(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur will only benefit from the return of fans for Sunday’s Premier League home game against Arsenal if they are there to get behind the team and not just soak up the atmosphere in the stadium, manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday.
London has been placed under Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions by the British government, paving the way for a limited return of fans to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since March.
When asked if the return of spectators would give the Premier League leaders an added boost, Mourinho said: “It depends on the fans, their profile, the way people will face the game.
“Do they want to go to the most beautiful stadium in England and enjoy that? Or do they want to go to play the game? If they want to enjoy the stadium and their passion for football, I don’t think it makes a big difference.
“If they want to go there and play, wear a Tottenham shirt and play the game, that can give a little more motivation and pleasure for us, yes.”
Mikel Arteta, whose Arsenal side defeated Rapid Vienna 4-1 in Thursday’s Europa League clash in front of 2000 fans at the Emirates Stadium, said the presence of spectators would give Spurs the upper hand.
“Probably, because this sport without fans is completely different,” he said. “The players lose a bit of purpose and emotion.
“We are here to make the fans enjoy. They have huge passion and when they are able to transmit that it gets directly into the players. To have them here at home or away it’s always different.”
Arsenal, who are 14th, have picked up just four points in their last six league matches heading into Sunday’s clash but Mourinho believes the form book can be thrown out of the window.
“We all know that a derby is nothing to do with form, momentum, injuries, suspensions. It’s nothing to do with that. It’s just Tottenham v Arsenal,” he said. “In these matches the table doesn’t say anything, the results don’t say anything.”