Arsene Wenger: We cannot argue with the 17-point gap to Tottenham

Matt Law
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at White Hart Lane - Getty Images Europe

Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal cannot argue with the North London power shift that will see his team finish behind Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in 22 years with 17 points now separating the two clubs.

Two goals in 146 second-half seconds, from Dele Alli and Harry Kane, meant that, for the first time in Wenger’s Arsenal reign, Tottenham will end the season ahead of the Gunners in the Premier League table.

The victory, in the final North London derby at White Hart Lane, also meant that Spurs remain in the title race after cutting the gap back down to four points between themselves and leaders Chelsea, while Arsenal face a fight to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Asked if 17 points were a fair reflection of the gap between Tottenham and Arsenal this season, Wenger said: “Look, the points are the points. They do not come from heaven, you earn them on the pitch. That’s it. Whatever I believe, the gap is there.”

Arsenal are in sixth place, behind Liverpool, Manchester City and United, and, on his team’s hopes of finishing in the top four, Wenger added: “It will be very difficult now, but we have to fight. We have a cup final, we have still a chance to get into the top four and we have to recover from today and prepare for our next games.

“We didn't score today, we didn't score at Palace or West Brom, we have to play more and create more than we did today. Overall, Tottenham deserved to win.”

Mauricio Pochettino revealed his players did not watch Chelsea beat Everton ahead of their match, but now wants them to crank up the pressure on Antonio Conte’s team by beating West Ham United.

Spurs travel to West Ham on Friday night with the chance of reducing the gap at the top to one point before Chelsea face Middlesbrough next Monday night.

“It could be important,” said Pochettino. “We’ll see after. We will have the chance to play before and if we are able to win at West Ham...it will be a tough game and a difficult game and if we are able to win we will see what happens.

“We are in the race for the title. We reduce again the gap to Chelsea and now we have to be focused because we have again on Friday a very important game against West Ham and now it’s important to be focused on that game.

Spurs 1 - 0 Arsenal (Dele Alli, 55 min)

“The players were really focused on the Arsenal game and I think they didn’t realise what happened at Everton. We (the coaching staff) knew because we were watching, but they were very focused. They did not watch the Chelsea game.

“It is four points, with four games to play, all is possible in football and we’ll see what happens next week. But now it’s important to feel proud, happy, because the last game against Arsenal and all that means for our fans and those who love Tottenham, it was a fantastic afternoon.”

On becoming the first Tottenham manager to guide his team to a higher Premier League finish than Arsenal, Pochettino said: “I am happy, as when always you play a derby like Tottenham, Arsenal it is always important to win.

“But I have a massive respect for Arsene Wenger. I admire him for what he is doing in a club like Arsenal and it is a fantastic job. I am so happy, but our challenge is and our aim is not only to beat Arsenal but also the 19 teams in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino shakes hands with Arsene Wenger at full time Credit: Reuters

“Of course I am very happy but I am also so calm as we have four games to play and now it is important to be focused and to try to reduce the gap to Chelsea.”

Goalscorer Kane echoed the message from his manager, saying: “Of course, it's good for the fans to beat Arsenal.

“For us, we are not really focusing on that. We are in the title race and the next job is securing second place. That is an added bonus to a great day and a great atmosphere. The fans have got the bragging rights for the time being, but we still have important games coming up. We have another London derby on Friday night to look forward to.”

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