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Historic finish not on Pochettino’s mind ahead of Arsenal clash

Spurs can end 22 years of ribbing from Arsenal supporters on Sunday, but that is the least of manager Mauricio Pochettino's concerns.
Manchester United-Tottenham

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino
Dylan MartinezREUTERS

Tottenham Hotspur can bring 22 years of mockery from Arsenal supporters to an end if they beat their arch rivals on Sunday, but the constant ribbing for manager Mauricio Pochettino, is the very least of his concerns.

Spurs eyeing historic Premier League finish

Arsenal have finished above Spurs every season since 1994-95 but Pochettino’s side will finish above the Gunners if they beat them at White Hart Lane. However that is not something which is playing on the Argentine coach’s mind - with leaders Chelsea currently just four points above them, Pochettino has his heart set on toppling Antonio Conte's side.

"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”, Pochettino said on the eve of the game.

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Dylan MartinezREUTERS

Memories of last season still fresh for Spurs

St Totteringham's Day arrived in cruel fashion last season, after Spurs had emerged as the closest rivals to eventual champions Leicester City. They needed victory at relegated Newcastle United on the final day to secure second place, but capitulated to a humiliating 5-1 defeat, enabling Arsenal to pip them after a 4-0 home win over Aston Villa.

Sunday's game will be especially poignant for the home fans as it is due to be the final north London derby played at White Hart Lane. Spurs will play their home games at Wembley next season before moving into their new home, which is being built on the site of their current stadium, in August 2018.

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen
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Tottenham's Christian EriksenMatthew ChildsREUTERS

"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 explained. "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."

It could also, potentially, be Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger's final north London derby, amid ongoing uncertainty about his future at the club. The Frenchman has previously overseen 49 of these encounters, winning 22 and losing only seven.

Arsenal have been buoyed by victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend and a late 1-0 win at home to Leicester in mid-week. They lie five points off the Champions League places in sixth place, but with a game in hand, and their cause was helped by Thursday's 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Manchester United.

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Spurs are 14 points ahead of them, having played a game more, but Wenger gave short shrift to talk of a shift in power. "You cannot say that the weight of one year has the weight of 20," he said.

"The priority for us is to finish in the top four. After that, for the pride and the continuity or our achievements, yes we want to fight to be in front of Spurs. We have to focus on what is really important to us at this moment, which is to finish in the top four”.


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