April 26, 2019

It’s unfair for Ajax to get rest while Tottenham play this weekend, Pochettino says

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday it was unfair their 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League semi-final opponents had the weekend off to prepare for the tie and they did not.

Mauricio Pochettino

The English Premier League (EPL) side plays a crucial derby game against West Ham United in London.

Their opponents, Ajax Amsterdam, were set to play De Graafschap on April 28, two days before the first leg tie in London.

But this led the Dutch football association to reschedule all of this weekend’s top-flight games to May 15 so that league leaders Ajax would have enough rest between games.

“I know the Premier League (PL) and FA (English Football Association) helped us prepare for the semi-final, but it’s true.

“The Premier League is completely different to the Dutch league,” Pochettino told reporters on Friday. “Football in Europe is completely different from England.

“The reality is 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, playing for big things, the concentration and effort are massive. You can have some problems.

“But it’s not a complaint. The fact is I think it’s not fair. If it was the opposite where we had one week to prepare for the semi-final and Ajax play Saturday, I would think the same, that it’s not fair for them.”

Tottenham will look to preserve their 100 per cent record at their new stadium when West Ham visits on Saturday in the league.

Pochettino said their focus was now on bouncing back from their 1-0 loss at Manchester City last weekend.

The result nearly cost them third place before their top four rivals failed to take advantage.

Tottenham is currently three points ahead of Chelsea and four ahead of Arsenal in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification spots.

“For us, after Manchester City, we are thinking about trying to beat West Ham,” Pochettino said. “When you compete three days beforehand in a game you must win if you want to be in the top four, and you are fighting for big things.

“And then it’s an emotional game because it’s against West Ham. The effort (required) is massive. That’s why we are excited and so motivated. It’s a massive challenge for us.”

Tottenham will be 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.