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English Premier League

Spurs have backing of Chelsea rivals, says Mauricio Pochettino after romp past Watford

Tottenham boss says ending Blues’ win streak would be good for Premier League

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 9:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 10:55pm

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino believes rival English Premier League managers and fans want his team to win when they tackle leaders Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

With Chelsea six points clear, Pochettino thinks Liverpool, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs will be hoping for a Spurs victory to stop Antonio Conte’s team widening the gap at the top.

Furthermore, the Argentine says it will be good for the league as a whole, as well as for Tottenham, if Chelsea fail to set a new record of 14 successive Premier League victories within the same season.

“I think it’s important for the Premier League and for us to try to win and try to stop them and reduce the gap because in the end for us the challenge is to try to be at the top,” Pochettino said after his side’s 4-1 win at Watford on Sunday.

Last season the situations were reversed, with many neutrals wanting Tottenham to falter against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge so unlikely contenders Leicester City could take the title.

Their wishes were granted as a stormy 2-2 draw delivered the championship to the King Power Stadium.

“Yes, maybe we will feel how Leicester felt last season when all the teams were with them and against us,” Pochettino said. “Maybe they felt the same as us last season.”

However, he warned it will be tough for Tottenham against Conte’s turbo-charged team.

“You know Chelsea arrive in very good shape, us too after the last few games,” he said.

“For me it will be a very, very tough game to try to stop them and try to reduce the gap.”

The win at Watford was a perfect warm-up, effectively decided by half-time when Spurs led 3-0 despite the absences of suspended duo Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker, both of whom will be available to face Chelsea.

“The first half was great. I think it was one of the best performances so far,” said Pochettino, whose side supplanted Manchester City in the Champions League places on goal difference.

“It was nearly a perfect game. The shame was that we conceded a goal in the last minute, but a lot of positive things, very happy.

“We scored from the beginning and at that moment I think the game was over. We controlled it and created some chances.”

He also praised the two-goal contributions of Harry Kane and Dele Alli, as well as Vertonghen and Walker’s replacements Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier, who set up both of Kane’s goals.

“I think [Kane] was very good, him and Dele, and it was good that they scored,” said the Spurs manager.

“I’m very pleased with players like Trippier and Wimmer, who don’t have the opportunity to play too much, but make us more competitive. Their performance was fantastic.”

Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri said the result was his “lowest moment” in charge, but he pointed to injuries that robbed him of the services of 10 players.

“If you play against Tottenham when you are missing 10 players, maybe five or six of a starting XI, you know it won’t be easy,” he said.

“I don’t want to make comparisons, but if you take away five important members of any other team, they will also be in great difficulty.”

He denied that a run of six defeats in nine games, which has left Watford in 13th place, has put him under pressure.

“When I’ve spoken with the club, with the president, the objective has always been to avoid relegation and we are doing better than that,” said the Italian, whose side replied through Younes Kaboul.

“Before we had the players missing we were doing something extraordinary, better than expectations, so we have to take this into account.”