Tottenham ‘have to’ finish above Arsenal, declares Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas believes Tottenham must finish above their north London rivals Arsenal in the league this season
Andre Villas-Boas has challenged Tottenham to finish ahead of rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995 this season in the build-up to the north London derby.
Spurs are currently in seventh place in the Premier League table and a point ahead of the Gunners after 11 games heading into Saturday’s clash at Emirates Stadium.
The Tottenham manager admits both clubs’ positions are less-than-ideal for sides that have been touted as title contenders but the Portuguese coach is focused on ensuring Spurs are in the fight for a Champions League spot.
“Can we finish above them? We have to,” said Villas-Boas. “From what I see, City and Chelsea are in the race for the title. We want to bring one of those spots closer to us but it’s difficult as these clubs have other resources.
“Neither we nor Arsenal are where we want to be — the position in the League doesn’t suit either of us. This time last year, we were higher up the table and had our poor period towards the end. We have both shown we can do better, though, and there is still time.”
Villas-Boas is gearing up for his first north London derby and is braced for a game full of “passion” against Arsene Wenger’s men, who will be looking to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat by Manchester United last weekend.
“I’ve been getting used to this derby for the last two weeks. The staff speak about it and the chairman keeps on mentioning it. It’s normal and you have to embrace it. It’s part of the greater culture of the game and it means a lot for both teams.
“I remember well from when I was Porto manager the games against Benfica. It was not a local derby but it was the ‘clasico’ of the Portuguese league. It was full of passion and people get ready to play a game like that. I’ve certainly felt the same thing this week.
“You understand the importance of it and the passion is very high. It is a game that represents only three points in the League but the history of the north London derby means that it is about more than that.”