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.
“The most important thing is to do our job, try to win games and try to reduce the gap with Chelsea.”
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.
– ‘Desperate’ –
“Harry is a player with a character and personality that believes in all. He’s a person that never settles on limits,” Pochettino said.
“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.”
Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama is available again after overcoming a back complaint.
But winger Erik Lamela and young midfielder Harry Winks remain sidelined with hip and ankle injuries respectively.
England left-back Danny Rose is due back in training next week following a knee injury and could return in time for the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley on April 22.
Seven points clear of the relegation zone with six games to play, Bournemouth appear to be safe, but their fans will want a few more points on the board before they start celebrating survival.
Eddie Howe’s side saw a five-game unbeaten run ended by last weekend’s loss to Chelsea and are still waiting for their first away win of 2017.
“We know we need more points so we are desperate to do that and if we don’t do that in our next game, we have got five other games to do so,” said Howe.
Howe will again be able to call upon Tyrone Mings after the defender completed a five-match suspension for stamping on the head of Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Midfielder Dan Gosling is doubtful due to a knee injury, but winger Junior Stanislas could feature after making good progress in his recovery from a groin strain.-AFP