Jose Mourinho is confident his Tottenham side are ready for the challenge as they attempt to inflict a second major blow of the season on his former club Manchester United.
After a stunning 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October, Mourinho’s Tottenham will bid to end United’s 22-match unbeaten away run in the Premier League on Sunday.
United sit second in the table, with Spurs down in sixth, but five successive home wins in all competitions may give the hosts an edge ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash.
Mourinho, sacked as United boss in December 2018, expects a game that is a world away from their earlier meeting this season.
“I think that 6-1 doesn’t reflect the reality,” he said. “It can happen sometimes between two big clubs, these crazy results, but they happen in an isolated way. I go much more in the direction of the other two previous matches between us and United.
“We lost 2-1 at Old Trafford with a penalty and we drew 1-1 at home last season also with a penalty.
“For me, this is more the reality. We are not far from each other. I think it’s going to be a difficult match for both.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he expects his team to use their savaging at Spurs’ hands as motivational fuel for the trip to north London.
Mourinho said: “If it was the opposite, my team losing 6-1 against them, I would say to my guys that it happened once but it’s not going to happen twice, the game is going to be tight and we can win. But I don’t know. Maybe Solskjaer thinks in a different way.”
Tottenham were knocked out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb last month, and Mourinho, though regretful of that result, says there has at least been the positive knock-on effect of being able to work extensively on the training pitch this week.
“I go with confidence because I believe in us, I believe in the work we are doing this week to try to prepare the match the best we can,” he said.
“I don’t want to go to the match with other things in mind other than we are ready.
“We are working well during this week, for the wrong reasons, which is that we were knocked out of the Europa League. For the wrong reasons, we were able to have a week to work – we didn’t have many during the season.
“Now, we had it. And that makes me positive. I enjoyed the work this week and I’m positive.”
United have had penalties against Tottenham in their past three Premier League meetings, but Mourinho brushed off that factor.
“I cannot go to a football match concerned, I don’t think it’s the right frame of mind,” he said.
The Portuguese admires United’s away form in the league but does not consider the visitors unbeatable this weekend, as Tottenham chase a first league double over United since the 1989-90 season, when Terry Venables was Spurs manager.
United have won just one of their past eight away Premier League matches against Spurs (D4 L3), a 1-0 win at Wembley in January 2019.
“I’m not going to comment on the record, apart from to say many congratulations,” Mourinho said.
“I know that is very, very difficult for different reasons, but that record is not going to stop us to think and feel we can win, and it is not going to stop us to fight to win.
“At the end of the match, maybe the result is different and their record becomes even better. But it’s not the record that is going to stop us thinking we can win.”
United have not conceded more than seven goals – achieved by four clubs – against any opponent over their two meetings in the Premier League era, a record that could be broken on Sunday.
The last team to score more than seven against United in a top-flight season were Spurs, who netted eight against the Red Devils in 1962-63.