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Jose Mourinho’s subtle Arsenal statement makes Tottenham’s desire crystal clear

With form set to go out of the window, Jose Mourinho has reminded his men not to take ailing Arsenal for granted.

But the Spurs boss could not help admitting that he and his side have set their sights much higher than north London bragging rights this season.

Mourinho has painted a picture of his side, underachievers last season, being a little pony in a title race of classic contenders. In Chelsea and Liverpool they are indeed up against two thoroughbreds well versed with the course and distance.

He is hoping, however, that his own experience of lifting titles in Portugal, Italy, Spain and in England will prove the difference – and wants his league leaders to continue looking up rather than down.

“It means more when we are not in the position we are now because now we are in such a good position,” said Mourinho.

“It is a little bit different because we want the points and we are not just like, we want to beat Arsenal because to beat Arsenal is the only good thing we can give to our fans.

Mourinho and Kane have Arsenal in their sights

“It happened last season when we played Arsenal in the last part of the season.

“It was about winning against Arsenal to give something good, to have a good feeling. In this moment, we also look to the table and we are in a good position, fighting for positions in the top part of the table.

“But we never forget the fact that there are historical rivalries and what it means for the fans.

“Even for people that were not born at Tottenham, and many of us are in this situation. When you arrive at the club you understand the culture, you learn the culture and you share the values with the fans.”

As if to illustrate the point, Mourinho couldn’t help a dig at the fact that he has worked his customary magic without being able to match the exorbitant salary that Tottenham’s arch-rivals are paying to £220,000-a-week Willian.

The 32-year-old landed the three-year deal at the Emirates after Chelsea refused to bow to his demands.

But the Brazilian has failed to reproduce his sparkling form of last season in recent weeks while Spurs sit top of the table having qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Willian is yet to show his best at the Emirates

“We don’t have money for Willian,” he added.

“We cannot pay the wages that he gets at Arsenal so I didn’t want to waste our time because we cannot pay these wages.

“He is still dangerous, he is still one of the best players in the Premier League. Apart from that, he is a good friend. I have nothing to hide in relation to that.

“We keep in touch, we keep in contact, we call each other. We wish good things to each other. He is my friend and of course he is a very good player.”

Although Harry Kane missed Thursday night’s Europa League win in LASK with a mystery injury, Mourinho insisted the England captain will be fit and ready to play in Sunday’s game.

“I believe so. He had a little problem. He was not available. It was not like I wanted to protect him.

“He had a problem but it’s the kind of problem that I can say I expect him to play.”

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