English Premiership

Pochettino pins hopes on Leicester collapse

2016-05-01 13:03
Mauricio Pochettino (TEAMtalk)

London - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is doing his best to spook Premier League champions-elect Leicester City as his side prepare to face Chelsea knowing their destiny is out of their hands.

With Leicester needing three points to complete a fairytale title triumph ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Sunday, the race could be over by the time Spurs kick off at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

Spurs' only hope is that they win their final three games and Leicester take no more than two points from theirs, but although it is a paper-thin one, Pochettino is not yet ready to admit defeat.

"It is difficult to stop the excitement they have now in Leicester. That can be dangerous," Pochettino said.

"I hope that it is, but we need to win our game and do our job. The gap is seven points and there are nine points to play for. It is not easy, it is difficult, but we need to believe.

"The most important thing is not only that Leicester drop points, but we need to win our game."

One-sided wins over Manchester United and Stoke City suggested that Spurs would match Leicester stride for stride in the run-in, only for a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion to harpoon their title dreams.

Nevertheless, Pochettino can take immense heart from the way that his young side have carried the fight to Leicester during a season that has seen the traditional heavyweights fall by the wayside.

Victory for Leicester at Old Trafford would come with a silver lining, meanwhile, for Spurs, as it would guarantee them a top-four finish, and with it a place in next season's Champions League.

Pochettino emphasised his faith in the Tottenham project on Friday by revealing that he is set to sign a new five-year contract and with the club also due to move into a new 61,000-seater stadium in 2018, he is confident that there is a bright future in store for his team.

"We can feel a little bit disappointed because the gap behind Leicester is big, but realistically we have a very good, young squad," said the Argentine, who joined from Southampton in 2014.

"If it is not possible to win the title this season, we need to try this season and the next season after. The potential of the club and the squad we have is massive."

The stalemate with West Brom was doubly costly for Spurs as it resulted in Dele Alli receiving a retrospective three-game ban for punching Claudio Yacob that has ended the midfielder's season.

Alli's fellow England midfielder Eric Dier was concussed after taking a blow to the head during the game and is due to undergo a pre-match fitness test to determine his availability.

Spurs have not won at Chelsea since February 1990 and can expect a hostile reception due to the longstanding animosity between the two clubs' sets of fans.

Chelsea midfielders Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas upped the ante recently by publicly stating that they do not want to see Spurs win the league.

Chelsea can definitively end their rivals' title bid by making sure Spurs do not better Leicester's result at Old Trafford, but interim manager Guus Hiddink said his side would approach the game like any other.

"It's not specifically (about stopping) Tottenham to make the season a success," said Hiddink, who will be succeeded by Antonio Conte at the season's end.

"That's not true. I don't think like that. I cannot give a guarantee of results, but I can guarantee the effort will be there. Not just in Monday's game."

Captain John Terry is expected to be available for Chelsea after an Achilles injury, but may not start, while fellow centre-back Gary Cahill has recovered from a bout of illness.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois completes a two-match suspension, while striker Loic Remy (groin) and centre-back Kurt Zouma (knee) remain sidelined.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Swansea City v Manchester City, Liberty Stadium 21:45
Newcastle United v Everton, St. James' Park 21:45
Southampton v Leicester City, St. Mary's Stadium 21:45
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion, Anfield 22:00
West Ham United v Arsenal, London Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth, Old Trafford 22:00
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Stoke City v West Ham United, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
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