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Mauricio Pochettino dismisses 'silly' 'St Totteringham's Day'

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that Tottenham will play their home games at Wembley for the duration of the 2017-18 season.

 Mauricio Pochettino (file pic).
Mauricio Pochettino (file pic).

MAURICIO POCHETTINO TAKES no heart from the possibility of ending Arsenal’s “St Totteringham’s Day” celebrations and insists title-chasing Tottenham should not define themselves in comparison to their north London rivals.

Tottenham host the Gunners on Sunday as the only remaining challengers to Premier League frontrunners Chelsea, lying four points behind Antonio Conte’s men.

This is where Pochettino wants Spurs’ focus to lie, not on the fact that victory against Arsenal on Sunday would guarantee a higher finish in the table than their neighbours for the first time in 22 seasons.

Arsenal supporters mockingly refer to the day when it is mathematically impossible for Tottenham to finish above them in the table as St Totteringham’s Day, although the joke would be on them if Pochettino’s men win this weekend to go 17 points better off.

This, for me, is not a motivation. The motivation for me is to win because it’s a derby and I know what it means to play a derby,” Pochettino told a pre-match news conference.

“It’s not a motivation, that thing you explained now to me. My motivation is to win, my motivation is to try to win with Tottenham some titles, my motivation is that my players every day can improve and show that we are better than our opponents.

“I really don’t care about that silly celebration that you explain now to me.

The advantage is that my English is so bad and I don’t read too much or listen too much. We are here to try to help this club achieve things — to be better every day, to be better every season.

Pochettino is delighted with Tottenham’s efforts this season but insists finishing above Arsenal would not be a consolation if they fail to deny Chelsea Premier League glory.

“My feeling is now, when you are so close, only four points [behind] — only, but it is massive when there are only five games to play — I will be very disappointed if we don’t win the title,” he added.

In that moment I will start to think of all the good things that have happened this season and then be realistic in analysing the season.

“I really don’t think in which position is Arsenal. Our focus is to try and win every game and try to win the Premier League. Then we will have time to be happy and different things that make our fans happy.

We are professional. It is important for us to think for ourselves, to try to achieve our aim and don’t think about what happens next to us with our opponent.”

Midfielder Mousa Dembele will be assessed before the derby having sustained an ankle injury at Crystal Palace.

Left-back Danny Rose (knee) is stepping up his work in training but will be unavailable, although back-up goalkeeper Michel Vorm (knee) returned to training with the Spurs squad on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it’s been confirmed that Tottenham will play their home games at Wembley for the duration of the 2017-18 season while construction is completed on a new stadium at White Hart Lane, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Spurs had until 30 April to take up the option of playing at England’s national stadium after Wembley National Stadium Limited’s proposal to stage 22 additional full-capacity events was granted by Brent council last month.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side now face the prospect of playing in front of bumper crowds at the 90,000 capacity venue, although Tottenham’s record when playing at Wembley in European competition this year is likely to cause some apprehension.

They bowed out in the group stages of the Champions League, following home losses to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, and were then dumped out of the Europa League by Belgian side Gent. Last weekend, Spurs also lost 4-2 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at the venue.

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