Spurs boss Mourinho sets sights on Europa League title
- Credit: PA
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has set his sights on winning next season’s Europa League – if his side can qualify.
Spurs took a big step towards reaching the second-tier European competition after beating Arsenal 2-1 in the first ever north London derby at their new home.
Toby Alderweireld’s late goal saw them move above the Gunners into eighth place in the Premier LEague, a position which would seal qualification if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld on Monday morning, and are back in the race for seventh as well.
Mourinho has already won the Europa League and the competition in its former guise as the UEFA Cup twice and wants his side to allow him a crack at a third.
“I would love to play Europa League,” he said. “It is not a competition I am in love with, it is not a competition that I like very, very much to play, but when you cannot play the Champions League, you play the Europa League.
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“In my career I have only played the Europa League twice and I have won it twice. It would not be bad to play a third time and win it a third time. We have to fight until the end to finish in a Europa League place.
“If you ask (six-time Formula One world champion) Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula Two, I don’t think it will be a great deal for him, but it is a competition and I prefer to play Europa League than to not play.
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“I think it is a title Tottenham would obviously (like to) get. I think we should do everything possible to play Europa League next season and we have to fight for that.”
While the victory helps Spurs’ European ambitions, it dealt a major blow to Arsenal’s.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has vowed to keep on fighting until all hope has gone.
His side were in front through Alexandre Lacazette’s first-half screamer before a defensive howler allowed Son Heung-min to equalise, with Alderweireld then left unmarked at a late corner.
“Points-wise it is a massive blow because we know the results this weekend, but we will keep trying until we have no hope,” said Arteta.
“This is who we are. We are fighting in two different ways, one in the league and won in the FA Cup. We will do our best and try and finish as strong as possible.
“I am disappointed and frustrated and really sorry for the boys because of the way they played and showed who we are.
“But you give the two goals away that we have given, against these players it is very difficult to win a derby.
“If we minimise the mistakes we do and keep playing like that we are going to win many, many, many football matches because we are going to make it very difficult for opponents.”