Football

Pochettino wants revenge over Arsenal

Spurs boss hopes a win over Arsenal will make up for finishing below arch-rivals last season

ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM

(Tonight, 7.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 
& StarHub TV Ch 228 - Eleven Plus HD)

Mauricio Pochettino admits it still hurts to think about Arsenal finishing above Tottenham last season.

Spurs were five points clear of the Gunners with three games left and needed only a draw on the final day to finish above their rivals for the first time since 1995.

Pochettino's men crumbled, however, slipping to a 5-1 defeat by already-relegated Newcastle, while Arsenal hammered Aston Villa to snatch second place.

The two foes go head to head again at the Emirates Stadium tonight and Pochettino admits last season's collapse still rankles.

"I still feel bad about last season," Pochettino said.

"It was so easy to be above Arsenal in that moment. It's true that we felt very disappointed after the Chelsea game but, with two games ahead and only one point (needed) to be above them, that was very frustrating and disappointing.

"It was difficult to not think about that situation. But we have another opportunity now and we will see what happens."

Despite their disappointing finish, Tottenham pushed Leicester in the title race last season, but it is Arsenal who start as favourites tonight.

While Spurs have struggled for form and fluency in recent weeks - they are winless in six games since beating Manchester City so impressively last month - Arsene Wenger's men have hit their stride with 10 victories out of 11.

Pochettino confirmed that striker Harry Kane will be fit to play some part in tonight's game.

The England striker has been out for nearly seven weeks with an ankle problem, but Pochettino said it would "not be a risk" for the 23-year-old to feature in some capacity.

Kane has scored four goals in three league games against the Gunners and netted in both league fixtures last season.

"Always it is important to have Harry Kane," Pochettino said.

"In the last few seasons, he has been very important for us.

"He was the top scorer in the Premier League (last season) and always the player who is top scorer in the EPL is important for any club.

"It is true he has a good record against Arsenal. It is important he is back and can help the team get a good result."

While Arsenal beat Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League in midweek, Spurs' latest outing in European club football's elite tournament was a lacklustre 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley.

"We were poor, we can't play that way against Arsenal," Pochettino said.

"We need to be calm. When you have a period when you don't win games, you need to be calm."

Pochettino insisted that Kane alone cannot solve the team's scoring problems.

"After City, we were the best and now we are the worst - it's always about balance," the Spurs boss said.

"Yes, we have some problems to create chances or be clinical in front of goal or to show more consistency.

"But maybe the problem is not in front. Maybe it's because we are not building in a very good way from the back and the ball arrives in the last third in different conditions."

Toby Alderweireld (leg), Erik Lamela (hip) and Ben Davies (ankle) are all out for tonight's match, while a late decision will be made on Mousa Dembele after he came off against Bayer Leverkusen with a foot problem.

- Wire Services.


By the numbers

21: It has been a long 21 years since Tottenham last finished above Arsenal in the Premier League. It was at the end of the 1994/95 season with Spurs finishing seventh under Gerry Francis as the Gunners languished in 12th after George Graham's near nine-year stint as boss had come to an end earlier in the campaign.

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