LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur have “bigger things” in their sights than finishing above Arsenal this season as they step up their pursuit of Premier League leaders Chelsea, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham last finished above Arsenal in 1995, but currently have a 14-point advantage over their north London rivals, albeit having played a game more than Arsene Wenger’s crumbling team.
Saturday’s home game against Bournemouth, however, presents an opportunity to trim Chelsea’s advantage to four points and that is the only thing on Pochettino’s mind.
“I think we’re playing and fighting for bigger things,” the Argentine told a press conference at Spurs’ training centre in Enfield, north London on Thursday. “If we look at the bigger picture, it’s to try to reduce the gap with Chelsea. I think today it’s not important, the gap we have with Arsenal.”
Spurs eroded Chelsea’s lead last weekend when they crushed Watford 4-0 at White Hart Lane, only for Antonio Conte’s men to restore their seven-point advantage by winning 3-1 at Bournemouth.
But with Chelsea facing a testing trip to Manchester United on Sunday, another Spurs home win will pile the pressure on once more.
Should Tottenham prevail on Saturday, they will have won seven successive games for the first time in the post-1992 Premier League era.
Having made his return from an ankle injury in the win against Watford, Harry Kane is in line to make his first start in almost five weeks.
Kane was named among the nominees for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Season award on Thursday.
The 23-year-old England striker has 24 goals to his name in all competitions and Pochettino believes he is fully capable of reaching the 30-goal mark by the time the season is out.
“Harry is a player with a character and personality that believes in all. He’s a person that never settles on limits,” said Pochettino. “All is possible. There are a lot of games to play to the end of the season. He’s now fit again, available to play and he’s in a very good condition. He’s very fresh in his body and his mind and he’s very hungry to score again.”
City wary of Saints stealing their halo
Manchester City’s Champions League qualification chances look a little more solid after a productive week, but there will still be little margin for error when they travel to Southampton on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side enjoyed their first win in five Premier League matches last weekend, a straightforward 3-1 home victory over struggling Hull making City a little more secure in fourth place.
With Arsenal, one of City’s rivals for a top-four finish, losing 3-0 at Crystal Palace on Monday, and Manchester United looking increasingly to the Europa League for comfort, the picture is looking brighter for Guardiola as a testing first season in England draws to a close.
“I think Southampton are having an exceptional season,” said Guardiola. “They have, of course, a good manager (Claude Puel) and exceptional players in all positions.”