Jose Mourinho claimed Tottenham would be in the Champions League places had he been in charge all season after masterminding a “fantastic” victory.
Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld’s late winner secured victory for Spurs, who leapfrogged above Arsenal to put themselves back on course for a place in the Europa League.
But Mourinho, who took over as Spurs boss in November, said they would be even higher had he not taken over mid-season after Mauricio Pochettino was sacked after a poor run of results.
He said: “Big credit to the players because they were really fantastic. What I asked for them tactically they gave me, what I asked from them from the emotional point of view, they gave me even more. They were fantastic.
“I know I could look at in a selfish point of view and say since I arrived, if the championship started in that moment, even with all the problems we had I think we would now be fourth or fifth in the table.
“I don’t want to be selfish, I don’t want to look at it just as a fan that is happy to finish above Arsenal. I would love to play Europa League.
“It is not a competition I am in love with, it is not a competition I would like very much to play, but when you cannot play Champions League you play Europa League.
“In my career I only played Europa League twice, and I won it twice. It would not be bad to play it a third time and to win it a third time. We have to fight until the end to try to finish in a Europa League position.”
Match winner Alderweireld insisted it was the perfect response from Tottenham after their disappointing draw at Bournemouth had heaped pressure on Mourinho.
Alderweireld added: “We tried to do better today and showed there is character in the team, like fighting spirit.
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"Defensively we are getting much better in the last couple of games and you have seen we have quality up front because we could have scored more than two goals.
"Sometimes you need some confidence, like a good win and get the momentum a little bit. The only thing we can do is work hard. What people don't see is that everyone is putting everything into it and I believe that things will change. Today is a very important win for us and the fans."
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