Arsene Wenger warmed up for Saturday’s explosive north London derby by insisting Tottenham Hotspur will never become a Premier League power unless they follow Arsenal’s blueprint for success.
After being unable to match their title rivals’ spending power for several years, Gunners boss Wenger is finally reaping the rewards of Arsenal’s decision to leave their historic but antiquated Highbury home and move into the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium in 2006.
The £390 million ($633 million) cost of building their high-tech new abode initially proved a problem for Wenger as it diverted funds that would otherwise have been used in the transfer market, but the increased revenue from the Emirates is now working in his favour.
Wenger last year signed Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil for a club record £42 million and spent another £30 million to land Chile winger Alexis Sanchez before the start of the current campaign.
It is the kind of spending spree that can transform a team from pretenders to serious contenders, and Wenger says Tottenham — who haven’t finished above Arsenal for 19 years — must follow the same formula if they are to break into the top four on a long-term basis.
Spurs are pushing ahead with proposals to redevelop land around White Hart Lane to accommodate a new 56,250-capacity venue, but following legal challenges in the High Court could be set for a season of ground-sharing rather than being able to move for the 2017-18 campaign as planned.
“You cannot be in a business where you turn down 15,000 or 20,000 people every week. If your competitors have more financial power than you, at some stage you have to make a decision,” Wenger said.
“It looks like everybody makes this decision now, because when you look at Liverpool, Everton, (they) want to increase their capacity. If you stay in a smaller capacity, it is even more difficult.”
– Derby crunch –
Also on Saturday, Liverpool will look to get their spluttering season back on track in the Merseyside derby against Everton.
The Reds have lost three of their opening five games and needed penalties to see off second-tier Middlesbrough in the League Cup on Tuesday, edging a remarkable shootout 14-13 after a 2-2 draw.
Given Liverpool’s poor form, it is no surprise boss Brendan Rodgers hopes the derby can provide the same morale boost as last year’s Anfield clash with Everton.
The 4-0 victory over their neighbours in January was the start of a run that brought Liverpool 37 points from a possible 39 and Rodgers said: “We haven’t made the best of starts this season but in the like-for-like games last season, we’re only a point different.
“We go into this game with a great opportunity to get a victory in a derby game, which we will hope can provide a platform for us to go on consistently, like it did last year.”
Everton went down 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, but although they have not won at Anfield for 15 years, manager Roberto Martinez says they will approach the game with a positive attitude.
“The defeat against Crystal Palace, there was something spooky about it,” he said, in reference to the fact that Palace had also won 3-2 on their previous visit to Goodison Park in April.
“The last time we beat Liverpool at Anfield was September 27 (in 1999), so I hope the spookiness carries on at the weekend.”
Three points clear after a 1-1 draw at defending champions Manchester City last weekend, leaders Chelsea host third-place Aston Villa. Second-place Southampton, level on points with Villa, tackle Queens Park Rangers.
City, meanwhile, visit Hull City, having demolished second-tier Sheffield Wednesday 7-0 in the League Cup in mid-week.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal faces an injury crisis in central defence ahead of his side’s home game with West Ham United.
The Dutchman will hope to see a vastly improved defensive display after United lost 5-3 at Leicester City last weekend.
But with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling injured, and Tyler Blackett suspended following his dismissal at the King Power Stadium, Marcos Rojo is United’s only available senior centre-back.
Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (1630 GMT), Chelsea v Aston Villa, Crystal Palace v Leicester City, Hull City v Manchester City, Liverpool v Everton (1145 GMT), Manchester United v West Ham United, Southampton v Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland v Swansea City
Sunday (1500 GMT)
West Bromwich Albion v Burnley
Monday (1900 GMT)
Stoke City v Newcastle United
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