Tottenham a model for other Premier League clubs - David Ginola
LONDON -- David Ginola says other clubs should follow Tottenham's example on and off the pitch, as Spurs prepare for one of the biggest Premier League matches in their history.
Spurs enter Saturday's crunch North London derby with Arsenal in second place, three points shy of Leicester and three clear of their neighbours. A win would leave them in pole position to challenge the Foxes for a maiden Premier League title and finish above the Gunners for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
There is plenty to admire about the way manager Mauricio Pochettino has transformed Tottenham, who have the youngest squad in the Premier League and more British players than any other team.
Spurs' success under Pochettino has been based on a never-say-die attitude and a relentless work ethic, while off the field they are the only top-flight club to have made a profit over the last five years and have a new state-of-the-art stadium on the way.
And ex-Spur Ginola is full of admiration for the work of Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy and says his other former clubs Newcastle and Aston Villa, both currently in the bottom three, could learn from Spurs.
"Being a Spurs fan, we've been waiting for this moment so long," Ginola said. "Being second in the league, playing Arsenal in third, being in contention for the title for the first time in the history of the Premier League. It's fantastic. A great achievement for Mauricio Pochettino, for the club, for Daniel Levy.
"You always point out things when they don't work but when something works, like they do at Spurs right now, not only the way that winning games is not the only issue, it's the way they do it.
"Last season we were complaining about the defensive side. Their goal difference is now plus 26. They are the best in the league. They defend better, they score goals up front, they've got a great goalkeeper. The mix of young lads is great.
"It's a perfect example for many clubs in the Premier League who would like to find a way to get better results. I was talking about Newcastle and Aston Villa, and this is something we should see even more. It is an example to follow."
Ginola featured in seven North London derbies in a three-year spell at Tottenham but he is convinced that Saturday's match will be different from any he played in.
"Playing Arsenal when you are second or third or whatever is a different game. The entire week is devoted and dedicated to playing the most important game for the fans.
"When I was there, I'm French -- I did not know the real meaning of playing in the North London derby. But when you are there you realise just watching and looking the fans in the eyes what it represents to win this game.
"This season, on top of the important winning this game, is the title in itself. If you can beat Arsenal on Saturday and win the Premier League this season ... well it's going to be amazing."
The Frenchman, however, does not believe there is any more pressure than usual on the players.
"The pressure is always on. More than ever you have pressure there. Aston Villa is under pressure every weekend. They are bottom of the league. So when you are a top player, when you play in the Premier League, the pressure is always there. In training, in front of the media, every Saturday when you are playing games. The pressure is always there."
Ginola has previously revealed that Arsenal tried to sign him in 1995, hours before he joined Newcastle from Paris Saint-Germain. The 49-year-old, a mercurial winger is his pomp, said he had no regrets about the decision to turn down the Gunners, who would go on to win three league titles and four FA Cups in the next decade.
"I signed in the afternoon with [former Newcastle boss Kevin] Keegan and [former Arsenal chief executive] David Dein called me in the evening. But I'd gave my word and my word was worth more than anything else.
"In life you can have regrets. No sorrow. You can always look back at your career thinking, well I could have done this, been better, could have worked harder. But that's it. That's behind. Present time, the future, is something key. You need to look back for the mistakes you did, try to not make it again, it's probably the best case scenario you can get for the future."
Meanwhile, Pat Jennings, probably the only player in history to be considered a legend at both Spurs and Arsenal, says he has no split loyalties ahead of Saturday's match.
"Obviously, I want Spurs to win," said the former Northern Ireland goalkeeper, part of Bill Nicholson's legendary double-winners at Spurs.
"I was 23 years on the coaching staff at Spurs and 14 years a player. That's where my loyalties lie. Having said that, I had two four-year contracts at Arsenal. They were absolutely brilliant to me, so I'd never have a bad word to say about Arsenal either.
"I obviously want Tottenham to win the title, but if they can't win it, I want Arsenal. It's as simple as that."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.