Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has taken a swipe at "good friend" Jose Mourinho by claiming that playing against the Chelsea boss is "nothing special", ahead of the New Year's Day clash at White Hart Lane.
The former Southampton head coach played down the perceived rivalry between himself and the Portuguese tactician - which originated from their days working in La Liga - by suggesting that when they are pitted against each other, it's just like any run-of-the-mill match.
Pochettino will be looking to get one over his old adversary when his Spurs side take on the Premier League leaders in Thursday's late kick-off, and the Argentine's comments will surely motivate Mourinho even more as he attempts to leave north London with all three points.
The Tottenham chief has actually lost all of his previous five meetings with Mourinho - four of which came during his days in charge of Espanyol, when 'The Special One' was at Real Madrid - but he'll perhaps see this as his best chance of recording a first ever victory over the Chelsea man, despite losing 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the corresponding fixture last month.
“He is a good friend, but it is nothing special to play against him,” Pochettino was quoted saying by the Daily Mirror. “We played a lot of times against Madrid when I was at Espanyol.”
Spurs are currently occupying seventh place in the table with 31 points from their first 19 games, but victory will move them closer to the Champions League places, which was set out as a pre-season target when Pochettino took over during the summer.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will be looking to maintain their three point lead over Manchester City at the summit, in anticipation of Manuel Pellegrini's side recording a victory over Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium today.