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Antonio Conte: Spurs need to treat final nine games as cup finals

Tottenham are firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification following a 3-1 win against West Ham.

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Antonio Conte has seen Spurs play their way back into Champions League contention (Nick Potts/PA)

Antonio Conte has seen Spurs play their way back into Champions League contention (Nick Potts/PA)

Antonio Conte has seen Spurs play their way back into Champions League contention (Nick Potts/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says his side have nine cup finals left as they try and earn Champions League qualification.

Spurs kept themselves firmly in the race for the top four with a 3-1 win over West Ham, which came thanks to Son Heung-min’s brace and a Kurt Zouma own goal.

That moved them three points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand, but have to visit their north London rivals in a game that is yet to be rescheduled.

Having distanced his side from the race for so long, Conte says that top-four qualification is now the only target going into the final run-in after the international break.

“The only way to put pressure on Arsenal is to get three points and to win,” Conte said. “There are nine games to go and for us every game has to be a final.

“At the moment they have a good advantage, especially because they are working with the same coach for many years and they have had many transfer markets with the same coach, maybe at this moment they are more ready than us.

“But in five months we have done a fantastic job with these players and we have reduced the gap with many teams in England.

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Son Heung-min celebrates scoring Tottenham’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Son Heung-min celebrates scoring Tottenham’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

Son Heung-min celebrates scoring Tottenham’s third goal (Nick Potts/PA)

“Now in our dressing room there is only one target in our mind. I want this to happen because it is right, if you want to improve the mentality it is right to start under pressure.

“For this reason I want to make this target, the race for fourth place. We know the difficulty to reach this target. Tottenham needs to have the ambition to play the best competition.

“In England it is not simple, in this moment there are four teams that are very, very top but if one of these four teams has a struggle and then we have to try and stay there.

“We know there is Arsenal that is taking advantage in the table and they are showing great stability and there is West Ham and (Manchester) United. We want to try to fight and to have this ambition is important to ask all of the players, especially the important players because they are able to take the responsibility to show this message.”

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West Ham’s own top-four challenge suffered a terminal blow as they are now six points behind Arsenal, having played two more games.

They got themselves back into the game through Said Benrahma but could not get anything out of it.

Boss David Moyes said: “I am a bit annoyed that I am getting asked it, but also I’m quite pleased because it’s telling me we were seen as a side that was getting seen for top four.

“If somebody had said that to me I would have belly laughed. We have been challenging but if you’d have said that at the start of the season none of you would have said yes.

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Declan Rice appears dejected after the defeat (Nick Potts/PA)

Declan Rice appears dejected after the defeat (Nick Potts/PA)

Declan Rice appears dejected after the defeat (Nick Potts/PA)

“It should be put as how well have West Ham done to stay in the race until the last part of season and maybe for the first time they have dropped out of the running for the top four.

“Because in truth we have been in that bracket, but you would never see West Ham being a top-four side.”

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