Michael Carrick says he accepts that if Arsenal win the UEFA Champions League and deny Tottenham a place in the competition then The Gunners will have fully deserved it.
A repeat scenario of last season's dispute between Everton and Liverpool looks increasingly likely as Arsene Wenger has led his side to the final of Europe's biggest competition whilst Spurs retain a four point stranglehold in the race for fourth place.
Uefa clarified the rules after allowing both Merseyside clubs to qualify for this year's campaign, and Spurs will now miss out should lightning strike twice.
Carrick admits he would be severely disappointed should Arsenal triumph in Paris on May 17, but the England midfielder has sportingly accepted that Spurs' bitter rivals would have earned their place in next season's competition.
"If they go and win the Champions League then we'll have to say fair play, they've won the biggest club competition there and they'll have deserved it," Carrick told The Mirror.
"If we finish fourth and they win it, then it will be hard to take but they were the rules at the start of the season and you have to accept it.
"After we drew at Arsenal last Saturday someone said 'We're in Europe' but there wasn't even a reaction in the dressing room.
"We're really focused on getting fourth because if we don't get there now after being there for so long it will be a big disappointment."
Whatever their final destiny it has been a superb season for Martin Jol's side, and Carrick believes having a strong core of English talent has been crucial to making the North Londoners a formidable side again.
"In the past Tottenham were seen as a soft touch and Martin was keen to stamp that out," Carrick added.
"The English backbone is a big part of that and there's some lads like Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson who are pushing for a place as well.
"And to get five players on the pitch at the same time as we did for England against Uruguay shows how far Tottenham have come as a club and a team."
Team-mate Paul Robinson also admits he will be cheering on Barcelona in Paris on May 17 as the final could make or break Spurs' season."I watched Arsenal against Villarreal and if I had been stood in their goal for that split-second I would have just walked out of the way and let Riquelme score the penalty," said Robinson.
"I was willing him to score. You like to see English teams doing well in Europe but I wanted Villarreal to win.
"I just hope Barcelona beat them because it means we're in the Champions League."