Po­chet­tino plays down Tot­ten­ham’s ti­tle cre­den­tials ahead of north Lon­don derby

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Sport - BY JONATHAN VEAL

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur boss Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino said his side are not Pre­mier League con­tenders – de­spite their im­pres­sive re­sults this sea­son.

Spurs are en­joy­ing one of their best ever starts to a sea­son, hav­ing won 10 of their open­ing 13 games, and are again re­sid­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League places.

They show­cased their qual­ity with a bril­liant 3-1 win over the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Chelsea last week­end which puts them five points be­hind lead­ers Man­ches­ter City.

City and Liver­pool have both beaten Spurs this sea­son and Po­chet­tino, ahead of an­other tough ex­am­i­na­tion at Arse­nal on Sun­day, reck­ons there is no pres­sure on his side to con­tend for the ti­tle.

“We are closer than last sea­son to the top. I can­not say we’re a con­tender for the ti­tle,” he said.

“I think Man­ches­ter City is in a dif­fer­ent level and of course clubs like Liver­pool, Chelsea, the same, Man­ches­ter United and Arse­nal.

“They make more in­vest­ment than us and in a dif­fer­ent level. I think they need to show or be the con­tenders – or they are the con­tenders, more than us. But we’re there.

“If we’re ca­pa­ble in the last few months of the sea­son to be in a good po­si­tion in the ta­ble, we’re go­ing to try.

“But foot­ball is be­lief, faith in your qual­ity and then it’s ap­proach­ing the game in the right at­ti­tude and the right way, and all is pos­si­ble.”

Not only has Po­chet­tino played down his side’s chances of win­ning the ti­tle, he also ranks this sea­son’s chal­lenge of get­ting into the top four as the tough­est yet.

“I think it’s tougher than last sea­son be­cause at the same point as this sea­son, last sea­son I think we were se­cond or in a bet­ter po­si­tion,” he said.

“I think yes, to be in the top four this sea­son will be tougher than the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

“But we have the be­lief that we can do it and de­liver a very good job and that’s the most im­por­tant thing, be­cause we have the qual­ity.”

To­mor­row is the first time in 23 years that Spurs travel across Lon­don to face an Arse­nal side not man­aged by Arsene Wenger.

In­stead of the French­man, the Gun­ners are man­aged by Unai Emery, a good friend of Po­chet­tino’s.

“I have a very good re­la­tion­ship with Unai, he is a great man­ager, he’s do­ing a fan­tas­tic job there,” the Spurs boss said.

“Of course Arse­nal have al­ways been a good team with very good play­ers and un­be­liev­able man­age­ment from one of the great­est man­agers ever.

“Now it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent cul­ture with a man­ager who is Span­ish. It will be tough be­cause they are do­ing a good job from the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and signed very good play­ers too.

“I think the squad has very good qual­ity and it will be tough.

“Of course, he is for me an un­be­liev­able man­ager, he showed at dif­fer­ent clubs in Eu­rope.

“It will be tough to play against him, against teams man­aged by him and Arse­nal have very good play­ers and of course it is a derby, an ex­cit­ing game which means a lot for the fans.

“It’s an emo­tional com­po­nent, which makes it more dif­fi­cult to play these type of games.”

Erik Lamela will have a fit­ness test on a thigh in­jury, while Kieran Trip­pier is near­ing a re­turn from a groin in­jury.


Spurs man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino

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