinho called on Tottenham to be "calm and patient" in their pursuit of silverware as they get set for a vital north London derby against Arsenal.

Mourinho has never lost a home match against Arsenal, and a derby win on Sunday will see Spurs top the table for the third week running.

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A couple of recent Europa League nights have not been to his liking, but Mourinho is much happier with his team's Premier League performances.

Many fans and some pundits are beginning to believe Spurs can be title contenders, but the Portuguese is urging his players to stay focused.

"If the talk outside is positive talk, we have to be patient and calm and not excited," he told Sky Sports News. "If the talk is negative and critical, we cannot be affected by that either.

"We have to be cool, we have to keep a balance and give everything we have, always, and at the end of the season we will see what happens."

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Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho insists the form guide is irrelevant when it comes to derby matches

A season that ends in May 2021 - and, as Tottenham fans know, it's lucky for Spurs when the year ends in one. Mourinho, though, has no time for such frivolity.

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"I don't care about these coincidences or superstitions," he says. "It's not for me at all. I don't care."

So, Mourinho is not a fan of superstition, but he does enjoy the occasional metaphor. Like last weekend for example, when he said Spurs were not a horse in the title race, but merely a pony.

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Jose Mourinho says leaders Tottenham are not in the title race, describing them as a 'pony' in the battle to win the Premier League

It's a simile he's sticking with, even when I read him this official description of a pony.

"Ponies are incredibly strong for their size," I explain. "They can pull or carry heavy loads with more strength than horses, relative to their size. They are hardier than horses. They can withstand greater ranges in temperature.

"So, Jose," I put to him, "When the going gets tough, ponies are better than horses."

He listens, contemplates a while, then laughs. "Are they? So why in the big races do the top jockeys not go with ponies!?"

Good answer.

North London Derby Stapler Arsenal Tottenham

Arsenal will be more defensive

So, if Spurs are ponies in the title race, what are Arsenal, who go into the game eight points adrift of Tottenham?

"I don't know, Mikel has to say that," Mourinho says. "To me they are a very good team that had a big improvement last season.

"This season if you look at Manchester United versus Arsenal or if you look at Liverpool versus Arsenal - even though they lost - you realise they can beat anyone. They are quite versatile, they can play in different ways.

"Personally I think they will go back to what they were a few months ago, playing with a back five and being much more defensive because that was the way they beat Manchester City and Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and final. They are going to be a difficult opponent."

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Tottenham have prioritised winning titles rather than style of play under Jose Mourinho, says former Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone

Ahead of the north London derby, Mourinho also found time to offer support to some of the area's most vulnerable children.

He's become an ambassador to Tottenham's 'To Care Is To Do' project, which offers children in care out-of-school-hours learning. Mourinho, who was a teacher in his home town, before becoming one of the world's top coaches, will invite groups of youngsters to Tottenham's Enfield training ground for regular mentoring sessions.

"I am extremely passionate about helping young people achieve the best they can in life, and realise their potential," he says. "Children that have grown up in care often find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to education and employment opportunities.

"This has inspired me to work with this group of young people, offer them advice and help them believe in themselves."

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Image: What will you predict to give yourself a chance of landing the £5,000?

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