Jose Mourinho not only wants to qualify for the Europa League, he wants the trophy, while Mikel Arteta was still positive despite Tottenham beating his Arsenal side 2-1.
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The north London derby was an open, entertaining encoutner as Spurs battled back from Alexandre Lacazette’s superb opener to win as Heung-min Son equalized and Toby Alderweireld won it late on.
ProSoccerTalk spoke to both managers after the game and although Mourinho admitted he doesn’t ‘love the Europa League’ he is desperate to finish sixth and get in it.
Mourinho also reminded everyone that he’s only played in the Europa League twice in his career but he’s won it twice and said “it wouldn’t be bad to play in it a third time and win it a third time.”
Why does he think the Europa League would be beneficial to Tottenham next season?
“Europa League isn’t the biggest competition in Europe, but it is the second biggest. When a club wins Champions Leagues, or a player wins Champions Leagues, or a manager wins Champions Leagues, then the Europa League feeling… if you ask Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula 3000, or whatever you call it, I don’t think it would be a great deal for him,” Mourinho smiled.
“But, it is a competition. I prefer to play Europa League than not to play. I think it is a title that Tottenham would obviously like to get. For example, at Manchester United, of course United is a club with a dimension that thinks about Champions League but when I was there we had to play Europa League and we won Europa League. So, I think we have to do everything possible to play in the Europa League next season and we have to fight for that.”
Tottenham are three points off sixth with three games to go and have an easier schedule than most of the teams around them, as they play Newcastle, Leicester and Crystal Palace. The battle for sixth, and seventh, will be intense as teams scramble to qualify for the Europa League.
As for Arsenal, who are in a straight fight with Tottenham for sixth place and the Europa League places, we asked Mikel Arteta if he was still positive they are on the right track despite the defeat at Spurs.
“Yes, if we minimize the mistakes that we do and keep playing like that we are going to win many, many, many football games because we are going to make it really, really difficult for the opponent. I am sure of that,” a positive Arteta said. “But these two aspects, one has to be maintained and the other one has to be avoided. It’s on us. They believe in what they are doing. You can see how they are trying, how they are going. It is a shame because if you are able to win that well in such a big ground and such a big stage like today, it gives you a big belief. I am gutted for the players because they really tried.”
The north London derby was a tight clash between Mourinho and Arteta and it underlined that both teams have a long, long way to go to become top four contenders.
Defensively Tottenham were slightly better and that is why they won the north London derby. But this was more about Arsenal giving Tottenham the win due to their defensive mistakes rather that Spurs totally earning it.