Antonio Conte tells Spurs stars to start acting like a ‘big team’ as he plays down importance of derbies vs Arsena

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ANTONIO CONTE has told Tottenham to start acting like a “big team” in north London derbies.

Spurs know anything less than a win against their arch rivals Arsenal on Thursday will all but end their hopes of playing Champions League football next season.

Three points for the Gunners will hand them a top-four spot, while a draw would see the gap between both sides remain at four with just two Premier League games remaining.

This derby is one of the most emotive and ferocious in English football – one which every Tottenham and Arsenal fan looks for on the calendar at the start of any new campaign.

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In recent years neither club has been fighting for the title, so north London bragging rights is all that has been on the table.

Yet on this occasion, a coveted prize is up for grabs, with fifth-placed Tottenham hoping to go within a point of fourth-placed Arsenal as the chase for Europe’s elite competition nears its conclusion.

Conte urges players to play like a big team

And Spurs boss Conte has urged his players to change their mentalities.

This is not about simply beating Arsenal and the bigger picture has to be their main priority.

He said: “I understand its importance and I understand the rivalry between the two teams.

“But in the past, when I played other derbies, with Inter or Juventus, I always said that a derby is one game or two games in one season.

A big team has to think that you have to win the derby, not because it’s your rival, but because you get three points.

“These three points bring you nearer to winning something important at the end of the season, not only focused on beating your rival.

“Our mind has to be open for an important target, and for winning a derby to be a way to reach an important target.

“We know very well that if we don’t get three points then probably we finish in fifth in the table.

There is a big rivalry, we know very well, the players know very well, and we want to give satisfaction to our fans and we’ll try to do our best. But it’s a game.”

Having been pegged back by Liverpool in a 1-1 draw at Anfield last weekend, Conte is confident Tottenham’s fans can push the side once more to another important result.

But talk of the top four and why Tottenham have faded so emphatically since challenging for the title in 2017 and 2018 sees Conte look to the future.

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