Fin­ish­ing first is the sole goal for Po­chet­tino

Be­ing above Arse­nal will not be a con­so­la­tion if ti­tle goes to Chelsea

The National - News - Sport - - PREMIERLEAGUE -

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.”

Ben Stansall / AFP

Un­der Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur fin­ished third be­hind Le­ices­ter City and Arse­nal in the league last sea­son.

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