Many of our players jetted off to represent their countries after our home victory over Crystal Palace on November 5, while others spent the international period working hard at Hotspur Way to return to fitness after picking up slight injuries during a gruelling spell of matches.
While the squad reconvened on the training pitches in recent days, Mauricio has spent the last fortnight counting down the hours to his seventh Premier League meeting with Arsenal, his eighth overall, and plotting the Gunners’ downfall in Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off at the Emirates.
“Always in your mind you’re preparing in the last two weeks, thinking about Arsenal and what that game means for our fans and for everyone,” the manager told Spurs TV.
“Always the feelings are good. It’s exciting to play a derby against Arsenal, the most important thing now is for the team to try to be ready after the international break, all in the same condition and a good condition to try to be competitive.
“For us, every game is there to make a statement, to try to win, to play well. Of course, when you go to play at the Emirates against Arsenal, always in your mind is to try to win and play better than your opponents. It’s a massive game, an important game and it means more than three points.
“Like always in a derby, you play for your emotions, not only for the three points, and we hope that we are in a good level and our performance will be good, or great, to try to win – that is our objective.”
Do the preparations for the north London derby become more familiar, the more times you face Arsenal?
“All the games are difficult to prepare for, all the games are different. It’s true that the motivation is there because when you play against Arsenal, it’s a derby and the fans push you – it means a lot for everyone. But, of course, every game is different. We are going to try to develop our plan, then on the pitch try to deliver it and try to do better than them.”
How do you get the message across to our new signings about the importance of this fixture?
“Everyone knows that the game is so important. It means more for our fans, but the team in every game is giving their best. We are playing with passion, we are trying in every game to win and we are happy in the way that we are competing and playing. Now is an opportunity to try to play well, knowing that it’s a derby at the Emirates and that in front of us we’re going to have a very good team with a great manager. Of course, it will be very tough.”
What do you think of the state of the squad, fitness-wise, ahead of the match?
“We have Toby (Alderweireld) and Victor (Wanyama) still out, then we need to assess a few players like (Erik) Lamela, Harry Winks, Harry Kane and Dele Alli (today, Friday) to have the decision if they are fit for the game.”
King's Cross - a notice for fans travelling to Arsenal
Arsenal v Spurs - information for fans travelling to the Emirates Stadium
Scouting report - Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette
Defining moment - David Bentley
Arsenal v Spurs - team news
Pre-Arsenal training gallery