Pochettino: Chelsea’s lack of European games is advantage

Chelsea’s lack of European football gives them a major advantage over Tottenham in Saturday’s Premier League grudge match, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Last season, Leicester City played just 43 games in total and won the Premier League, while Liverpool’s unexpected title challenge in 2013-14 also came without European football, leading Pochettino to believe that it was indisputably an advantage.

“I think it’s obvious and nobody can be disappointed or upset with that idea,” the Spurs manager said.

“If you are a big team like Chelsea and you are not involved in European competition or cups, you have one week to prepare for a game, in this case against Tottenham. And we were playing on Tuesday in Monaco and arrived [home] late, so you cannot have a proper week to prepare. It is normal that it is an advantage for the opponent.”

Tottenham were in pursuit of Leicester City last season for the Premier League title, when they were stopped short by Chelsea with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. A melee ensued by the dugout after the match as tempers flared, but Chelsea stays unbeaten in Stamford Bridge against Spurs for 26 years.

Additionally, now Spurs is disadvantaged in fielding a relatively depleted squad.

Toby Alderweireld (knee), Erik Lamela (hip) and Ben Davies (ankle) will have no part on the visit to Chelsea while Danny Rose is suspended. Jan Vertonghen is expected to fill in at left-back.

However, Alderweireld did some work with the ball in training on Thursday and Pochettino hoped the player could complete the session on Friday.

“Next week will be key to see if he can be involved next Saturday,” the manager said, looking further forward to Spurs’ home game against Swansea City.

Prediction:

Chelsea wins, (2) – (0) Tottenham

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