Jose Mourinho says his ambitions are far greater than simply being the best side in north London amid Arsenal and Spurs’ ongoing struggles this season.
Tottenham‘s hopes of securing a top-four finish and Champions League qualification were all but ended following a 3-1 defeat a Bramall Lane on Thursday night, Spurs now 12 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea with just six games of the season remaining.
That defeat – coupled with Arsenal‘s win at Norwich a day earlier – saw Tottenham fall behind their north London rivals in the Premier League table, though Mourinho insists his ambitions are far greater than simply finishing above the Gunners.
“To be honest, to be the champions of North London means nothing to me,” the Spurs boss told his pre-match press conference ahead of the club’s clash with Everton tonight. “I think you must be bigger than that and have much more ambition than that.
“But I always look to the rivals of my clubs with different eyes. I have been at so many different big clubs, with so many special rivals, so I don’t hide that for me Arsenal at this moment is a very special rival.
“I understand that for the fans it is a special rivalry and what is special for the fans is special for me. And I want it to be also special for the players. So, yes, I would like to finish in a better position than them.
“But, again, I want my team to be bigger than that. I want my club to feel bigger than that.”
Arsenal had aimed a not so subtle dig at Spurs’ defeat to Chris Wilder’s side, posting highlights of their own victory in South Yorkshire earlier this season, with the tagline ‘It’s not easy beating Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Here’s a reminder of how it’s done’.
Mourinho, however, believes their rival’s glee at his side’s misfortune is an indication of their own current plight, before issuing an ominous warning to the Gunners ahead of the north London derby between the sides next weekend.
“I think if they were top of the League or fighting for top four and in a really good moment they wouldn’t enjoy the problems of the others,” Mourinho said in response to the post.
“You only enjoy the problems of the others when you are also in trouble. So I think in the end it’s a little more about that. They don’t have much to celebrate, so they have to take any opportunity to do it. They are in a very similar situation to what we are in the table.
“I don’t like to connect the club with such posts or tweets because probably the person who did it did it by himself. I don’t believe it was (Mikel) Arteta who posted it, probably it was some guy who has been working from home for three months. No problem, at home we will be waiting for them.”
Following tonight’s game against Everton, Spurs travel to Bournemouth in midweek before hosting Mikel Arteta’s side next Sunday.