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"If you've been challenging for the title for 36 games, you need to finish second -- it's about the position.The current building dates back to 1864, but the name dates back to 1721 when a coaching house stood on the same spot.(And for history buffs the path running alongside is still called Hay Mews).Pochettino's side are already assured a top-three finish -- their highest in the Premier League -- and a place in the Champions League. "After all we've done this season, after the way we've played, if we finish below them, it's... A dodgy lasagne ended Spurs' hopes in 2005-06, while Harry Redknapp's team blew a 10 point lead over the Gunners in 2011-12.Second place will have no impact on their European seeding and the difference in prize money is fractional. Andre Villas-Boas' Spurs squandered a seven-point advantage the following season.This is a landmark in Hampstead, north London dating back almost 300 years.
Mauricio Pochettino was uncharacteristically bristly when asked about Tottenham's hopes of finishing above Arsenal. "I wasn't a local lad but within days of joining the club, I realised the importance of the rivalry," Gary Mabbutt, the last Tottenham captain to finish above Arsenal in 1995 season, told ESPN FC.
"I don't care about Arsenal, I want to win the league, I want to be on top -- but Arsenal, I do not care about," he said. "Since I've been at the club, playing against Arsenal has always been the biggest game of the season.
Pochettino was speaking after Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Southampton and before Arsenal's draw at Manchester City, which left second-place Spurs just two points clear of their rivals going into the final day of the season. No matter what you do during that season, if you manage to beat Arsenal, the fans will forgive you." Harry Kane insists the players "know what it means" to the supporters, and Flavell -- who grew up in Holloway, Arsenal territory -- explains: "Part of supporting Tottenham is about hating Arsenal.
Arsenal will surely beat wretched and relegated Aston Villa but Spurs have a vastly superior goal difference, and a point at Newcastle should be enough to secure North London supremacy for the first time in over two decades. They're going to be unbearable if we finish below them but likewise we'd be unbearable if we finish above them." Before Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996, the clubs had enjoyed comparable post-War success but the Frenchman changed that, guiding the Gunners to 18 consecutive league finishes above Spurs, despite several near misses.
It has to happen," says Gary Flavell, host of The Fighting Cock podcast. There is deep-rooted animosity in North London, dating back to Arsenal's relocation from Woolwich, south of the river, in 1913, and local bragging rights are important.
More of the same on Sunday would be particularly galling because of this season's contrasting narratives: Spurs as united, hungry title challengers; Arsenal as mentally-fragile 'bottlers,' collapsing as usual after Christmas.