Would it be unbearable for Arsenal to win at your stadium, just how important is this game?
We are talking about an important game for many different situations. The first, and most important thing is, we’re playing this game for an important target – a place in the Champions League. I think this has to be the first reason to win this game, and for sure we know very well the importance for our fans of this north London derby. This is the first time that Tottenham is playing this game in their home stadium with fans. We know this.
But at the same time, my players I continue to tell them that we have to enjoy this moment. Because to arrive with three games to go, with an important target like a place in the Champions League, it means we’re doing a good job. The job is not finished. We have to try to get three points on Thursday against Arsenal. It won’t be easy because we’re talking about a good, well organised team.
Arteta is doing a really good job. He’s been in charge for two and a half years. He had the possibility to work, to improve his team. But at the same time to stay in this position for us, at this moment of the season, has to give us a big push to try to get three points on Thursday.
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Are there any fresh injury concerns?
No, the situation is the same as the last game and the game before Liverpool. Reguilon is not available and I don’t think he can recover. There’s only 10 days to go. We are with the same players that faced Liverpool.
What did you make of Jurgen Klopp’s comments and who do you want to win the league?
Anyone who knows me, knows very well I want to win every game. I try to transfer this thought to my players. For sure, when I stay in one team, in a club, my aspiration and desire is to fight to win the title. To win the league in England is not simple, it’s easy. Guardiola said Liverpool won one league in 30 years, maybe. It shows it’s not simple.
Maybe sometimes it’s easier to win Champions League or Europa League or other competitions than the league in England, where you have to face monsters. But after the game against Liverpool, the good answer I had was that my players were disappointed at the end of the game because they felt the possibility to win the game.
We analysed the game the day after, and for sure if there was a team that deserved to win and created the chances to win, it was Tottenham not Liverpool. In this game, I think Klopp understood he gained one point not lost two points. Jurgen is an intelligent person, he’s very clever. He was a bit frustrated after the game.
At the same time, for us, for a top coach and for every coach, it’s important to learn that after the game it’s important to be focused on your team, not your opponent. To be focused on your opponent, it means you want to find an excuse or alibi because your job didn’t work or something was wrong.
Is it frustrating to not have played this match when it was meant to be in January?
To speak now about what happened in the past is not useful. For sure, it was very strange that our game was postponed for Covid and Arsenal didn’t have one player with Covid. We lost a game 3-0 [to Rennes] because Premier League didn’t want to move our game when we had 9 or 10 players with Covid.
At that time, it was unfair what happened, but now this is the past and we have to be focussed on the present and try to get the best result. I think this could be a good chance for us to get three points against their whole team because if we played in January they were without many players because they were committed at the African Cup [of Nations] and injuries. I think football is wonderful. Also this type of game it’s right to play with two teams and all the players available.
Would it feel like a failure personally if Spurs miss out on the Champions League after getting into a good position?
Personally, in my mind, when I decided to be in charge with Tottenham, I knew very well at the time the situation in front of me. The team was maybe ninth in the table, only 15 points and but in these 15 points, nine in the first three games and then six in the next seven games.
I knew very well the situation wasn’t good and only a crazy person could imagine that with two games to go we’d be in the race for a place in the Champions League. The club didn’t ask me to go for a place in the Champions League or Europa League. They appointed me to try to improve the situation.
Now we have to be proud that after a difficult season in many aspects for the club, we’re in this race. In my opinion, in my mind, it’s always a failure when I don’t win, because I’m used to fighting for something important, to have a chance, yes to have a chance to compete with other teams to win trophies and titles.
But when I arrived in Tottenham, I was sure it was very very difficult the situation. I tried to improve, not tried, I worked, I worked very hard (laughs) with my staff and my players to improve the team and to create something, to create a base and I think that we did this.
Were you surprised when you heard what Klopp had said?
Honestly, for the coach it’s not simple, it’s not easy after the game. You have to try to keep a cool head. Sometimes it’s not easy or simple. If you remember this season I was disappointed for a bad result and I was disappointed with myself, with my players. When we lost against Burnley and (laughs) if you remember I gave to myself the fault about the defeat.
Sometimes we’re a bit frustrated, especially when you arrive at the end of the season and you understand that a bad game and a bad result can change the target for you.
But I repeat, I have great respect for Jurgen and I know that he respects me a lot. This is a good chance for him, for me and all the coaches to learn that during the game you never speak about your opponents. It’s important to be focused on your team and the situations where you can maybe do better. You speak about your own problems.
Is Ryan Sessegnon now starting to believe in himself with these performances in big matches against Liverpool and Manchester City?
Ryan is a player that has great potential. Physically he is really strong and it’s very difficult to beat him in one v one. Defensively he has reached an important level, because he showed great attention during the game. In every game he has showed this, for sure he has to improve when we have the ball, because for me wing-backs are very important. Against Liverpool we had situations where the last pass, if we….I think we can improve in this aspect.
Ryan is a young player and is having a good performance. These type of performances have to give him confidence in himself. We are talking about a young player with a great space for improvement. In the past injury has stopped his growth but now he is in good form and playing really well. I’m happy for him because he’s a really good guy and he works very hard.
How has your team changed since January?
I think now we are a team with more organisation in the tactical and physical aspect. Now for sure this team has more football knowledge and at that time, I arrived in November and in only one month we tried to give a lot of information to the players. But you need to have a process with the players to understand your football, what you want, to improve the mentality, also the physical aspect. We had time to improve and to be a team stronger now than the past.
How far is there to go to what you want this team to be?
It depends on the target. I have only to say thanks to my players. This seven months they have shown me great commitment and great behaviour and to be involved in 120% in everything I gave them. I have to say thanks to them. If now we are in this position and we have the possibility to fight for a place in the Champions League it means the players improved a lot and they made an important step forward. For sure there is space for improvement but you have to know for which target you have to play.
Do you have any complaints at the quick turnaround to the Burnley game afterwards?
(Laughs) If I complain about it, I’m like other coaches in the past. You remember when Arteta complained about this type of situation and I said coaches shouldn’t complain. Now could be my turn to complain because to play on Thursday night and then again the first game (on Sunday), you could play on Sunday and wait and give us the last game and a bit more rest.
It’s difficult sometimes to accept Premier League decisions, but if the club accepted it I have to. A top club have to pay attention to the fixtures. Before the game you don’t think this situation can cause you this type of trouble, but afterwards you realise it could affect the result and you are angry and it’s too late. You need to be angry before. The club has to pay more attention. If you want to win you have to take care about all the details because the details move the final result.
Source by Football London