Spurs boss: Derbies against West Ham and Arsenal are more important than Premier League points
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino says this week’s derbies against London rivals West Ham and Arsenal are more important than Premier League points due to the rivalries between the clubs.
Spurs travel to the Hammers’ Upton Park ground for the last time tomorrow evening (Wednesday) before their home game against the Gunners on Saturday.
It looks like an important week for the Lilywhites in the title race but Pochettino is also fully aware of the importance of local pride.
“First of all it’s a very important game [tomorrow] because it’s a derby and you cannot split the emotion with the game,” he said.
“It’s not only three points, it means a lot more than three points because every time you play a derby like West Ham and Arsenal it’s more important for our supporters – and we feel the same as our supporters.
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“I think it’s impossible to speak about this being a decisive week. I think we have ahead a lot of important games and weeks, but it means a lot to take three points at Upton Park and then to play against Arsenal at home and try to win the three points there too.
“I think you know, our supporters know and the teams knows that it means a little bit more than only three points.”
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Pochettino added: “I think it’s exciting to play derbies, it’s a good thing. We have players that are very strong, that have a very strong mentality and they are excited to play, not only in the derbies but every game.
“When they put on the shirt to play and defend our badge, this is one of the things this season that we can feel – that our supporters feel very proud of our team, of our players.
“We only need to be focused on West Ham now and ensure we suffer as lot to win the game because they have very good players.
“The way they play, it’s always difficult, and it’s a derby and the conditions will be difficult because the pitch is not so good, and the way we play, maybe it can affect us more than them.
“But we need to be strong. If we want to achieve big things we need to go tomorrow and try to show that we are better, and the conditions are not important.”
Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has stated that, in his view, Tottenham are the favourites for the title.
Pochettino responded: “We start to play a lot, too early in the season. I think we’re in a good place but for us it’s always the same – to try to win the next game.
“You know, for me, they’re on top and they have the pressure too, like all the teams that are below. But we don’t feel that. It’s only important to keep our level, our fitness, our mentality and we’ll see what happens. It’s too soon to speak about the end of the season.
“It [Ranieiri’s comments] was a joke, I laughed a little bit. It’s good to play a little bit like this and joke but, if you remember last season and the end of the season, our objective [this time] was clear – to reduce the gap with the teams that were on the top.
“I think we’ve learned a lot and improved and we only need to fight in every game and keep the same mentality. It’s clear we’re in a very good position but there’s till 11 games ahead to play.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs