Tottenham will get nowhere 'peering over the back fence' at Arsenal, insists Ange Postecoglou

Tottenham will get nowhere 'peering over the back fence' at Arsenal, insists Ange Postecoglou

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou says he is not motivated by ending Arsenal's title challenge in Sunday's crunch north London derby.

Spurs can put a massive dent in their rivals' hopes of beating Manchester City to the top spot in the Premier League if Postecoglou's side avoid defeat at home this weekend.

For many Spurs supporters, stopping Arsenal winning a first title since 2004 is more important than their own club's pursuit of fourth-place, but Postecoglou is focused on turning Spurs into serial contenders, rather than derailing their neighbours.

Asked if he would feel personal satisfaction at denting Arsenal's title prospects, Postecoglou said: "Not in terms of that as a motivation, no.

"I want to win and I understand the importance of winning against your traditional rival. I’ve just come down from Glasgow - I’ve got a fair idea about what derbies mean to supporters.

"I never believe your motivation should revolve around the demise of somebody else. Your motivation should be about yourself. I want to win because I want us to achieve something. I want us to progress. I want us to be in a position fighting for the title. That’s what drives me, not the demise.

"If that’s your kind of measure, always peering over the back fence to see what your neighbour’s building, you could both have the worst houses in the street because everyone else is building beautiful places and you’re looking over the back fence.”

"When it gets to this time of the year, I want us to be one of the ones fighting for that ultimate prize," he continued.

"Right now we are 10-15 points behind that. That’s your measure.

"We can win on Sunday but it doesn’t mean we are title contenders this year. To be title contenders you’ve got to do it over the course of the whole year. That’s how I’m measuring ourselves. So we know we’ve still got some work to do.

"At the same time, we’re in a better position than we were 12 months ago to build on that. That has to be our aim, that in 12 months’ time we’re in a position where we are one of the contenders rather than trying to disrupt them."

Postecoglou experienced perhaps the most ferocious derby in British football during his two years at Celtic - the Old Firm - but even in the duopoly of the Scottish Premiership, he says he was never motivated by simply bettering Rangers.

"It's massive, and the years I was there and this year there’s extra significance because usually those games decide the title," the Australian said.

"That’s how tight it usually is. It’s not just beating your biggest rivals because you know what it means to your supporters, but in those four games if it swings one way or another you’ve probably lost the title. Or it’s a cup semi-final or a final. They’re massive games and you need to embrace that responsibility.

"I never wanted to win those games because it meant Rangers would lose. I wanted to win because I wanted us to win the title. I wanted us to win those games.

"If that’s your only measure, staying ahead of your rival, whilst you’re fighting with each other, there are others who could be going past you, so I’ve always made a conscious effort to make the measure about how good we can be."

“Harry Kane leaving was the starting point for us.”

Ange Postecoglou

Ahead of Sunday's crunch game, Postecoglou reflected on losing Harry Kane, who so was so often decisive against Arsenal, on the eve of the season, and revealed he made a "conscious effort" not to panic in front of the squad.

"I think [Kane leaving] was sort of the starting point for us," the Spurs manager said.

"Because I was literally sitting in here the day before the Brentford game and he’d just left. So you’re starting a season and the most significant person at this football club, maybe ever, has just left on the eve of the first game.

"And I remember making a real conscious effort of... it's the old duck just looking really graceful above the water and if there's any panicking happening, make sure it's under the water where nobody can see, particularly the players. And the players never batted an eyelid - which they could have.

“Especially when you look at what Harry has done this year. It has been unbelievable. You just go, 'Gee - that’s a significant player that has left this football club!'.

"And yet he hasn’t been mentioned as much as he would have been had we not been scoring goals. His name would have come up a lot more. That’s credit to the group.The playing group that they have embraced that challenge.

"I think these things we have been through this year will help us in the medium or long-term. Even the disrupted season. Because it kind of removes any excuse we have for next year. We are not going to lose another Harry Kane next year. We are not going to have a disrupted season.

"We are going to have, with a bit of luck, fewer injuries next year, so there’s nothing to clutch there. We’ve already done that. We’ve been through that. We’ve come out the other side. Not too badly.

"We are not where we want to be. So I still think that will help us. But it's not nice when you go through it still."

Postecoglou revealed that Ben Davies will start at left-back on Sunday in place of Destiny Udogie, who has been ruled out for the season following surgery on a muscular injury, and said striker Richarlison is "ready to go" after fully recovering from a knee injury.

"He's looked good in training this week, which is good and he's obviously ready to go," Postecoglou said of the Brazilian. "We're going to need him over the last six games and it does give us another good option in that front third."