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Monday 25 September 2017

Pochettino: 'We must make Wembley our home'

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has challenged his players to make Wembley home and insists their poor record at the English national stadium is nothing to do with the unfamiliar surroundings.

Wembley will play host to Spurs this season as their new stadium on the site of White Hart Lane is completed - and they welcome London rivals Chelsea tomorrow in the first-ever Premier League match to be staged there.

Pochettino's side had a woeful record at Wembley last term as they played their ill-fated Champions League campaign under the arch, losing to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen before beating CSKA Moscow having already been eliminated.

That poor form saw Spurs drop into the Europa League - and they were dumped out of that competition after being held to a draw at Wembley by Gent.

Since beating Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final, that win over CSKA remains their only success in nine competitive outings - with three defeats coming at the hands of the Blues. Antonio Conte's champions, even with the ongoing issue of unsettled striker Diego Costa to deal with, will therefore provide a fitting first challenge for Pochettino and Spurs at their temporary home, and the Argentinian insists they will have nobody to blame but themselves if they do not hit the ground running.

Problem

"Wembley is not a problem. We are the problem if we don't win like last season," he said.

"Wembley is the most important place in the world and if we are not able to win there it is not because of Wembley, it is because of us. It is the most exciting place to play football.

"It is where football is born. For me, in Argentina and Spain, Wembley was a big dream and now a possibility to play there every two weeks, or maybe every week, or maybe three times in one week.

"A problem? Oh, come on, I love Wembley. Wembley is not the problem. We need to make Wembley our home.

"There's no excuse. Okay it was difficult to move from White Hart Lane to Wembley and it was a perfect excuse for everyone. Now it's not an excuse." Meanwhile, Spurs' long wait for a summer signing ended with the announcement of a move for Ajax defender Davinson Sanchez.

The 21-year-old Colombian centre back has put pen to paper on a deal until 2023 for a reported club-record £42million fee. His arrival comes after much debate about the club's transfer policy during the off-season.

A statement read: "We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement with AFC Ajax for the transfer of Davinson Sanchez subject to medical and work permit."

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