Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be gutted if Tottenham Hotspur do not win Premier League title, but has eyes on beating Arsenal
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Spurs boss adamant his side can catch leaders Chelsea ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby
Mauricio Pochettino says he will be “very disappointed” if Tottenham don’t win the Premier League title this season, stating he is far more concerned about the gap to Chelsea than Spurs’ lead ahead of Arsenal.
The Lilywhites are 14 points in front of the Gunners and are poised to finish ahead of their bitter local foes for the first time in 22 years.
Indeed, they can finish the job this weekend by winning Sunday’s north London derby. But, while Pochettino recognises the importance of the rivalry, he is adamant his side have bigger fish to fry and are looking up the table rather than down.
“I completely understand but I am so honest and my feeling is now, when you are so close, with only four points the gap – ‘only’ but it’s massive when there’s only five games to play - I will be very disappointed if we don’t win the title,” said the Argentinian.
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“In that moment I will start thinking of all the good things that happened this season and be realistic, to assess and analyse the season. But I really don’t think about Arsenal’s position.
“My view, my feeling, is our focus is on trying to win every game and trying to win the Premier League. Then we’ll see.
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“It’s sure we’ll have time [after the season] to be happy for different things that make our fans happy. But as we’re professional it’s important for us to give our best and try to be ourselves, to try to think for ourselves and achieve our aims and don’t see what happens next to us with our opponent.
“I repeat: my challenge or my aim is not to be above Arsenal. My aim is to be above 19 teams and to be the first, to be on the top. That is my challenge, my aim, my dream. I don’t care what happens with Arsenal.
“It’s important - but with all my respect - to care what happens with us, to care about ourselves and try to win every game and try to be the best.”
Sunday’s north London derby is expected to be the last ever at White Hart Lane, with Tottenham aiming to demolish their stadium this summer – and Pochettino believes that factor will help his side, as it has done throughout the campaign.
“Maybe it will be the last but we’ve been playing from the beginning of the season like it’s the last game at White Hart Lane - the atmosphere, the players, the fans, everyone behaved with an amazing energy,” said the manager. “You can feel that.
“It’s sure that Sunday is special for everyone and we will try altogether to win. It’s sure that we compete against a very good team in Arsenal - they have fantastic players. But altogether we can give our best and try to get the three points.”
League leaders Chelsea are in action a few hours before Tottenham on Sunday, visiting seventh-placed Everton in their toughest remaining fixture – and Pochettino admits he will awaiting the result with interest as he gears up for the showdown with Arsenal.
“You cannot ignore the game,” he said. “But against Crystal Palace we played the day after Chelsea, and it didn’t affect our preparation. That’s the maturity we got, and we learned, from last season. Now we’re focused on winning games.
“You cannot change the past, if they play before. Anything that happens cannot affect us. We need to be ready to give our best, as we did against Crystal Palace.
“It’s sure that I will have all the information [about Chelsea’s match] but I think the players are so focused on trying to perform well.
“Our energy must be on playing, giving our best, and the players will be in a moment, in their bubble, preparing for the game.”
Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele’s fitness will be assessed ahead of the derby after the Belgian suffered an ankle injury during Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, but left-back Danny Rose will definitely miss out again.
“He’s a little bit involved [in training], he’s not 100 per cent involved with the team,” said Pochettino. “We need to assess him every day. Still he’s not ready.”
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