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Conte says Spurs season has been ‘a great success’ regardless of UCL qualification ahead of ‘vital’ derby

Antonio Conte says the North London derby is a must-win game for Tottenham but says the club’s season has been ‘a great success’ regardless of Champions League qualification.

Tottenham host Arsenal in a huge clash on Thursday evening, with the visiting Gunners knowing a win will secure their place in the top four and Champions League football for next season.

 

Spurs are four points behind Arsenal at present and need to win to keep alive their ambitions of overhauling their North London rivals, with Conte admitting the clash is a ‘vital game’ in his side’s season.

“These are important games for the table, first of all,” Conte told Sky Sports. “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.”

Conte spoke on the importance of his squad controlling their ’emotions’ during the derby clash, insisting a cool head is required in order to secure a positive result.

“This is a game with great emotion, we have to try and control our emotions, arriving to this game with your head very cool will also be very important,” Conte added. “But you also have to enjoy these types of games.

“We worked very hard to have this type of game and, for this reason, it will be very important to enjoy but at the same time do everything to get three points.”

Defeat for Spurs will end their hopes of Champions League qualification, but Conte insists his side should not solely be judged on a top four finish.

The Italian believes his team have made notable strides since his arrival in November and says missing out on Europe’s elite should not deem their campaign a failure.

“This is not a question for me, it’s a question maybe for the club,” he added. “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.”

Read – Famous Fours: Five times Premier League players scored four

Read Also – Five of the best North London derby goals in the Premier League era

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