EPL

Conte: Champions league qualification would be life-changing for Tottenham

By Sports Desk April 14, 2022

Antonio Conte claimed Champions League qualification would be life-changing for Tottenham ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Conte also reiterated, however, that Tottenham face a difficult challenge to secure a place in Europe's premier competition, insisting another four clubs were also competing for fourth spot.

Spurs have won four consecutive league games to move into the Premier League's top four, the last two of those by four goals (a 5-1 win over Newcastle United and a 4-0 victory at Aston Villa). Another four-goal win would make Conte's team the first side to win three successive Premier League games by four goals since Manchester City in September 2017.

Tottenham will be confident of extending their excellent form against the Seagulls, who have lost on all four of their Premier League trips to Spurs. Only against Bournemouth (five wins from five) do Spurs have a better 100 per cent home record in the competition.

Ahead of Saturday's clash, Conte said watching this week's Champions League fixtures really brought home how important it is for his side to mix it with Europe's elite.

"The Champions League is a competition that every club, every player, every manager wants to play and for this reason it's important to have this great goal," Conte said. 

"[It] changes your life if next season you are going to play in the Champions League, instead of playing UEFA [Europa] League, [Europa] Conference League, or nothing. 

"The team is ready to fight until the end in this race. This race is not easy. It's very, very important to finish in the top four in England because it means that you have reached a great result for the club.

"Yesterday and two days ago we watched how important it is to play in the Champions League and how fascinating these games [are]. I'm sure that in my players there is a great desire to be protagonists in this competition.

"But we know very well that there are other teams that are really strong, Arsenal, [Manchester] United, West Ham, Wolverhampton, that they are in the same race with us, but we want to fight until the end, and we'll see what happens at the end of the season."

In-form Tottenham have scored at least twice in each of their last seven Premier League games – only once have they had a longer such run, doing so in 11 consecutive games between September and December 2011.

Conte conducted his media duties in person after his positive COVID-19 test had originally forced the club to plan a remote news conference, and was confident that having to distance from his players had not impacted Spurs' preparations. 

"I had mild symptoms after the game against Aston Villa on Saturday," he added. "Mild pain in the throat, then I wanted to have a COVID-19 test, and I was positive.

"Now I'm well, and it's okay. I attended training sessions this week from a distance because I didn't want to take any risks with the players. 

"My staff did a really good job, I trust in my staff, they are well prepared. The situation is under control. I'll be okay for Saturday, I'll be on the bench, in my place."

Conte was also asked about the condition of Matt Doherty, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained at Villa Park last Saturday.

The Italian called the absence of Doherty, whose six league goal involvements this season (two goals, four assists) can only be bettered by four Spurs players, "really bad news" but expressed his confidence in the other options in his squad. 

"This is really bad news for us because, as you know well, Matthew was improving game by game and becoming a really important player for us," Conte added. "He had great confidence. But, in football, this kind of situation can happen.

"It's a pity, a pity for him, and we are very disappointed. Now, we have to find the best solution. We have Emerson [Royal], Sergio Reguilon, [Ryan] Sessegnon in the squad, and we have to try to do our best until the end of the season."

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