Finishing first is the sole goal for Pochettino
Being above Arsenal will not be a consolation if title goes to Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino has said he will still feel disappointed if Tottenham Hotspur fail to win the Premier League title – even if they end up above Arsenal in the table at the end of the season.
Tottenham sit 14 points clear of their rivals ahead of Sunday’s north London derby. Victory would ensure they end a season above Arsenal for the first time since 1995.
It has been a painful wait for Tottenham’s fans, who have watched their team miss numerous opportunities to finish above Arsenal, not least when they needed only to beat already-relegated Newcastle United on the final day of the last season but conspired to instead lose 5-1, allowing their neighbours to take second place ahead of them.
Pochettino, however, maintained his sole focus remains on catching Chelsea, who remain four points ahead of Tottenham with five games left, and face a tricky trip to Everton tomorrow.
“I understand but my feeling is now when so close, only four points but it’s massive with only five games to play, I will be very disappointed if we don’t win the title,” Pochettino said.
“I will start to think of the good things that have happened this season and be realistic to analyse the season but I really don’t think in which position is Arsenal. “My challenge and my aim is not to be above Arsenal. My challenge and my aim is to be above 19 teams and be on the top. That is my challenge, my aim, my dream. “I don’t care what happens with Arsenal, with all my respect. What I care is what happens with us. That’s our big, big challenge at Tottenham.”
For Tottenham’s fans, guaranteeing superiority over their fiercest rivals by beating them on their home turf would be particularly sweet, especially given this is likely to be the last time this fixture takes place at White Hart Lane. Spurs are due to play home games at Wembley Stadium next season before moving into their new stadium in August 2018, a move that is set to be confirmed by the end of this week.
“Maybe it will be the last derby but we are playing from the beginning of the season as if it’s the last game at White Hart Lane,” Pochettino said.
“Everyone behaves with an energy that is amazing and you can be sure Sunday is a special game and we will try altogether to win. “We compete against a very good team like Arsenal. They have fantastic players. But all together we can give our best and try to get three points.” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his side were likely to finish the campaign behind Tottenham, but it should not detract from their past achievements.
“You cannot say the weight of one year has the weight of 20,” he said in his news conference yesterday.
“But let’s make sure that the best happens and give absolutely everything to make sure that we finish in a very strong way our season.”
Wenger is yet to announce if he will remain in charge of the side next year, but he denied the uncertainty was having any impact on him or his players.
“There’s no distraction,” the Frenchman said. “What’s important for me in my life is the next game and how well we can prepare, how much we focus on it and how we respond to what is expected from us.”
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur finished third behind Leicester City and Arsenal in the league last season.