Antonio Conte ready to embrace 'special' north London clash and talks up European hopes

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says he cannot wait to experience his first north London derby against Arsenal on Thursday and insists the race to secure Champions League football is not over.

Victory for local rivals Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday would secure Mikel Arteta's men a top-four Premier League finish - their highest since the 2015/16 season - as the Gunners look to end a five-year wait for a return to the Champions League.

Fourth-placed Arsenal have a four-point lead over Tottenham in fifth place with only three games to go but Conte, who replaced Nuno Espirito Santo in November last year, says his players are motivated to spoil the visitors' ambitions.

Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners when the two sides met at the Emirates Stadium back in September last year on an afternoon to forget for Nuno and his players but this time around Tottenham's incentive is clear, says Conte.

"It's my first north London derby and I know very well what this game means for this club for our fans," he told Spurs TV.

"We have to know very well what it also means for the table for us at this moment.

"We are fighting for a place in the Champions League, we are in this race with Arsenal. We are doing a really good job to stay in this race.

"At the same time, I want to try to give satisfaction to our fans, they deserve this type of satisfaction in a tough game, a derby against Arsenal."

Conte, who won the Premier League and the FA Cup in his first spell in England in charge of Chelsea, knows all about the emotion of derby fixtures and says Thursday will be no different.

He says his players will have to separate themselves from what he expects will be a highly-charged atmosphere and focus on the task in hand.

"The derby is always a difficult game," said Conte, who led Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years before leaving the club last May.

"If you play Juventus-Torino, Milan-Inter, Roma-Lazio in Italy...in London, there are many derbies, and, for sure, the rivalry with Arsenal is very high. It's a special derby.

"You have to try to give your best from the start until the end, to be focussed, great concentration, to enjoy the game as well, but you have to know that this derby is very important for us, and for the table."

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