Mauricio Pochettino is hoping the motivation of trying to win a London derby will help keep Tottenham’s Premier League title challenge alive at Chelsea on Monday.
Tottenham slipped seven points adrift of table-topping Leicester City with a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom last time out.
Subsequently, Spurs cannot afford to lose against their London rivals at Stamford Bridge, though the title could already be out of their hands by that point if Leicester win at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But Pochettino is preparing his team for a crunch fixture regardless of the result a day prior.
“Against Chelsea it’s a derby and we need to still fight for the title,” the Argentine told Spurs TV.
“Chelsea this season were not consistent like the season before. They’re in a position in the middle of the table, but always they keep very good players and are a very good team and can play well in a game. But our objective is to go and try to get the three points.
“The derby is a big motivation for everyone. There’s a lot of speech from them about the team they want to win the league and this is another motivation for us. It’s true that we expect a tough game, we are ready to fight and we’ll see what happens.”
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink denies the Blues’ sole intention is to dent Tottenham’s hopes of lifting a first Premier League title.
The reigning champions still have a slender chance to secure European football next season, but they will need to improve on a record that has seen them win just one of their last eight home fixtures.
“It’s not specifically [about stopping] Tottenham to make the season a success. That’s not true. I don’t think like that,” said Hiddink.
“I cannot give a guarantee of results, but I can guarantee the effort will be there. Not just in Monday’s game.
“They showed this year a lot of stability. There’s never a guarantee in football, but the way they play is a way for success. They have very good balance in their team.”
Tottenham’s only injury concern regards Eric Dier after the England international sustained a concussion during a training session, but the match comes too soon for Nabil Bentaleb.
However, Dele Alli is unavailable after he was handed a three-game ban for violent conduct by the Football Association.
Chelsea are set to welcome John Terry back after over a month on the sidelines with Achilles and hamstring injuries, while Gary Cahill could also be available.
Key Opta stats:
– Chelsea have not lost a league home game against Tottenham Hotspur since February 1990; winning 17 and drawing eight of their 25 meetings at Stamford Bridge since.
– The Blues lost their last Premier League home game against Manchester City – they haven’t lost two in a row in the competition at Stamford Bridge since November 2011.
– Tottenham Hotspur have attempted 131 more shots on target than they have allowed their opponents this season (236 v 105); the biggest differential by a Premier League side in 2015-16.
– Cesc Fabregas now has 95 assists in the Premier League – only Ryan Giggs (162) and Frank Lampard (102) have more in the history of the competition.
– Harry Kane is two goals away from scoring 50 Premier League goals – if he does it in this game then he’ll be the eighth quickest player to 50 goals in the competition (in his 84th appearance).
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