• Tottenham manager defends rival ahead of north London derby
• 'He has raised expectations by being a winner in the past'
André Villas-Boas has warned the Arsenal fans who want to see the dismissal of Arsène Wenger to be careful what they wish for, as he sought an upturn in his own fortunes with Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's derby at Emirates Stadium.
A section of the Arsenal support has come to believe that their club ought to consider fresh direction under a new manager in the wake of seven years without a trophy and their worst start to a league season since 1982. But Wenger, who retains the full backing of his board, has discovered an ally in his Tottenham counterpart.
"It's the nature of humans," said Villas-Boas, whose team have lost three of their past four league games. "When you are in one place, you always are willing for a change or are prepared to change to something positive. But when change happens, you see what you were missing at first. I certainly feel that he has delivered what Arsenal want for the last years and he continues to be one of the great managers.
"Last year was the same [in terms of the criticism from Arsenal fans]. He has raised the expectations by being a winner in the past and what Arsenal fans expect is seeing trophies and seeing them back where Wenger put them in the past. Certainly, he might be paying the price for the expectations that he arose."
Wenger, whose side are currently in eighth place, a point behind Tottenham, said that he understood the fans' frustrations but he urged them to remember how the club had always "finished in a good position" during his 16 years in charge. He has only ever finished above Tottenham and he is confident of doing so again this season, although he added that it was not his main target.
"The results in the two derbies can have a big influence on the qualifying spots for the Champions League," Wenger said. "It's important to beat Tottenham and it has as well an emotional impact but the main target of the season is not to finish above Tottenham, it's to finish at least in the top four. It's not only Tottenham but other teams who can be in front of us.
"What affects me is that our fans are not happy. It doesn't stop me from doing what I do on the football pitch, but my biggest desire is to see our fans happy, and the players as well. That's not an excuse not to play your game. I believe that our fans will be behind us without any problem.
"I understand the logic of it. It's not that the guys are against you as an individual. They want you to win the game and you represent the guy who can make them happy, so that's part of it, but we haven't done too badly and we'll do it again. We have finished every year in a good position."