Tottenham manager Pochettino urges team to ignore Arsenal squabble

London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham must start dreaming about bigger goals than finishing above Arsenal if they want to win the Premier League next season.

Despite losing 2-1 against Southampton on Sunday, Pochettino’s side are still on course to end the season ahead of hated neighbours Arsenal for the first time in 21 years.

Tottenham are two points ahead of Arsenal with a vastly superior goal difference.

That means they need only avoid defeat in their last game of the season next Sunday at lowly Newcastle to end the ‘St Totteringham’s Day’ celebration by Arsenal fans each year their club are certain to finish above Tottenham.

With Arsenal hosting relegated Aston Villa next weekend, Tottenham can’t afford to take anything for granted at St James’ Park, but they should claim north London supremacy for the first time since 1995 and finish as top-flight runners-up for the first time since 1963.

However, Pochettino is adamant he doesn’t care about parochial squabbles with Arsenal because he is focused on grander plans.

“I don’t care about Arsenal. I want to win the league, I want to be on the top,” Pochettino said.

“I understand why our supporters want to finish above them. But we need to create our own ideas and philosophy, then in the end we will be above Arsenal. 

“To try to improve we want to look at ourselves and be bigger and not care about our neighbours. 

“We need to spend our energy to win important games. I don’t care what happens with our rivals. 

“Arsenal and Chelsea are the same to me. We want to be above them all.”

– Fatal flaw –

Tottenham’s winless streak extended to three matches after two goals from Southampton midfielder Steven Davis erased Son Heung-Min’s opener at White Hart Lane, leaving Pochettino to ponder what areas of his team need to improve to make up the gap to champions Leicester.

Still reeling after squandering a two-goal at Chelsea last Monday to gift the title to Leicester, Tottenham were a shadow of their dynamic best and there is still an outside chance of finishing third in what had been a two-horse title race.

But Pochettino is already certain he knows what needs to change to win a first title since 1961 and the Argentine highlighted a lack of killer instinct as a fatal flaw this year.

“We need to analyse the last few games and how we need to improve our squad and different areas of the team,” he said.

“If we want to win the league next season we need to improve. We are very good on the ball. Maybe we need to be more aggressive and kill the games earlier. 

“We are young and I’m proud of the players but we still need to be critical of ourselves to improve. 

“I’m very clear on the areas we need to improve and how. That doesn’t mean we need to add players. 

“The players can improve tactically, be more clinical and aggressive in front of goal.”

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has now beaten every Premier League team since taking charge in 2014 and the Dutchman’s reward for one of their best performances this season could be a place in the Europa League. 

Koeman’s side are up to sixth place and a win at home to Crystal Palace next week would secure their best ever points total in the division and, probable European qualification depending on other results. 

“In terms of ball possession Tottenham are the best in the Premier League, but we showed belief and controlled the second half,” Koeman said. 

“It’s a great win and a big achievement. We know our situation. We need one more win. 

“We like to play in Europe. It’s important for the club and the players. We spoke about a special season last year but this one would be even better.”

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