EPL

'You speak about Tottenham failure?' – Conte points to Man Utd struggles ahead of must-win Arsenal clash

By Sports Desk May 11, 2022

Antonio Conte acknowledged Tottenham must defeat Arsenal on Thursday, but rubbished questions over his team's success as he cited the struggles of Manchester United.

Spurs were languishing in ninth in the Premier League when Conte was appointed in November as the successor to Nuno Espirito Santo, who lasted just 17 league games at the club.

The Italian manager has overseen a change in fortunes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with his side sitting fifth – four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who they host on Thursday.

Victory for Mikel Arteta's visitors would secure Champions League football next season, while a win for Tottenham would cut the Gunners' lead to just a point with two games left to play.

However, Conte told Sky Sports he does not believe qualification for the Champions League should be the defining factor of a successful campaign.

"This is not a question for me, it's a question maybe for the club," said Conte, who has won just one of his eight meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (D4 L3). 

"I don't know if the club's aspiration at the start was to fight for a place in the Champions League, honestly.

"To have only three games to go and to have the possibility to get a place in the Champions League, for us it means we have worked very hard and worked very well with my players.

"I don't think many people could imagine since my arrival that Tottenham could fight for a place in the Champions League. But with the great work of my players we are in a position where we can fight for a big achievement.

"When I arrived this team was ninth. I don't think the club was targeting a place in the Champions League, maybe in the Europa Conference League or Europa League, but we know very well in England that there is no easy game and to finish the season in a good place is not simple.

"There are many teams… Manchester United finished last season second and added players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane and maybe they can finish sixth or seventh, and you speak about Tottenham failure?

"I think this season is a great success, especially for the relationship created with the players and the achievement we have reached in my time here, but the job isn't finished, we have to finish this job."

Spurs are unbeaten in their last seven home league games against Arsenal (W5 D2), their longest such run against their north London rivals since a run of nine between 1960 and 1968.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are looking to complete their first league double over Tottenham since the 2013-14 campaign, after a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium in September.

With the stakes so high for a spot at Europe's top table next term, Conte called for calm in the heat of the battle with Spurs' fierce rivals.

"These are important games for the table, first of all," he said. "It's a vital game for us because if we want to continue having an opportunity to play in the Champions League we need three points, we need to win. There is no other solution for us. 

"I also know very well the importance of this game. It's a north London derby, I understand the rivalry between the two teams very well, but the first thing for us is that we have to try and win and get three points for the table, and then because we want to give satisfaction to our fans.

"The game against Arsenal is an important game, it's a north London derby, it's important for the rivalry between the two teams, but the most important thing is the three points.

"With three points, it means we go very close to them and put pressure on them."

Should Arteta's side triumph, Arsenal will secure their highest Premier League finish since the 2015-16 campaign when they finished second. It will also be the first time since that season that they have finished above their north London rivals Tottenham.

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    The glitz and glamour of a Champions League final was far from Klopp's mind in that campaign when in his fourth season in charge of Mainz. The 2004-05 season was just as memorable for the German club's supporters as Liverpool's, though, as they finished 11th in what was their first top-flight campaign.

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