Arsenal v Chelsea: Arteta hails “mentor” Pochettino ahead of London derby

Arsenal v Chelsea: Arteta hails “mentor” Pochettino ahead of London derby

Ahead of Tuesday’s London derby, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has praised his Chelsea counterpart, Mauricio Pochettino, for the mentorship role he played during their short time together in France.

The duo played together at Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain when Arteta was on loan from Barcelona in the 2001–02 season, in the early days of his professional football career.

During this period, Pochettino, who moved to PSG from Espanyol, took Arteta under his wing as the more senior player, and the Arsenal boss heaped praise on the Argentine during his pre-match conference on Monday.

“For sure,” Arteta remarked on Pochettino being influential on his career. “One of the most, I would say that was 17 or 18 years old in Paris. I was thrown in Paris, 1st of January, I think, with no experience in professional football. And, he doesn’t like it but for me he was like a father.

“He really took me under his arm. He gave me incredible advice. He really protected me, inspired me. And I learned so much in those two years we’ve spent together and from there, obviously, we maintained the relationship. And, I knew he was going to be a coach.

“I admire him a lot for what he’s done in his career, and he’s always someone that I look to. Because as I said, he was really impactful for me, probably the most important stage of my professional career was the beginning. And he was one that as a role model, I couldn’t pick anybody better than him.”

Arteta, 42, is ten years younger than Pochettino, and the former Everton midfielder also hailed the Blues boss for his approach to life and how he helped shape his career.

“Yeah. When I had to stop and I had to make a decision. I asked him, I explained the situation, and he gave me some advice and yeah, it was needed,” Arteta said.

“The way he doesn’t need to talk to me about tactic, the best influence that he had on me is the way he approaches his life. His profession. His family. Who he was as a figure in that dressing room and the passion and the love he had for the game. That’s for me the most important thing that I learned from him.”

Arsenal and Chelsea will rekindle their rivalry in a crunch Premier League test at the Emirates Stadium, and Arteta has charged his team to try to win the game so as to keep the pressure on Manchester City, who will have played two games less than the Gunners.

“It helps,” the 42-year-old Spaniard said. “I think that helps because at the end you’re winning your matches and you bring in the margins smaller and smaller.

“And that’s the only thing that we can do at the moment, because it’s still not in our hands and that we will try to do tomorrow night and perform really well, try to win the game. And if we do that, yeah, the pressure will increase for sure.”

The last time the two teams met in the Premier League, the Gunners held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge despite being two goals behind thanks to late strikes from Declan Rice and Leandro Trossard.

Arsenal are currently at the top of the league standings with 74 points, and they enter the match off the back of a 2-0 win over Wolves at Molineux. Although Chelsea recently lost to City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, they are 9th in the standings and are unbeaten in eight league matches.

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