Spurs winger Dejan Kulusevski reveals what separates Arsenal from Tottenham

Following Tottenham's heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Arsenal in the North London derby, Dejan Kulusevski spoke openly about what separates the two clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

In the world of Premier League football, no greater mystery remains than how Tottenham Hotspur can make the final leap from borderline to truly elite. The club has finished eighth or better in every Premier League season since 2008, and is currently on pace for its 13th top-five finish since 2005.

Impressive as that may be, Tottenham hasn’t won the Premier League since 1960-61—and it’s finished as the runner-up just twice during that time, with one such season being 1962-63.

In recent years, world-class players such as Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and Son Heung-min have taken on the task of leading the embattled club to the promised land. Unfortunately, there has seemingly been a missing ingredient during each of those attempts.

Current Spurs winger Dejan Kulusevski seems to have identified exactly what it is that’s preventing his club from making that elusive jump to the top tier of football giants.

Tottenham recently suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to bitter rival Arsenal in the North London derby. With Arsenal sitting atop the Premier League table, albeit with a one-game advantage over Manchester City, the question inevitably arose: What are The Gunners doing that the Spurs have consistently been unable to?

Following the loss, Kulusevski was asked about the difference between the two clubs and spoke candidly about what Arsenal has that Tottenham doesn't.

Per David Hytner of The Guardian:

“They are much more disciplined and a little bit more mature,” Kulusevski said. “That is where we are lacking at the moment. What do I mean by that? They score on corners. We concede. It is quite easy. It is being strong in difficult moments like a set piece.

It [mentality] is all in life,” Kulusevski said. “That is the only thing that matters – the head. You can be how good you want in football but you’ve got to be strong in every situation. Arsenal have obviously done that in the last period. They fight to win the league. We still have to do that. We are improving in other areas. We still lack a little bit in that part.”

That’s likely an infuriating statement to read for a Spurs fan, but it’s one that few would ultimately disagree with.

Despite its success as a perennial threat for a Champions League finish, Tottenham has gone through an alarming number of managers in a rather short period of time. Since 2012, there have been seven full-time managers, one caretaker, and two acting managers.

Ange Postecoglou is the latest in that long line of individuals, which includes the legendary José Mourinho and Antonio Conte, and current Premier League managers Mauricio Pochettino and Nuno Espírito Santo.

That constant turnover in the manager position is impossible to overlook when comparing Tottenham to the other top squads in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp, for instance, has been with Liverpool since 2015. Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, has led Manchester City since 2016.

Specific to Arsenal, Mikel Arteta has not only spent the past five seasons with the club, but has been empowered to endure the occasional down period in order to properly build a sustainable culture.

Arsenal finished outside of the Top 5 in the Premier League in both 2019-20 and 2020-21, but has since witnessed the fruits of Arteta’s labour. It finished fifth in 2021-22 with 69 points, secured a second-place finish in the EPL in 2022-23, and is currently leading the Premier League with three matches remaining in 2023-24.

This isn’t to say that Tottenham should or should not have given any of its previous managers a longer tenure, but it’s hard to expect an identity to be established at the club when the voice in the dressing room changes so consistently.

It’s possible that Tottenham has simply selected the wrong manager time after time, thus resulting in their seven managers in 12 seasons. It’s also conceivable that there’s a cultural issue that goes beyond what any manager can do, thus resulting in the mentality that Kulusevski described.

Regardless of what the issue is, one thing is clear: The ruthlessness and commitment to the task that has driven Arsenal to its success is absent from the Tottenham dressing room.

Figuring out how to resolve that issue will be the key to unlocking this club’s full potential.

Do you agree with Dejan Kuluseveski's take on Tottenham? Or is there more to it? Submit a proposal to join the team at Hotspur HQ at openings.fansided.com and make your voice heard today!