Saturday 21 September 2019

Pochettino angry at Ajax's free weekend

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino says it's unfair Champions League opponents Ajax have the weekend off to prepare for Tuesday's semi-final while his Spurs side are forced to play today.

Ajax were set to face De Graafschap tomorrow - two days before the first leg in London - but the Dutch football association have rescheduled all this weekend's top flight games to May 15 so league leaders Ajax could rest.

"I know the Premier League and FA helped us prepare for the semi-final but it's true, the Premier League is completely different to the Dutch league," Pochettino said. "Football in Europe is completely different to England.

"They are going to have more time to prepare and avoid risk. When you play Saturday and Tuesday, and the game on Saturday is a derby, the concentration and effort is massive. You can have some problems.

"But it's not a complaint. The fact is I think it's not fair."

Spurs will look to preserve their 100 percent record at their new stadium against West Ham and Pochettino said their focus is on bouncing back from Saturday's 1-0 loss at Manchester City. Tottenham are three points ahead of Chelsea and four ahead of Arsenal in the race for Champions League qualification spots.

Spurs are without Serge Aurier (hamstring), Erik Lamela (hamstring), Moussa Sissoko (groin) and Harry Winks (groin) while striker Harry Kane remains sidelined with a long-term ankle ligament injury.

Manuel Pellegrini has challenged West Ham to become the first team to beat Tottenham at their new stadium.

Spurs have won all three of their matches, without conceding a single goal, since they moved into their new home following their stint at Wembley. West Ham would need to end a dismal away record, having not won on the road since the turn of the year, if they are to shock their London rivals.

Yet the Hammers were the first team to beat Arsenal at the Emirates in 2007 and their fans will be desperate to pull off a notable north London double.

Hammers boss Pellegrini said: "First it's a big game because it's a derby, of course. You have that motivation also. After that you must try to play well, as a big team, as a consistent team.

"We are not going to their stadium just to draw 0-0 and not concede goals, we are going to be the team we have been the whole season.

"Maybe you play away a little bit less attacking and have more players defending and you don't have the mentality to believe you can win, maybe you have more draws.

"But it's better to have just one mentality against every team, the way we played when we beat Manchester United, and now I hope we repeat that against Tottenham, thinking as a big team and playing as a big team."

West Ham welcome back fit-again trio Manuel Lanzini, Javier Hernandez and Aaron Cresswell.

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