Martin Jol hopes Tottenham Hotspur FC can maintain their best league start in 15 years as they play Arsenal FC in the 150th north London derby.
The Dutchman has enjoyed a highly productive first year in charge of Tottenham. Coincidentally his first home match as manager was against Arsenal and resulted in nine goals, as he recalled: "We had four and they had five so it was a bit of a disappointment. Four of their five goals we scored ourselves by giving the ball away at the back, but we are better now because we have more experience with the likes of [Teemu] Tainio, [Edgar] Davids and [Paul] Stalteri. The evidence lies in the fact we've only lost to Chelsea [FC] at home in the league this season."
Jol has instilled a new belief among players and supporters alike and has guided the club to third place in the Premiership, three points and five places ahead of Arsenal. The last time Tottenham led Arsenal going into the season's first meeting was in 1994/95, when current Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann was in the Spurs team.
Investment in potential
The success has been built on a foundation of young English talent, with the club now boasting six Under-21 and five full England internationals. "It is the only way to get good players on board who are young and can cope with the mentality of playing in the Premiership," said Jol. "If the likes of Liverpool [FC], Arsenal, Manchester United [FC] or Chelsea go for a player, they don't go for someone like Aaron Lennon or Michael Carrick. We have a different philosophy and you have to praise us for that because everything will be fine in the future."
Despite Arsenal's lacklustre start to the league campaign, Jol will certainly not be taking Arsène Wenger's side lightly although the visitors have not won away from Highbury so far in the Premiership. After all, Tottenham have not tasted derby success in all competitions since a 2-1 home win in November 1999 - 12 encounters ago.
Arsenal have been blighted by injuries to key players, with Ashley Cole and Aleksandr Hleb still sidelined, while Thierry Henry is a serious doubt due to the recurrence of his groin problem. Wenger's men are also missing the influential Patrick Vieira, sold to Juventus during the summer. "People talk about Arsenal going through a transitional period, but it is only because of the number of injuries they've had," Jol added. "They're a very good team especially when everyone is fit. Sol Campbell could be back, but Fredrik Ljungberg is still a doubt. But since Henry has been back, they have been winning again."
Tottenham, seeking to qualify for UEFA competition for the first time since winning the 1999 English League Cup, will be missing their own motivational force as Davids is suspended. However, Jol feels any talk of UEFA Champions League football remains premature, saying: "We want to be a top-six club, and we can do that but we are still looking for the perfect balance. Everyone realises we are still not the finished article. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are still a bit better than us because they have more experience. Chelsea are 100 per cent in every department and that's what we want to achieve."