Pochettino focused on the title after derby success
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino remains focused solely on the race for the Premier League title, after victory over Arsenal in the last north London derby at White Hart Lane.
Spurs needed to beat their fierce local rivals to keep the gap at four points following leaders Chelsea’s win earlier in the day – and they did just that as the Gunners slipped to a ninth defeat of the season.
After a goalless first half in which Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen missed good chances for the hosts, the former opened the scoring on 55 minutes before Harry Kane converted a penalty just 146 seconds later.
The win means Tottenham will finish ahead of Arsenal for the first time since 1995.
With Tottenham’s new stadium being built around their current home, this marked the last time Arsenal would make the short trip to White Hart Lane – but it was only a day to savour for their hosts.
Arsenal had seen both Manchester United and Manchester City drop points in the race for the top four – but Arsene Wenger’s men could not capitalise.
Although Pochettino has become the first Spurs manager since Gerry Francis to guide his side to finish above Arsenal, the Argentinian was more concerned with the attempt to reel in Chelsea.
“I feel very proud, first of all because the players played their best and they were fantastic,” he said.
“And for our fans, I feel very happy for them. It was a fantastic game and yes, we are in the race for the title. We reduce again the gap to Chelsea.
“Now we have to be focused because we have again on Friday a very important game against West Ham and now it’s important to be focused on that game.
“I am happy as, when you play a derby like Tottenham versus Arsenal, always it is important to win.
“But I have massive respect for him (Arsene Wenger). I admire him for what he is doing at a club like Arsenal and it is a fantastic job.
“I am so happy but our challenge is and our aim is not only to beat Arsenal but also the 19 teams in the Premier League.
“Of course I am very happy but I am so calm as we have four games to play and now is important to be focused and to try to reduce the gap to Chelsea.”
Pochettino revealed his players did not know the result of the Chelsea game (the Blues won 3-0 at Everton) and admitted a tinge of disappointment that the Toffees could not get a result to help Tottenham’s quest.
“I knew (the result) because I was watching. The players didn’t watch because they were focused on the game.
“They were really focused on the game and I think they didn’t realise what happened at Everton. We knew because we were watching but they were very focused.
“Of course I am disappointed because it was a great opportunity to reduce the gap. It is four, with four to play, all is possible in football and we’ll see what happens next week.
“But now its important to feel proud, happy, because the last game against Arsenal and all that means for our fans and those who love Tottenham, it was a fantastic afternoon.
“Yes, of course (we are) disappointed because we have not reduced the gap on Chelsea – but (I am) so proud of the performance of the team and our support.”
Questions will continue to be asked of Wenger following his side’s latest setback, with his relationship with the Arsenal fans remaining fraught despite a recent upturn in form.
The 67-year-old is still yet to announce whether he will sign a new deal to continue as Arsenal boss beyond the end of the season.
He has been in charge for more than 20 years and this is the first time he will have to accept finishing below his closest rivals, conceding Spurs deserve to be where they are in the table.
“Look, the points are the points,” he said.
“They do not come from heaven, you earn them on the pitch. That’s it.
“If I believe or not, the gap is there. That is often in the final part of the season, that can go one way or the other without really reflecting the difference between the teams.”
Wenger has also never finished outside of the top four in any full season at the helm, but his side now face an uphill battle to secure Champions League qualification with an FA Cup final date with Chelsea potentially offering some solace.
They welcome fifth-placed United to the Emirates Stadium next Sunday and are currently five points behind Jose Mourinho’s side with City a point further ahead in fourth.
“It will be very difficult now, but we have to fight,” he added.
“We have a cup final, we have still a chance to get into the top four and we have to recover from today and prepare for our next games.”