Jose Mourinho dismisses Mikel Arteta claim that Tottenham have north London derby advantage

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Tottenham won in the season's first north London derby
Tottenham won in the season's first north London derby / PAUL CHILDS/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho has dismissed Mikel Arteta's claim that Tottenham have an unfair advantage ahead of Sunday's north London derby.

The fierce rivals meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday after both play in the Europa League round of 16 on Thursday. Spurs host Dinamo Zagreb, while Arsenal face a trip to Greece to take on Olympiacos.

Speaking before the game, Arteta speculated that his side's longer travel time could hand Spurs the edge on Sunday.

Tottenham face Arsenal in the North London Derby on Sunday
Tottenham go into the game in good form / Julian Finney/Getty Images

However, this was strongly refuted by Mourinho, who said as quoted by Sky Sports: "On December 6, we played against Arsenal in our stadium. On December 3, Arsenal played at home against Rapid Vienna.

"At the same time, we were playing in the ice in Linz against LASK Linz. We landed in London at 3am. Was that an advantage for Arsenal?"

In terms of the league battle, Tottenham are the favourites. They currently sit in seventh place, while Arsenal are tenth, although they would close the gap to four points with a win.

Due to the magnitude of Sunday's game, Mourinho confirmed he would shuffle his pack against Zagreb while still putting out a strong side.

"Am I going to repeat the same team that played against Crystal Palace? No, I'm going to make a few changes, but everybody is training well, pushing to play. So for me, it doesn't matter who plays, our team is going to be strong."

One player who definitely will not feature is Giovani Lo Celso. The playmaker has been hampered by injuries this season and Mourinho confirmed the Argentine is still struggling for fitness.

"Gio is not ready but it is nothing to do with his previous important injury, which is totally recovered," he said. "But with the accumulation of work his feelings are not the best, a little bit of some back pain and he had to stop working the way he was doing."