José Mourinho targets Europa League after Tottenham edge past Arsenal

José Mourinho said he wants to secure Europa League qualification for Tottenham from the remaining games of the season after watching his team edge to a derby win over Arsenal.

The manager knows Spurs are set fair to finish above their rivals for a fourth season in a row after a 2-1 home victory on Sunday thanks to Toby Alderweireld’s late winner.

Until three years ago Arsenal had finished above Spurs 21 years in succession but what Mourinho is after is European football and, if it is not to be the Champions League, he would be happy to enter the Europa League. Mourinho won the tournament at Porto in 2003 when it was called the Uefa Cup and again with Manchester United in 2017.

“It is a fans’ view [to want to finish above Arsenal] – I have to be more ambitious than that,” Mourinho said. “I know I could look at the situation in a selfish way and say that since I arrived [in mid-November] … if the championship started then, even with all the problems we had, I think we would be fourth or fifth. But I don’t want to be selfish or look at it like a fan.

“I would love to play Europa League. It’s not a competition I am in love with but when you cannot play Champions League, you play Europa League. I have played it twice and won it twice. It would not be bad to play it a third time and win it a third time.”

Mikel Arteta was proud of how Arsenal forced back Spurs but was left to lament defensive looseness for the two goals they conceded.

“To attack 10 players [behind the ball] like this all the time is not an easy thing to do,” the Arsenal manager said. “We had chances to win. We can do more and be more invasive and exploit spaces better than what we have done.

“Mourinho is trying to do [his style] and he wins the game. Two different styles, he manages really well, he has a good team behind him. I believe he always finds a way to win it. When I give it to him I feel bad.”