Mauricio Pochettino spoke of his pride and delight at Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory at home against Arsenal in the north London derby and insisted that he remained in the Premier League title race, despite the “disappointment” of seeing leaders Chelsea on at Everton earlier in the day.
Chelsea travel to Goodison Park had looked like the toughest assignment of your implementation, but climbed to a 3-0 victory – in the back of the second-half goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill and Willian – and he had the manager, Antonio Conte, celebrating wildly on the pitch at full-time.
Dele Alli helps Spurs eclipse Arsenal and stay on Chelsea’s tail
Tottenham were asked to respond and did so in the last derby of north London in the “old” White Hart Lane. They seemed to want the result more than Arsenal and they got it thanks to goals from Dele Alli and Harry Kane.
They sit four points behind Chelsea with four games to go and visit West Ham United on Friday night, before Chelsea entertain Middlesbrough on the Monday of the week.
Pochettino knows that his team could reduce the gap to a single point and he agreed that might be able to ramp up the pressure on Chelsea ahead of their fixture with Middlesbrough. “Could be, could be,” Pochettino said. “It will be a difficult game, but, if we’re able to win, let’s see what happens.
“The players should be proud of the performance against Arsenal. Of course, I’m disappointed, because it was a great opportunity to reduce the gap. Is four points, but everything is possible in football. I am very proud and pleased with the performance of the team and our support. We are in the race for the title and now we have to be focused on the West Ham game.”
Conte saw his team Chelsea end Everton’s run of eight consecutive wins at home and took the perfect week for him, when it mattered most. Chelsea had beaten Tottenham in the FA Cup semi‑final last Saturday, and then Southampton in the league on Tuesday.
“This was a vital week for us, and we finished very well,” Conte said. “We all know that there is a part of the season that is more important and is now. Victory against Everton is not easy, and it was a great result, but we must continue on this path – go step-by-step. If we don’t win against Middlesbrough, then we lose this great victory.
“We showed a lot of enthusiasm and great patience. We are having a great season, but, to become in a fantastic season, we must win [the title]. What I say to my players after? The message was not in words, but hugs.”
Chelsea close in on the title as Peter sparks resounding victory against Everton
Tottenham’s victory ensured that they will finish above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years, despite the fact Pochettino was unconcerned by the achievement. He has broad objectives – mainly, the desire to pursue Chelsea.
Arsène Wenger could lament the poor defending of the goals his team conceded, and, in general, the shyness.
“We’ve played a little with a restricted attitude and I felt we lacked a little bit of freedom to play, and the desire to hurt more than we did,” the Arsenal manager said. “We’ve had shots of opportunities in the first half and did not take well not with enough conviction and not with sufficient determination.
“On the first goal, it seemed that they were not in number. We had six vs. two or three. It was soft defense. Then, we immediately recognized a soft penalty and a 2-0 win was a shock.”
Tottenham is 17 points ahead of their neighbours, and Wenger was asked if it was a true reflection of the gap between the clubs.
“Look, the points are the points,” he replied. “They do not come from the sky. They earn on the pitch. It will be very difficult for us to finish among the top four, but we have to fight.”