A Premier League top four finish for Tottenham Hotspur this season would be like winning the title, manager Antonio Conte said on Saturday after his team bounced back from their midweek Champions League exit with a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest.
Harry Kane bagged a first-half double and Son Heung-min added a third as Spurs eased the pressure on Conte, whose future at the club has been the source of speculation after Wednesday’s Champions League elimination at the hands of AC Milan.
The victory was Spurs’ first in four games after a demoralising 10 days during which they also crashed out of the FA Cup and lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league.
“For us to finish in the top four is like winning the Premier League,” said Conte, who led Tottenham to a fourth-placed finish last season. “It happened last season, and I spoke about it being a miracle.
“This season it will be much more difficult, there are many teams involved and in this moment there is only one place available.”
Tottenham have 48 points from 27 games, six more than fifth-placed Liverpool, who suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth but have a game in hand. Newcastle United, who play Wolves on Sunday, are a further point adrift of Liverpool in sixth.
Although Chelsea remained 10th after their 3-1 win over Leicester City, Conte said he could not rule out Graham Potter’s side as contenders for the final Champions League qualifying spot.
“Liverpool is a competitor in this race. Newcastle is a different Newcastle to the past, they have invested a lot of money and they have a strong team,” Conte said.
“I don’t consider Chelsea outside because Chelsea has a possibility to win the last 11 or 12 games in a row because the squad is really, really strong.
“A top club looks to themselves. We have to be focused on our path and to try to do our best until the end of the season and then we see which is the position we are able to achieve.”