Antonio Conte calls for calm ahead of Tottenham’s North London derby that defines the season | Football news

“Since my arrival, I don’t think many people have imagined that Tottenham could fight for a place in the Champions League.”

When Antonio Conte took the lead at Tottenham in November 2021, with the club languishing in ninth place in the Premier League after weaknesses in the early season, securing football in the Champions League was, he says, unthinkable.

But to hand over that most desirable prize to a rival Arsenal, in your own backyard? Well, that’s the really unimaginable prospect that the Spurs will try to avoid in the postponed North London derby on Thursday, live Sky Sports.

Conte and Spurs have three games to reverse the Gunners ’current four-point deficit and book a ticket to the European elite club competition to the detriment of their big rivals.

A win at Tottenham Hotspur will reduce Arsenal’s advantage by two games, and the defeat of Mikel Arteta will secure the red half of north London a place at the top of European football for the first time in five seasons.

Rarely does the North London derby take on so much importance, which is why Conte tried to shift Tottenham’s rivalry with Arsenal, and everything that comes with it, to one side. With so much at stake, laser focus is needed.

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Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says he wants his players to ‘enjoy the moment’ of the North London derby and use it as a big boost to win against Arsenal

“These are first and foremost important table matches,” Conte said exclusively Sky Sports. “This is a vital game for us because if we want to still have a chance to play in the Champions League we need three points, we have 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 very well the rivalry between the two teams, but the first thing for us is to try to win and win three points for the table, and then because we want to please our fans.

“The game against Arsenal is an important game, it’s the North London derby, it’s important for the rivalry between the two teams, but the most important are three points. With three points, it means we go very close to them and put pressure on them.”

Conte is no stranger to the risks and rewards that only a derby day can offer.

His famous playing and managerial career led him to the forefront and center of the biggest games in Turin, Milan and London, where his two-season reign as Chelsea boss pitted him against the club he now manages.

It is these experiences that he will rely on as he tries to strike the perfect balance before tasting the North London edition for the first time.

Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

Start at 19:45

“This is a game with great emotions, we have to try to control our emotions, it will also be very important to come to this game with a cool head,” Conte added. “But you have to enjoy games like this.

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

As for whether qualifying for the Champions League will be the only deciding factor for the success or failure of his first season at Tottenham, this is one of the few questions Conte has shifted to his chain of command.

“This is not a question for me, it is a question maybe for the club,” he added. “I don’t know if the club’s aspiration at the beginning was to fight for a place in the Champions League, honestly.

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“Having only three games until the end and having the opportunity to win a place in the Champions League, for us it means that we worked very hard and worked very well with my players.

“I don’t think many people since my arrival could have imagined 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 great achievement.”

“When I arrived this team was ninth. I don’t think the club was aiming for a place in the Champions League, maybe in the European Conference League or the European League, but in England we know very well that there is no easy game and finishing the season in a good place is not easy.

“There are a lot of teams … Manchester United finished second last season and added players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane and maybe they can finish sixth or seventh, and you’re talking about Tottenham’s failure?

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Tottenham manager Antonio Conte said Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp should focus on his team and not make excuses for the two-side draw 1-1

“I think this season has been a great success, especially for the relationship we’ve created with the players and the achievement we’ve achieved in my time here, but the job isn’t done, we have to finish this job.”

Conte’s assessment reflects that of the consensus in north London. For many, Tottenham’s transformation under the Italians, their rise from the depths immersed under Nuno Espirito Santo, represents a success that can only be improved over the last three games of the season, not diminished.

While he may be playing a statesman in public, you can be sure that contestant Conte won’t want to leave this season’s feats open to interpretation. Therefore, if he and his players ensure that nothing is left to the case when Tottenham and Arsenal are fighting for the 191st time this Thursday, it is best to advise you to always be one eye in the dugout.

Tottenham’s remaining matches PL

Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

Start at 19:45

May 12 – Arsenal (h), live on Sky Sports

May 15 – Burnley (h)

May 22 – Norwich (a)

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